President Donald Trump says Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Chanahan, a former Boeing executive, will be in charge of the Pentagon on January 1 following the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Matisse.
Trump announced the transformation of Shanahan to the position of Acting Defense Minister today on Twitter, because of course he did:
I am pleased to announce that the talented Deputy Defense Minister, Patrick Chanahan, will serve as Acting Secretary of Defense as of January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments as Vice-President of Boeing. It would be great!
– Donald J. Trump (realDonaldTrump) 23 December 2018
As deputy of Mates, Shanahan focused on aerospace issues, in part because of his years of experience as a Boeing manager in projects ranging from commercial aircraft (737 to 787) to US military aircraft (V-22 Osprey). Chinook and Apache helicopters) and missile defense systems.
Shanahan was the right person to follow the president's insistence on creating a space force to upgrade military space operations. Last week, the word came out that the pilot scenario calls for the attribution of space power to the Air Force management department, just as the Marines plan is compatible with the Ministry of the Navy.
Chanahan's status as a confirmed deputy in the Senate made him the natural choice to succeed Matisse as interim leader of the Pentagon, but official delivery comes sooner than expected. In his letter of resignation, Matisse said he would stay until February to ensure orderly transition.
With Trump's announcement, Chanahan will have to speedily speed up the issues that led to Matisse's departure, such as the president's sudden announcement that 2,000 US troops would soon be withdrawn from Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria. Defense analysts fear that a hasty withdrawal will leave the Syrian Kurds, who were among the most steadfast US allies in the region, vulnerable to bloody attacks from hostile Syrian government forces as well as from Turkey (also a US ally in the Middle East). "Great Game").
Shanahan will also have to find a way to follow Trump's order to withdraw US troops in Afghanistan, another sensitive point for NATO.
It is too early to know who Trump will nominate as a permanent replacement for Matt. Chanahan could have had the domestic track, but there are already questions about his lack of experience in international affairs and his close relationship with Boeing, one of the country's largest defense contractors.
The rise of Shanahan is the latest manifestation of Boeing's growing influence in Trump's DOD. In the past six months, Boeing has won three multi-billion dollar contests for its flagship DOD programs, despite the significant delay in delivering a new tanker fleet to the USAF. https://t.co/Gs3Bfhplpz
– Lara Seligman (laraseligman) 23 December 2018
Matisse likes to describe Shanahan as "an engineer who loves people." He spent his career at Boeing and was brought in to oversee the update. He has been in the government for 18 months. No previous experience in international affairs. May be a good man, but this is ridiculous. https://t.co/JBYonMnswt
– Daniel Benjamin (@ Benjamin05055) 23 December 2018
Chanahan, 56, was born in Aberdeen, Washington. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and worked at Boeing from 1986 until his nomination to the Pentagon last year. He served as a board member of UW's Regents from 2012 to 2017.
Matisse, a 68-year-old former Marine general, was born in Pullman, Washington, grew up in Richland and graduated from the University of Washington Central in Ellensburg. One of his most important historical signs is reflected in what he will do if he encounters a situation in which he can not find the moral compass.
"If I think this is immoral, I will go back to fishing on the Columbia River tomorrow," Matisse was quoted as saying.