Top defence official overseeing fight against ISIS has reportedly been pushed out amid Trump’s Pentagon purge

A US Marine soldier on a joint security patrol in Syria, August 23, 2020. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Brendan Custer
  • A senior Pentagon official overseeing the fight against ISIS has been forced out, according to multiple reports.
  • Chris Maier, head of the Defeat ISIS Task Force, resigned Monday. The New York Times reports that he was told by a White House appointee that ISIS had been defeated and that his office was being disbanded.
  • Maier’s duties are being taken over by offices led by two Trump loyalists who moved into senior posts last month at the outset of an ongoing Pentagon leadership purge.
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A senior defence official overseeing the fight against ISIS has reportedly been pushed out as the Trump administration’s Pentagon purge continues.

Acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller accepted the resignation of Christopher Maier, the head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force, on Monday, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Both CNN and The New York Times, citing multiple officials, report that Maier was forced out of the post he has held since the task force was created in 2017.

The New York Times reported that Maier was told by a White House appointee that the US had already won the war against ISIS, a claim President Donald Trump has made repeatedly despite evidence to the contrary.

While the physical ISIS caliphate has fallen, the UN said in late August that over 10,000 ISIS fighters are believed to still be active in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement on Maier’s departure, the Pentagon said that the recent “changes recognise the success of the military fight to destroy the so-called physical caliphate of ISIS and reflect DoD’s commitment to institutionalise efforts to counter ISIS and integrate efforts with allies and partners within our counterterrorism and regional policy offices.”

The task force Maier led is being disbanded, and Maier’s duties are being absorbed by offices led by Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Anthony Tata, Trump loyalists who recently took over the Pentagon’s top intelligence and policy posts, following a leadership purge last month.

Read more:
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Maier’s exit follows that of former Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, former Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defence Jen Stewart, Under Secretary for Defence Policy James Anderson, and Under Secretary for Intelligence and Security Joseph Kernan, as well as a dozen outside advisors.

The Pentagon said in a statement that “the Department of Defence will continue to engage with our partners and allies to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and encourage the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters for prosecution.”

But while the fight against the terrorist organisation may be able to continue uninterrupted, The Times reports that Maier’s departure could negatively affect the transition.

Maier’s task force was reportedly in the process of getting the incoming Biden administration up to speed on counterterrorism policy and operations when it was disbanded. The move is expected to make it more of a challenge for the transition team to get the information it needs.

The transition process was already affected by the departure of Jen Stewart. She was replaced by another Trump loyalist, Kash Patel, who is now tasked with leading the Pentagon’s transition efforts despite having been on the job only a few weeks.