Trump's pick for defence secretary withdraws from nomination process

Saul Bowman
June 19, 2019

He led a Pentagon team that worked out the Trump administration's plan for creating a Space Force as the sixth branch of the USA military.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is not moving forward with the confirmation process to take the job permanently, President Trump announced on Tuesday.

Shanahan's decision was explained by his desire to "devote more time to his family", according to Trump.

Shanahan's time as acting head of the Pentagon had also been clouded by questions over whether he had the experience to lead the Defense Department, how his friendly relationship with his long-time former employer Boeing might affect his tenure, and whether he was overly deferential to National Security Adviser John Bolton and his staff.

After months of unexplained delays, US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down yesterday before his formal nomination ever went to the Senate, citing a "painful" family situation that would hurt his children and reopen "wounds we have worked years to heal".

Esper has served as Army secretary since 2017.

Pentagon officials could not be immediately reached for comment about the domestic violence reports.

In 2011, the couple's son, William Shanahan, brutally beat his mother with a baseball bat, leaving her unconscious and fracturing her skull, records show.

"Before his divorce, Pat Shanahan's ex-wife was arrested and charged for domestic violence".

"The confirmation process should focus on securing our nation against threats, readiness and the future of our military, and ensuring the highest quality care and support for service members and their families", Mr. Shanahan said in a statement. If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy.

Trump said he will name Secretary of the Army Mark Esper as the new acting defense secretary, a day after Shanahan announced the Defense Department would send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran.

Mr Shanahan on Monday announced the deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East to counter "hostile behaviour" by Iranian forces. Shanahan denied the allegation from his ex-wife in a statement Tuesday morning.

Just as they'd done with Mr. Shanahan, critics quickly took aim at Mr. Esper over his ties to the defense industry.

He is a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and spent 21 years in the Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring from the Army Reserves in 2007. In more than four months as the acting secretary, he focused on implementing the national defence strategy that was developed during Mattis' tenure and emphasizes a shift from the resources and tactics required to fight small wars against extremist groups to what Shanahan calls "great power" competition with China and Russian Federation.

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