MOSCOW - US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced the resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis , who has decided to step down over division in opinions with the US leader.

Mattis’ resignation will be effective from February 28, 2019. The resignation came shortly after Trump’s decision to pull out all US troops from Syria, the plans which the outgoing defense chief has previously slammed as a “strategic blunder.”

James (Jim) Norman Mattis was born on September 8, 1950, in the city of Pullman, in Washington state. In 1971, he graduated from Central Washington University with the rank of a second lieutenant.

Mattis obtained his master’s degree in international security affairs from the US National War College in 1994.

For more than 40 years, James Mattis held command positions in the US Marine Corps. In 1991, he headed an infantry battalion in Iraq, and in 2001, at the rank of brigadier general, he commanded the task force during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan.

In 2003, as a major general, he helmed the 1st Marine Division during the war in Iraq.

From 2005 to 2006, while a lieutenant general, Mattis served as the commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development at Quantico in the US state of Virginia.

From 2006 to 2007, he headed the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and was the commander of US Marine Forces Central Command in the Middle East.

Mattis as a general held a position of the commander of the US Joint Forces Command and simultaneously as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation from 2007 to 2010.

In 2010, he headed the Central Command of the US Armed Forces.

In 2013, Mattis left military service, and worked on the advisory board in the Spirit of America non-profit organization. He was also a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

On December 1, 2016, US President-elect Donald Trump announced his plans to appoint James Mattis as the 26th US defense secretary.

On January 20, 2017, Mattis was confirmed and sworn in as the defense secretary.

In his resignation letter, Mattis recommended Trump to select a replacement whose views are more aligned with the president. The outgoing defense chief underlined that the United States cannot protect its interests without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to allies.