Defense deputy chief of staff latest Pentagon official to resign
The deputy chief of staff for the secretary of Defense has resigned, a Department of Defense (DOD) official confirmed to The Hill Friday.
Deputy chief of staff Alexis Ross is the latest in a series of Pentagon officials stepping down this week after President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Ross’s resignation follows the departures of the Pentagon’s top policy official James Anderson, the agency’s top intelligence official Joseph Kernan and Esper’s chief of staff Jen Stewart. All three submitted letters announcing their resignations Tuesday, effective immediately.
CNN first reported Ross’s resignation Thursday evening.
The exits, which came after Trump fired Esper via Twitter Monday, have raised fears that the administration is looking to quickly fill the Pentagon with loyalists who can help push through controversial executive actions in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency.
Sources reportedly told CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday after Esper’s firing that the White House is apparently focused on pushing out Esper’s under secretaries after Esper and his team argued against the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor “will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. Macgregor’s decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities,” a Pentagon spokesperson told The Hill.
Macgregor, Trump’s failed pick for U.S. ambassador to Germany, has repeatedly in the past year advocated for the Trump administration to pull U.S. forces from conflicts in the Middle East.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Tuesday that it is “hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition.”
Anderson’s replacement, retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, has also raised concerns.
Tata this summer was forced to pull his name from consideration for the Pentagon’s top policy position when his past Islamophobic tweets resurfaced. In the tweets, Tata called former President Obama a “terrorist leader” and a “Manchurian candidate,” and called Islam the “most oppressive violent religion I know of.”
He was, however, placed as deputy undersecretary of policy in late July after his confirmation hearing was canceled.