New Pentagon chief says military ‘remains strong’ following leadership purge

Newly appointed acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said Friday that the military “remains strong” following President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden has spoken with some GOP senators, chief of staff says Trump told advisers he could announce 2024 bid shortly after certification of Biden win: report Ivy League cancels winter sports amid US COVID-19 pandemic surge MORE‘s abrupt ouster of his predecessor and the resignations of several top Defense officials.

“I want to assure the American public and our allies and partners that the Department of Defense remains strong and continues its vital work of protecting our homeland, our people and our interests around the world,” Miller said at the Pentagon ahead of a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart.

Miller on Monday took over as Pentagon chief after Trump fired previous Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperDirector of DHS cyber agency expecting ouster Senior DHS cybersecurity official to step down at end of week Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties MORE via tweet, two days after President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden has spoken with some GOP senators, chief of staff says Trump told advisers he could announce 2024 bid shortly after certification of Biden win: report Obama ‘troubled’ by GOP attempts to cast doubt on election results: ‘That’s a dangerous path’ MORE was declared the winner of the presidential election.

Esper’s departure was quickly followed by that of the Pentagon’s top policy official James Anderson, top intelligence official Joseph Kernan and Esper’s chief of staff Jen Stewart, who all submitted letters of resignation on Tuesday.

Deputy chief of staff Alexis Ross resigned on Friday.  

The shake-up was quickly called out by lawmakers as a detriment to national security in the midst of a tense transition of power. Trump’s critics also worry that the Pentagon’s new leadership may try to push through controversial executive orders in the president’s remaining two months in office.

“Whatever the reason, casting aside a Secretary of Defense during the volatile days of transition seems to neglect the President’s most important duty: to protect our national security,” tweeted Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinOvernight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing ‘chaos’ Democratic lawmakers lambast Trump over Esper firing as GOP remains mum Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday’s elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 MORE (D-Mich.), a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official.

But on Friday, Miller underscored calm at the Defense Department. He noted that he has already spoken to his counterparts in several ally countries, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and that he plans to speak to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later in the day.

Miller also said he has spoken with leaders in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden has spoken with some GOP senators, chief of staff says Obama ‘troubled’ by GOP attempts to cast doubt on election results: ‘That’s a dangerous path’ Biden campaign manager: McCarthy, GOP will feel pressure from constituents to accept president-elect MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHow Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda Overnight Health Care: Schumer, Pelosi want Heroes Act as ‘starting point’ in new COVID-19 relief talks | Labs warn of possible delays in test results amid surge in demand | Federal government partners with pharmacies for coronavirus vaccine distribution On The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year MORE (D-Calif.) and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

Miller, a White House counterterrorism specialist and former special forces officer, will likely be replaced quickly after Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.



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Source: The Hills

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