The Pentagon on Monday named eight new members to its Defense Policy Board, including former House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE, weeks after a purge of the independent advisory group.
The intended appointments to the board, which advises Pentagon leaders on policy issues, come after last month’s sudden removal of nearly a dozen longstanding experts on the panel, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright and former House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Virginia emerging as ground zero in battle for House majority McAuliffe's loss exposes deepening Democratic rift MORE (R).
The administration made similar replacements on the Defense Business Board in early December.
Among the most controversial names added to the board are Gingrich, a loyalist to President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE, as well as Scott O’Grady, Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs. Originally known for his career as a fighter pilot, O’Grady has recently sparred with critics on Twitter where he has also retweeted debunked conspiracies that called Trump’s election loss to Joe BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE a “coup” attempt, according to CNN.
The other appointees are former U.S. ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization Thomas Carter, Edward Luttwak, Thomas Stewart, former Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesDaschle Group hires first GOP lobbyist Overnight Defense: US sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system | Veterans groups, top Democrats call for Wilkie's resignation | Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon board Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory panel MORE (R-Va.), former Sen. Robert Smith (R-N.H.), and former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Charles Glazer.
The Pentagon last week also announced the intended appointments of Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute, to serve as the board’s chair, and former National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty as a member.
“These incoming members bring extensive defense and national security affairs experience to this advisory committee from their time in Congress, the State Department, our armed forces and beyond,” acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said in a statement. “I’m confident the Department of Defense will benefit greatly from their time and service to the board.”
The appointments mark Trump's latest effort to attempt to install loyalists at the Pentagon only weeks before the end of his presidency.
In early December, Trump moved to place top allies Corey LewandowskiCorey LewandowskiPence fuels speculation of 2024 presidential bid Judge blocks Spicer, Vought bid to return to Naval Academy board New Trump super PAC formed after accusations of misconduct MORE and David Bossie among nine new members of the Defense Business Board, which provides Pentagon leaders with outside advice on business management issues.
That follows the November ousting of Pentagon chief Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE shortly after Trump lost the election to Biden. In the days that followed, three other top officials departed and were replaced with Trump loyalists.
The Biden administration can still replace Trump’s picks come Jan. 20, so it is not clear if the newly named individuals will become members of the Defense Policy Board.