March 12, 2019

At Trump’s Pentagon, Empty Offices Are the New Normal

Featuring Loren DeJonge Schulman, and Jim Townsend

Source: Foreign Policy

Journalists Lara Seligman, Robbie Gramer

The resignation of two senior Pentagon officials last week brings the number of vacancies and posts filled on a temporary basis at the U.S. Department of Defense to a new high, a troubling state of affairs that some blame on the uncertainties surrounding former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s departure.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced her intent to step down on Friday, bringing to a close months of speculation over whether she would be nominated as President Donald Trump’s permanent secretary of defense or fired over what was seen as a campaign to slow roll the establishment of a separate Space Force.

Little noticed was the resignation the same day of another top female Pentagon official, Phyllis Bayer, the Navy civilian in charge of energy, environment, and installations—basing and housing.

The high number of empty posts at the Pentagon dates back to the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, when the White House struggled to find and recruit candidates for top jobs across U.S. agencies. However, Mattis’ departure and questions about Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s management style, along with the administration’s delay in nominating a permanent secretary, has exacerbated the problem, experts say.

Read the full article and more in Foreign Policy.

Authors

  • Loren DeJonge Schulman

    Deputy Director of Studies

    Loren DeJonge Schulman is the Deputy Director of Studies and the Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Her research interests include nation...

  • Jim Townsend

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European ...