Trump administration pushes out more leading defence advisors as the Pentagon purge continues

The Pentagon. Charles Dharapak/AP
  • The White House fired several members of the Defence Business Board, a panel of outside experts who advise senior Pentagon leaders, on Friday, Politico reported.
  • The move follows the firing of most of the Defence Policy Board last week.
  • The removal of these advisors also comes as the Trump administration purges senior Pentagon officials, to include the defence secretary, his chief of staff, the top policy and intelligence officials, and the official leading the Pentagon’s fight against ISIS.
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The White House pushed out more prominent defence advisors on Friday.

Some members of the Defence Business Board received a form letter from the White House liaison to the Pentagon, Joshua Whitehouse, on Friday informing them that their “membership on the Defence Business Board has expired or is coming to an end,” Politico reported.

“A number of board members have been terminated with a form letter,” Michael Bayer, formerly the board chairman, told the publication.

“In my experience,” Bayer said, “I was very surprised that the White House would, at the eleventh hour, adjust an advisory board that for 19 years has had a record of nonpartisan support with the department.”

The Defence Business Board consists of outside experts appointed to provide senior Department of Defence officials with independent advice on business issues.

The form letter the departing board members received reportedly said that the Department of Defence will be nominating new board members and thanked them for their service.

Following the Politico report, acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller announced that he was nominating nine new board members to fill the vacancies.

“I’m proud to welcome each of these new members to the Defence Business Board and I look forward to their contributions to help guide the Department’s business efforts in the coming years,” Miller said in a statement. “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.”

The shake-up follows another late last month by Whitehouse to remove 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 also purged a number of senior Pentagon officials.

Starting on November 9, President Donald Trump abruptly fired his 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: the chief of staff to the secretary of defence, Jen Stewart; the under secretary of defence for policy, James Anderson; and the under secretary of defence for intelligence and security, Joseph Kernan.

Those important positions within the Pentagon were filled by Trump loyalists, such as retired general and Fox News commentator Anthony Tata and former White House National Security Council officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Kash Patel.

This week, it was reported that Chris Maier, head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force, had been forced to resign after he was told by the White House liaison that the war against ISIS had been won and that his office was being disbanded.

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

President Donald Trump will hold office until January 20, but it remains unclear why his administration is making so many significant personnel moves in the final weeks of his presidency.

Updated: This post has been updated with the statement from acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller on the new board members.