Trump's acting secretary of defense will step into role with no foreign policy, military experience

With Defense Secretary James Mattis on his way out two months earlier than planned, Deputy Defense Secretary...

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 4:54 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 4:54 PM

With Defense Secretary James Mattis on his way out two months earlier than planned, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will take the reins of the government's largest and most complex agency with no military and foreign policy experience.

Shanahan will lead the Pentagon on an interim basis until President Donald Trump names a nominee to be his new defense secretary. Shanahan will be charged with carrying out the President's orders of withdrawing US troops from Syria, and possibly Afghanistan. A defense official confirmed to CNN Monday that Shanahan has canceled his holiday travel and is heading back to Washington.

Boeing Co

Companies

Defense departments

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

International relations

International relations and national security

James Mattis

John McCain

Military

National security

Political Figures - US

US Department of Defense

US federal departments and agencies

Defense and military policy

Donald Trump

Foreign policy

A former corporate executive, Shanahan's portfolio at the Department of Defense has been narrow with no experience in international affairs or with counterterrorism.

Past Pentagon chiefs have served in the role without prior military service, with Ashton Carter -- President Barack Obama's last secretary of defense -- as the most recent example.

RELATED: Trump to oust Mattis two months early, announces new acting secretary of defense

For the 17 months, Shanahan was Mattis' No. 2 in the Pentagon. Shanahan almost exclusively handled internal reform, budget issues and the Space Force, the new military branch proposed by Trump.

A senior administration official told reporters on Sunday that Shanahan had been essentially "running the building" while Mattis focused on policy and outreach to military and allies.

"There is probably nobody who knows the inner workings of the Pentagon more than Pat," the official said.

Shanahan was confirmed last year by the Senate in a 92-7 vote, but his confirmation process was not without hiccups.

The late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain took issue with Shanahan's answer on a foreign policy question and threatened to block his nomination.

McCain said during the June 2017 hearing that he was disturbed by Shanahan's written answer in a questionnaire submitted to the committee about providing weapons to Ukraine.

In his written answer, Shanahan had said it was an issue he'd "plan to look at closely if I am confirmed" because he did not have access to classified information.

"It's not satisfactory. Mr. Shanahan," the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee said at the hearing, adding later, "Your response to that question was, frankly, very disappointing to me."

Shanahan would go on to say that he supported equipping Ukraine with defensive weaponry, but McCain warned him: "Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee."

McCain also raised concerns over Shanahan's background as a former Boeing executive.

"I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse," McCain said, worrying about someone employed at one of the "big five" defense contractors taking on a leadership role at the Pentagon.

Shanahan first joined Boeing in 1986 and worked for the major defense contractor for more than three decades before joining the Defense Department.

More recently, he was Boeing's senior vice president of supply chain and operations and his experience laid largely on the commercial side of the company. Dubbed "Mr. Fix-It" within the company, Shanahan was credited with turning around some of Boeing's trouble-prone programs, including the 787 Dreamliner.

Shanahan has recused himself from all Boeing issues and in his ethics agreement said he planned to divest from his Boeing-related financial interests.

He also was the vice president and general manager of two of the company's defense divisions, Boeing Missile Defense Systems and Rotorcraft Systems.

A Washington state native, Shanahan received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington. He also holds two higher degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shanahan has three children and his late father was an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

During his hearing, Shanahan credited his father with instilling in him "service before self."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34211

Reported Deaths: 2125
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9761576
Lake3573186
Allen160069
Cass15877
St. Joseph126634
Elkhart126228
Hendricks116671
Hamilton115493
Johnson1097108
Madison58659
Porter53428
Bartholomew50834
Clark49741
LaPorte43023
Howard40428
Tippecanoe3933
Delaware38536
Jackson3821
Shelby37122
Hancock33127
Floyd31839
Boone31635
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2662
Montgomery23817
White2338
Noble22821
Clinton2271
Decatur22431
Grant21022
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry17211
Greene16924
Vigo1688
Dearborn16821
Monroe16712
Warrick16628
Lawrence15924
Miami1401
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Kosciusko1271
Orange12622
Scott1193
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Marshall1021
Carroll932
Daviess8516
Steuben832
Wayne785
Fayette777
Newton7710
Wabash772
LaGrange762
Jasper661
Washington521
Clay511
Jay500
Fulton491
Randolph473
Rush462
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley413
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan351
Owen341
Brown331
Perry320
Wells310
Benton300
Knox280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke170
Adams171
Posey160
Gibson152
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167
West Lafayette
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 60°
Kokomo
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 56°
Rensselaer
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 57°
Fowler
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Williamsport
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 61°
Crawfordsville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 61°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 61°
Delphi
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 57°
Monticello
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 58°
Logansport
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Cooler, less humid weather continues Sunday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events