The sudden resignation and withdrawal of Patrick Shanahan from the Department of Defense is sending shockwaves through the military community. The act raised questions about how effective the background check process really is, and who the president will choose to replace Shanahan as nominee for Secretary of Defense. Leo Shane III, deputy editor of Military Times, says that the uncertainty in the confirmation process is trickling down the DoD leadership.
“What we have heard from folks at the Pentagon and folks on the Hill is that that they can’t start to fill a lot of these positions until that Defense Secretary position is filled. You want to have that top person, you want to be able to set the agenda, but because this process is taking so long, we are just seeing all these other positions open up. Mostly through natural attrition, but also because the Trump administration likes to promote people from within…” Shane said. “It’s great to have that level of continuity, but it creates secondary effects of how many acting folks do you have and what authorities do they have? We have heard from folks on the hill saying they have spoken to foreign allies. They’re concerned that when they talk to Patrick Shanahan, when they talk to Mark Esper or any acting secretary, how long does that person’s word matter for?