Mattis Out January 1, Trump Names Patrick Shanahan As Acting Defense Secretary

Mattis Out January 1, Trump Names Patrick Shanahan As Acting Defense Secretary

Mattis Out January 1, Trump Names Patrick Shanahan As Acting Defense Secretary

We wrote here about Secretary of Defense James Mattis resignation. Needless to say the reaction has been all over the map. As of this morning, Trump has announced that Mattis will be out on January 1 instead of February 28, and Patrick Shanahan will be acting Defense Secretary.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who has been Mattis’s deputy at the Pentagon, will assume the top job on an acting capacity beginning Jan. 1, Trump said. The president made the decision hastily in reaction to negative news coverage, according to senior administration officials, one of whom said Trump was eager to retaliate against Mattis and show up the widely respected former general.

Unlike Mattis, Shanahan has not served in the military and has little foreign policy or government experience. Trump plans to conduct a wide-ranging search for a permanent replacement and is interested in candidates from outside the administration, one official said.

First of all, I just love how it’s always anonymous senior administration officials that are spouting off to the press about what or how Trump is supposedly saying or doing. They’ll never go on record because either A. what they are saying isn’t true, B. they want to keep their job and the pipeline to the media going, or C. both.

That said, was this a wise move?

From what it looks like, Mattis won’t be testifying in front of Congress about the new national security strategy. In some ways, that’s probably a good thing given that Congresscritters would’ve jumped on the chance to quiz Mattis about his resignation and relationship with Trump instead of focusing on national security.

Meanwhile, will others be leaving?

The abrupt nature of Mattis’s departure raises questions about who else may leave the Pentagon in coming weeks, thrusting the department further into chaos.

Army Secretary Mark Esper, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer all have characterized their relationships with Mattis as close, and Wilson has said that she chose to serve in the administration specifically at the request of Mattis.

“He told me, ‘You’re my first choice, and there’s big gap between you and my second choice. And I’m not going to talk to anyone else until you tell me whether you will do this if asked,’ ” Wilson said in an interview last year. “It’s one of those moments where you know your draft number has come up, and you’re supposed to serve.”

Who is Patrick Shanahan?

Ok, so McCain didn’t like him. In certain ways, that’s kind of a bonus in my book. I do like the fact that Shanahan has grave concerns about China’s actions.

Here Shanahan discusses China and national security concerning our space based satellite communications.

“We think about China not just militarily,” he says.

“We use the term ‘great power competition.’ We see their growth in the military, their pursuit of predatory economics, their theft of intellectual property. We see all of those things as disruptive and threatening to the American way.”

China is also investing in cyber as well as weapons that can destroy satellites, a great concern for U.S. communications and war-fighting ability.

“Space was always a sanctuary,” Shanahan says. “It was a place where you didn’t have to protect your assets, it was a place that you could operate freely. That’s not the case anymore. And since so much of our commerce and way of life is affected by our use of [global positioning satellites], sharing of communications, sharing of data, that we need to make sure we’re protected and that we have resilience so we can continue day-to-day the operation of our businesses and defensive systems.”

Meanwhile, for all those who are freaking out that Shanahan is now defense secretary and whining about his lack of military service.

1. Reading comprehension is NOT your strong suit. Shanahan is only the ACTING Secretary of Defense. 2. There’s another Secretary of Defense who didn’t have military experience and did a damned fine job in the role. His name? Dick Cheney.

Is this a good move or not? It is too soon to tell. I think everyone needs to take a few steps back, take some deep breaths and chill. Let’s see what happens over the next while before ramping back up to eleventy on this shall we?

Feature Photo Credit: Claire Harbage/NPR, cropped and modified

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2 Comments
  • Oldav8r says:

    “…another Secretary of Defense who didn’t have military experience and did a damned fine job in the role. His name? Dick Cheney.”

    For balance let me offer Robert McNamara, who demonstrated that micromanagement by spreadsheet is not a war fighting strategy.

  • GWB says:

    Shanahan […] has little […] government experience
    They think a Boeing executive has little gov’t experience? Hah! He might very well know “government” better than most of the active practitioners! (They are a major defense contractor and have to worm their way through our bureaucracy every single day.)

    As to little experience: Nikki Haley had never served in the Foreign Service before becoming Ambassador to the UN.

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