The Trump administration quietly pushed out nearly a dozen prominent defence advisors after its Pentagon leadership purge

Image
The Pentagon Associated Press
  • The Trump administration has shaken up the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Board, removing most of its 13 members, according to Foreign Policy.
  • A US defence official confirmed to Insider that some members had been removed, and acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller said in a statement that he looks forward “to naming new board members in the coming days.”
  • The changes to the Defence Policy Board, which saw the departure of advisors like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, come on the heels of a major shake-up of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership earlier this month.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In its final months, the Trump administration has reportedly ousted most of the high-profile advisors on the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Board.

“We can confirm that several members of the Department’s Defence Policy Board have been removed,” a US defence official told Insider Friday following an earlier report from Foreign Policy that revealed that at least 11 of the board’s 13 members were removed Wednesday by a directive sent by the Pentagon’s White House liaison Joshua Whitehouse.

The official said they were part of “long-considered changes” to the board of outside experts tasked with providing senior Pentagon officials with independent, informed advice.

The board members who were removed reportedly included former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. (Ret.) Gary Roughead, and former chief operating officer at the Pentagon Rudy De Leon.

Foreign Policy reported that the others ousted from the board include former Bush deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch II, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Jane Harman, former Bush Treasury undersecretary David McCormick, former Clinton deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, former nuclear negotiator Robert Joseph, and former top defence official Franklin Miller.

It is unclear what the status of the remaining two members is.

In a statement reported by CNN, acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller said that he is “grateful to the departing board members, many of whom have served for decades,” adding that “as we adapt the Department for great power competition, I look forward to naming new board members in the coming days.”

Miller has only been on the job at the Pentagon about two weeks, as he arrived as part as a major shake-up of the Department of Defence’s civilian leadership earlier this month.

Starting on Nov. 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, several high profile 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.

Anthony Tata, a retired general and former Fox News commentator who the Trump administration sidestepped Congress to place in the Pentagon, replaced Anderson, and Kash Patel and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, both former members of the National Security Council also considered loyal to the president, replaced Stewart and Kernan.

The administration’s moves to install Trump loyalists, some considered unqualified, in senior Pentagon positions caused some alarm, largely because the purpose was unclear given that Trump lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office in January.

Officials told Foreign Policy that the changes to the Defence Policy Board, which received pushback from people like Esper and Anderson, were aimed at clearing the way for individuals disconnected from the Washington establishment and loyal to the president.