Top nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report

The Pentagon has removed one of its top political appointees as the Biden administration looks to solidify its nuclear weapons policies moving forward. 

Leonor Tomero, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear and missile defense, was asked by Pentagon officials to resign, a move first reported by Politico

Tomero had only been in her role for eight months and was responsible for overseeing the Biden administration's Nuclear Posture Review. The president is expected to release that review, which details its strategy surrounding nuclear weapons, in early 2022, the news outlet reported. 

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This strategy could involve cutting back on the country's use of nuclear weapons or modernizing the U.S. nuclear force against the wishes of progressive lawmakers.

Some advocates for nuclear disarmament suggested Tomero's departure was the result of her efforts to challenge current nuclear policies, The Washington Post reported

Nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis told the Post her departure signals a "no tolerance" policy at the Pentagon for new ideas. 

“People wonder why we don’t learn from failures like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason is simple: People who point out alternatives to current national security policies are systematically driven out of positions of authority,” Lewis, who is also a professor at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, told the Post.

An anonymous Pentagon official denied that Tomero's views contributed to her ousting.

“This was a reorganization decision to more appropriately align our organization with policy objectives,” the official said to the Post. “This was not a difference in opinion or policy.”

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At a press briefing Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security — Preparing for the Biden-Putin call Five things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine  Pentagon chief holds high-level meeting on situation in Ukraine, Russia MORE said he would not discuss personnel issues, but insisted their focus was on "protecting our security interests."

"It's natural with any new administration — this one's not excepted — that we would want to reevaluate the organizational structure and make changes where we think is appropriate to support the secretary's priorities," he said. 

President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE has been a longtime proponent of scaling back U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons. Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Biden, bruised by Afghanistan, faces a critical test in Ukraine Is the US capable of thinking strategically? Juan Williams: GOP infighting is a gift for Democrats MORE previously considered a "No First Use" policy, meaning the U.S. would only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack.

Though the Obama administration did not enact this policy, and the Trump administration rejected it in 2018, Biden has signaled his support for it, the Post said.

Biden said in a 2017 speech that it was "hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary or make sense.”

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for more information.