As leaders scramble to respond to a global pandemic, the Pentagon is moving to fill vacancies in the upper echelons of the department.
The White House is close to selecting a nominee to be the Pentagon’s policy chief, following the ouster of John Rood in February as part of President Donald Trump’s loyalty purge.
Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and frequent Fox News commentator, and Anthony Tata, a retired Army brigadier general, former state bureaucrat and also a Fox News regular, are the leading candidates for the job of undersecretary of defense for policy, two administration officials tell POLITICO.
The Pentagon is moving to fill 17 vacancies in the upper echelons of the department, including Rood’s former job, as leaders scramble to respond to a global pandemic. Rood was forced out in late February once he was deemed insufficiently loyal to the president, administration officials said at the time.
Macgregor and Tata did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the National Security Council also did not respond to a query from POLITICO.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has expressed reservations about Macgregor, who is a lightning rod in military circles, according to one of the administration officials. The West Point graduate is revered by some fellow former officers and analysts as a renegade who made a career out of questioning orthodoxy in the Army and for his contention that the military leadership has never been held accountable for the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Macgregor also has an army of detractors who see him as an opportunist still bitter that his ideas were not adopted and that he was not promoted to the rank of general like some of his peers. And they also question whether he has a well-developed worldview for such an important policy writ.
Macgregor would be a controversial choice to head the Pentagon’s policy shop. He was one of the most vocal critics of the military strategy in Iraq and was particularly disdainful of then-Gen. David Petraeus, whom he saw as a media darling, prima donna and battlefield failure.
His supporters assert Macgregor’s opposition to overseas military engagements is the best evidence of his good judgment over the years, and why he is a perfect fit to work for Trump, who has made it a priority to wind down America’s open-ended military commitments in the Middle East.
“I've seen Doug under fire in direct combat and I’ve seen him be right, time after time, on the most consequential foreign policy issues of the past two decades,” said Daniel Davis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who famously publicly opposed an extended U. S. mission in Afghanistan.... (Read more)
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Trump addresses nation: As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property