The media believed it would take President Trump a long time to find someone to replace Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis after he resigned last week, but they were incorrect again. It took Trump just a matter of days to find a replacement and he is pushing out Mattis a month before he wanted to.
“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!” he wrote.
I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
President Trump said Sunday that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will become acting Pentagon chief on Jan. 1, greatly accelerating the exit of current Defense Secretary James Mattis who had promised to stay on the job until the end of February.
The president announced on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan will take the reins of the Defense Department at the beginning of 2019. It’s unclear whether Mr. Mattis decided to leave his post earlier than expected or whether he’s being forced out ahead of schedule by the White House.
A former Boeing executive, Mr. Shanahan has been deputy defense secretary since July 2017.
On Friday Defense News predicted he could be the new Defense Secretary and speculated on how he could reshape the department.
With the shock waves of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ announcement Thursday that he will be leaving the Pentagon, speculation is well underway as to who will replace him.
And should a new secretary of defense not be named and confirmed by the end of February — hardly a given, based on the Trump administration’s history of getting nominees through the Senate — a little known figure outside of national security and aviation circles could suddenly find himself elevated to the head of the Department of Defense.
Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who popped up as a surprise choice for deputy secretary of defense in early 2017, has spent the last year focused on reforming the internal processes of the Pentagon.
While flashier names will undoubtedly present themselves as options for the now-vacant role, it is possible that Shanahan could be tapped by President Donald Trump to the full secretary job. Two sources with knowledge of discussions said Shanahan’s name will likely be on any list of contenders, but could not say how serious a candidate the deputy might be.
A third source, this one close to Shanahan, said the deputy has “never aspired” to the top job, but wouldn’t rule the option out.
“He’s not a policy or geopolitics guy. He’s a business guy,” the source said. “But he’s spent the last year learning from the best. And Shanahan is known for having a good relationship” with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
If Shanahan ends up taking a job promotion, whether it be to secretary of another role — he has denied interest in taking over at OMB should Mick Mulvaney become the permanent chief of staff for Trump — it’s worth asking the question: just who is Patrick Shanahan?
In October, Defense News sat down with Shanahan and asked him to lay out his vision of the department’s future and how to get there.