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Mattis' First Note as SecDef Backs Intel Community

In his first public correspondence as defense secretary, James Mattis called Pentagon employees and intelligence officials "the sentinels and guardians of our nation."

The retired Marine general and former head of Central Command had a busy day.

After President Donald Trump signed legislation giving him a waiver to serve in the position, he was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 98 in favor, one opposed (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York), and one absent (Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican of Alabama); and sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Here's the text of the letter he dispatched to Pentagon employees:

"It's good to be back and I'm grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I'll do my best as your Secretary.

MATTIS SENDS"

The inclusion of the "intelligence community" wasn't lost on many defense observers.

While President Donald Trump has recently acknowledged that Russia waged cyberattacks on the U.S., he has said it didn't impact the presidential election and has previously expressed skepticism of not only U.S. intelligence assessments, but also Russia's involvement with leaking hacked emails to the website WikiLeaks.

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