After forcing Defense Secretary James Mattis out of office two months earlier than planned, President Donald Trump appointed Patrick Shanahan as the temporary head of the Defense Department. But, as CNN reports, Shanahan will take on the role as leader of the government’s biggest and most complex department without having any military or foreign policy experience.
Because of Mattis’ abrupt departure, Shanahan will take on the role as temporary leader of the Department of Defense, which is unusual for the massive agency. Typically, the outgoing head stays on until a new one is appointed and confirmed, which is what happened when Chuck Hagel left the Obama administration in 2014.
Shanahan is a former executive at Boeing who made his focus turning troubled investments around, earning him the nickname Mr. “Fix It.” The engineer has two degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including a Master’s in engineering and an MBA from the institute’s Sloan School of Management. What he is lacking, however, is any military experience.
Shanahan has been working under James Mattis as Deputy Secretary of Defense for the past year and a half. When he was nominated, many lawmakers, including John McCain, expressed concerns with Trump’s choice to appoint corporate executives to important positions within the Pentagon. Since that time, Shanahan has been condemned after Boeing secured multiple lucrative defense contracts worth $20 billion.
Shanahan has said that he believes the Pentagon should have a focus on performance rather than process and has worked on the business side of things, including budget issues, structural reform, and the Space Force.
“Too often we focus on process, or budget, or level of effort,” Shanahan said. “The Pentagon should focus on outcomes and outputs — our performance. This focus on performance should drive us to field unmatched lethality, execute on our modernization plans and achieve this affordably.”
Last week, James Mattis announced that he would be leaving the administration at the end of January and wrote a scathing letter of resignation criticizing Trump’s foreign policies, per a previous report from the Inquisitr. In particular, Mattis called out the president’s relationship with China and Russia and said that his and Trump’s visions for the country were not aligned. On Sunday, after the letter was released, Trump announced that Mattis would be leaving sooner than expected, appointing Shanahan as acting secretary until a permanent replacement could be found.
“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019,” Trump wrote. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!”
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