The country is in need of a new Defense Secretary. James Mattis had held the position for just under two years.
However, he resigned due to policy differences that could not be sorted out with President Donald Trump.
It seems as though Trump has his permanent pick lined up. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be the permanent pick following Trump’s nomination.
Who is Patrick Shanahan?
Patrick Shanahan was identified as the acting secretary of defense beginning January 1, 2019.
Prior to this, he received the appointment 33rd Deputy Secretary, which took place in July 2017.
Shanahan has experience in a variety of different areas. He joined Boeing in 1986 and spent over 30 years with the company, retiring as the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations.
Since becoming an important part of the Department of Defense, he has led a number of policies and strategies.
This includes the defense cyber strategy, national defense strategy, and more.
He believes in the importance of digital and technological advancements for the department and has spearheaded the modernization of cybersecurity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and control and communication.
In June 2018, he also established the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which was also responsible for publishing the AI strategy for the Department of Defense.
Additionally, Patrick Shanahan has launched National Mission Initiatives, including a focus on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and predictive maintenance.
Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, made an announcement that Trump has has his permanent pick lined up.
She tweeted the confirmation that President Trump will be nominating Patrick Shanahan.
With the nomination in place, the Senate will need to confirm the nomination so that Shanahan can take his position as the head of the Pentagon.
With Patrick Shanahan in place, he will continue to aggressively implement the National Defense Strategy.
In a statement, he identified that he will stay committed to modernizing the force to ensure that the military remains lethal and the country remains safe.
It made sense to move Patrick Shanahan into position since he was the deputy secretary already.
Originally, Mattis had planned to stay through February so that a successor could be both named and confirmed. However, Trump cut the transition period short because of the news coverage that was in place over the resignation.
This pushed Shanahan into the role early, though he has reportedly had no problem with the transition.
Will he get the title?
The Inspector General had to clear Patrick Shanahan of allegations from his former employer, Boeing, that he violated ethics agreements.
However, he was able to clear himself of these allegations. This does not mean that it is smooth sailing from here on out, however.
Several Democrats have identified that serving as secretary of defense is going to be a difficult task, and very different from his previous one.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is already showing some of the criticism that he will face throughout the confirmation process. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island is already in line with some of the criticism.
Meanwhile, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has said that he is pleased with the nomination.
He has gone on to say that the United States needs a confirmed leader and believes that Patrick Shanahan is up for the challenge.
Patrick Shanahan has already identified that one of his biggest challenges will be balancing everything that’s going on, including nuclear agreements with Iran and short-range missile launches from North Korea.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that Mattis was not someone who was willing to go along with everything that Trump wanted.
He was willing to push back, which is why the Democrats liked to have him in position. However, Shanahan is seen as someone who is less likely to push back against Trump.
Patrick Shanahan was not the only person pitched to Trump for the job, either. Former Air Force secretary Heather Wilson and Army secretary Mark Esper were some of the other names that were thrown into the ring.
However, those two were dismissive of Space Force, so it was unlikely that Trump was going to be supportive of either one.
Ultimately, the former Boeing executive is being nominated because he wasn’t a general.
Trump wants someone who can get the job done without fighting with him on the various policies, like Mattis.
As to whether Congress will approve the nomination, time will tell.
However, it looks positive that Patrick Shanahan will take the permanent position as he is the only one that has enough of a track record to show that he can handle the balance.