Pentagon advisor resigns in protest, saying the Trump administration is putting the nation ‘at risk’ by purging posts to fill them with loyalists

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The Pentagon logo and an American flag in the Pentagon’s briefing room. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • One of the few members of the Defence Business Board to survive a recent purge has resigned from the Pentagon advisory group in protest, CNN first reported.
  • In his resignation letter, Steve Blank wrote that by purging advisory boards and filling them with allies of President Donald Trump, the Trump administration had “put the nation’s safety and security at risk.”
  • The purge of the Defence Business Board last week followed the removal of most of the Defence Policy Board late last month.
  • The Trump administration has also purged much of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership, clearing the way for loyalists to fill top posts.
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One of the few members of an important Pentagon advisory board who survived a recent purge has resigned in protest, and he sharply criticised President Donald Trump on his way out.

The White House on Friday pushed out nine members of the Defence Business Board, an independent panel of leading outside experts who provide advice to senior Pentagon leaders, and replaced some members with Trump allies, such as Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager, and David Bossie, a former campaign staffer.

Acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller said last Friday that he was “proud to welcome each of these new members to the Defence Business Board.”

He added that “these individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our Department, and our nation well.”

Steve Blank, one of the few remaining members, resigned on Monday, writing in his resignation letter that “the abrupt termination of more than half of the Defence Business Board and their replacement with political partisans has now put the nation’s safety and security at risk,” CNN first reported.

“My service to the Department of Defence was a service to the country not to a party,” he wrote. “I hereby tender my resignation.”

The Politico reporter Lara Seligman posted a copy of Blank’s resignation letter on Twitter.

The Defence Business Board shake-up followed the White House’s removal last month of 11 of the 13 members of the Defence Policy Board, a group of outside advisors who offer their perspectives on defence and national-security matters.

In addition to pushing out defence advisors, the Trump administration has purged several senior Pentagon officials.

On November 9, Trump abruptly fired Mark Esper as secretary of defence, replacing him with Miller, who was previously the director of the National Counterterrorism Centre.

The next day, three more Pentagon officials resigned: Jen Stewart, the chief of staff to the secretary of defence; James Anderson, the undersecretary of defence for policy; and Joseph Kernan, the undersecretary of defence for intelligence and security.

Those important positions within the Pentagon were filled by the Trump loyalists Anthony Tata, a retired general and occasional Fox News guest, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Kash Patel, former National Security Council officials.

Last week, reports said Chris Maier, the head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force, was forced to resign after a White House liaison told him that the war against ISIS had been won and that his office was being disbanded.

Tata and Cohen-Watnick, who occupy the top Pentagon policy and intelligence positions, took over Maier’s duties.