Pentagon's top policy chief to step down

Pentagon policy chief Jim Miller will be leaving the Defense Department in January, marking the latest senior-level department official to depart the Pentagon since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took office earlier this year. 

Miller, who headed up the department's foreign policy shop before taking over for former policy chief Michele Flournoy, informed Hagel of his decision on Friday, according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. 

He will "remain on station until mid-January" after which Miller will end his five-year run as the department's top policy official, Little told reporters at the Pentagon. 

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In those five years, Miller led the Pentagon charge on several controversial defense issues, from U.S.-Russian negotiations on American missile defense efforts in eastern Europe to shepherding long-term, postwar security pacts with Iraq and possibly Afghanistan. 

The White House or department officials have yet to name Miller's possible successor at the Pentagon. 

But Miller's departure comes on the heels of a rapid thinning of the Pentagon's civilian leadership, most notably Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who announced his retirement last month. 

Carter handed in his resignation letter to Hagel in late October, agreeing to stay on until December "helping the Department of Defense manage through a very disruptive and difficult time, and ensuring a smooth transition," Hagel said in a statement at the time. 

Along with Carter, former head of special operations and low-intensity conflicts at the Pentagon Michael Sheehan, DOD's Deputy Chief Management Officer Beth McGrath and Little have all left or announced plans to leave the Pentagon. 

Little will end his tenure as the Pentagon's top spokesman next week. 

The seeming exodus of top Pentagon officials has not raised any alarms within Hagel's office, Little said. 

The Pentagon chief "is not deeply concerned" about the recent changes to the department's leadership, according to Little. 

"There is typically some turnover in [senior] personnel" within the Pentagon and elsewhere in the Obama administration, as the president heads into his final term, he said. 

The leadership churn going on inside the Pentagon "is not unique to this administration" or a reflection on Hagel's tenure as the head of DOD, Little said. 

"I wouldn't read anymore into it," he said of Miller's departure. "This is the way of Washington." 

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