President Trump intends to nominate acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to be his permanent pick to replace James Mattis at the Pentagon, according to a tweet from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
The White House says President Donald Trump will nominate Pat Shanahan as the next secretary of defense.
The former Boeing executive has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since January 1, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive Cabinet position.
Shanahan joined the administration in April 2017 after a 30-year career at Boeing. But for more than 18 months, he served as deputy defense secretary, overseeing budgets, weaponry and technology, in addition to spearheading the drive for Trump's Space Force.
On Twitter, Shanahan thanked the president for having confidence in him: "If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy".
Shanahan has been serving in an acting capacity since the start of the year, making him the longest acting defence secretary ever.
If confirmed, Shanahan will also be only the second secretary since the Department of Defense was created in 1947 who never served in the USA military (the first was Dick Cheney, who served from 1993-97).
A politically flexible management professional originally brought to the Pentagon to modernize its trillion-dollar acquisition program, Shanahan said he was happy to accept the nomination. "I called my mom..."
If confirmed, he would not be the first to lead the department without having served in the military.
Now, as always, his nomination will head to the senate for confirmation.
On his first day as acting Pentagon chief in January, Shanahan told civilian leaders of the US military to focus on "China, China, China".
Shanahan released a statement following the White House's announcement, saying he is "honored" by Trump's decision.
Presidents typically take pains to ensure the Pentagon is being run by a Senate-confirmed official, given the grave responsibilities that include sending young Americans into battle, ensuring the military is ready for extreme emergencies like nuclear war and managing overseas alliances that are central to USA security. Trump also has publicly lauded Boeing, builder of numerous military's most prominent aircraft, including the Apache and Chinook helicopters, the C-17 cargo plane and the B-52 bomber, as well as the iconic presidential aircraft, Air Force One.
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