Washington D.C – Donald Trump elevated domestic turmoil with his reshuffling of U.S. military leadership this week. This is right after a divided and contentious election. On Monday, Trump designated the National Counter Terrorism Center Director, Chris Miller, as the Acting Secretary of Defense. Miller took over from the former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Trump’s appointments can severely impact national security.
Today, Trump’s slash-and-burn at the Department of Defense continues. Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Joseph Kernan, and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, Jen Stewart, all submitted letters of resignation.
The flow chart of changes can be confusing, replicating the ongoing chaos of the Trump administration. Miller delegated the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to Brigadier General Anthony Tata. He is now the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
Trump picked Tata for the role of undersecretary back in June. Tata’s nomination was made amid controversy over his derogatory remarks about Islam. Tata called the religion “a most oppressive and violent religion.” In a former tweet, he also called former President Obama “a terrorist leader and a Manchurian Candidate.”
Further, Kernan is replaced by Ezra Cohen Watnick, a Trump aide who worked with former National Security Adviser (NSA) Michael Flynn. Watnick was forced out of the NSA in 2017. He’s also a close friend of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kernan eventually returned to the Department of Justice. Watnick later played an important role in Trump’s impeachment saga.
Impact on National Security
What is not clear, is why there’s so much changeover at the Pentagon? It’s only been one week since the presidential election. As of this writing, Trump still has not conceded to the results.
Democratic Representative Adam Smith says “It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of the presidential transition,”
This move can seriously hamper the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) by jeopardizing America’s national security. The timing of this action is especially tense with Trump claiming voter fraud.
What is Donald Trump’s real motive by undercutting a key governmental agency during a presidential transition? How will this keep the country safe?
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