Trump administration announces sweeping leadership changes in Department of Defense


Following Trump’s announcement Monday that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been fired, the Trump administration carried out sweeping changes within the Defense Department, replacing several senior officials. 

The announcement of the changes came roughly 24 hours after the Trump administration replaced Defense Secretary Esper with Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The Trump administration moved to replace officials in the Pentagon only two days after Joe Biden, President Trump’s Democratic opponent, had been projected winner of the presidential nomination.The president has yet to concede the presidential race, and is currently filing lawsuits alleging voter fraud and irregularities in virtually every swing state. 

Anthony Tata, a retired Brig. General, moved into the Pentagon’s top policy role, replacing James Anderson who resigned Tuesday after ten months in the position. It is unknown whether Anderson had been asked to resign, or if he had resigned on his own volition. Tata has retained support from the White House despite his bipartisan opposition to his since withdrawn nomination to be undersecretary of defense in the summer of 2020. 

Other senior officials who resigned or were fired Tuesday include retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Jen Stewart, Chief of Staff. Kernan is to be replaced by Ezra Cohen-Watnick, according to the Pentagon.  Stewart will be replaced by Kash Patel, according to an administration official and a US defense official. Patel has a “very close” working relationship with Miller, said the administration official.

The White House is now focused on targeting Esper’s undersecretaries at the Defense Department, according to CNN’s unnamed “knowledgeable sources.” CNN’s sources went on to report that the effort made by the White House may be due to Esper and his team’s pushback on premature withdrawal from Afghanistan. Another initiative that the Pentagon opposes is using active-duty forces under the Insurrection Act against future protests, which President Trump may call for again under the new leadership. Not only has the Trump Administration taken action against officials in the Pentagon, but it has also removed Michael Kuperberg, the official in charge of the federal program that produces reports on climate change (Washington Post). 



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