Defense

DOD: No contact from Trump transition team

Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has been preparing its transition materials and has an official waiting for the Trump transition team to call, but so far the phone hasn't rung, a Defense Department spokesman said.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, DOD's director of press operations, told reporters that Secretary Ash Carter's chief of staff, Eric Rosenbach, has been designated as the transition lead for DOD and that Rosenbach did not join Carter on his current travels so he could be available to meet with Trump team members.

"We're waiting for that contact to be made," Davis said. "We stand ready to assist the president-elect's transition team with a smooth and orderly transition in the interest of our national security and for our country…and we're ready to go."

Juliette Kayyem, who served on President Barack Obama's transition team and was an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, has been commenting on social media that by this point in the 2008 transition, the Obama team had already met with the George W. Bush administration's DHS team three times.

DHS did not respond to questions from FCW about whether the Trump transition team is in contact with the agency.

Kayyem has expressed concerns that the Trump transition is unorganized and putting national security at risk. "Transitions aren't just to place people in high positions," she told FCW. "They are to ensure that should a crisis arise, the leadership is in place to manage a government that citizens are dependent on to protect their families and communities."

DOD officials have generally remained quiet about the transition and the implications for the department's initiatives, budgets, staffing and ongoing operations.

However, one senior DOD official told FCW that the transition presents the department with an opportunity that some did not expect. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would likely have continued many of the Obama administration's policies and funding levels, but with a new team coming in, DOD has a chance to make a fresh case for desired program, policy and funding changes.

President-elect Donald Trump said throughout the campaign that he wanted to boost military spending, increase the size of active-duty forces and add new ships and other weapons.

The official said DOD's "ducks are in a row" and it is ready to present its wish list to the new team. The list includes increased Army end-strength to address the range of ongoing global operations and increased funding to cover readiness, installations and modernization.

The Trump transition team has had a rocky start. Just three days after his victory, Trump replaced original transition director Chris Christie with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

On Nov. 15, former congressman Mike Rogers, one of the few establishment Republicans with national security credentials on the Trump team, announced that he had been removed as head of the national security portfolio. Rogers told CNN that Trump and Pence were clearing out those with ties to Christie.

Kayyem said she was alarmed by the news that Rogers had been ousted because he is highly intelligent and a voice of stability. She added that she had hoped he would become DHS secretary.

The Trump transition team has not responded to multiple requests for comment about its national security approach or plans to engage with DOD and DHS.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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