WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is not lonely in the Pentagon, but two months into his tenure not a single political appointee has joined him.
The retired Marine general has sparred with the White House over choices for high-priority civilian positions that, while rarely visible to the public, are key to developing and implementing defense policy at home and abroad.
When the Obama administration closed shop in January, only one of its top-tier Pentagon political appointees stayed. The deputy defense secretary, Robert Work, agreed to remain until his successor was in place. No nominee for deputy has been announced, let alone confirmed by the Senate.
So far the administration has announced four nominees for senior Pentagon civilian jobs, and two of those later withdrew.