Trump gives new Pentagon chief a taste of his world view

It said Republican senators Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham and former Republican Senator Jim Talent had also been mentioned as possible replacements for Mattis. 'As you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I, ' Trump said before the start of a Cabinet meeting with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at his side.

"Not too good", Trump said at a Cabinet meeting.

Mattis stepped down as defense secretary last month over differences with Trump on a host of national security issues, particularly Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

In his stinging resignation letter, Mattis made little attempt to hide his disagreements with Trump.

Shanahan, 56, meanwhile, said his priorities would include the impending US troop withdrawal from Syria and countering China's military might.

"While we're focused on ongoing operations, acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember China, China, China", the official said.

"He is one of the absolutely very best we have had as the chief financial officer and under comptroller, and the budget will be paramount in the next six weeks", Punaro said, adding that Norquist is "highly respected on the Hill and in the building".

Patrick Shanahan, the acting USA defence secretary, singled out China as a key priority in a "great power competition" on his first full day in his new role at the Pentagon on Wednesday, continuing a course set by his predecessor. His views on aggression toward China and pulling American troops from the Middle East align with President Donald Trump's.

According to U.S. officials, Trump is also considering a 50 per cent drawdown in Afghanistan - another move that has left some lawmakers and global allies fearing what might come next.

Shanahan, 56, did not serve in the military and before but serving as deputy defense secretary he spent more than 30 years at Boeing.

The Trump administration has had a troubled relationship with China.

Shanahan also announced that Pentagon comptroller David Norquist would perform the duties of deputy secretary of defence.

Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino, Shanahan's spokesman, said he had recused himself from any matters involving Boeing.

Shanahan, a native of Washington state, holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and two advanced degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Rogelio Becker