Defense

Lawmaker worried about DOD leadership shuffle

The Pentagon (Photo by Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock) 

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) worries U.S. defenses in space could be at risk due to the seeming implosion of top leadership at the Pentagon.

"The personnel problem isn't just bad with space, it's the entire Pentagon and the State Department. You know, for all our love of technology, we could have a greater human problem because you need Senate-confirmed people of ability, competence and vision," Cooper said during a panel discussion at the Defense One Tech Summit June 27 in Washington, D.C.

"You can't have a government of 'actings'... and that's sadly what we increasingly have."

Top leadership in the Pentagon has undergone major shake ups since December 2018 when then Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned from his post. His deputy and successor Patrick Shanahan stepped down from his acting secretary duties and withdrew from consideration for confirmation earlier in June. Army Secretary Mark Esper is now acting defense secretary, which puts duties performed for the top three Pentagon, and now top Army, positions, on an acting basis.

There has been similar jostling with space defense leadership. Space Development Agency Director Fred Kennedy and the head of the Strategic Capabilities Office, Chris Shank, resigned from their posts earlier this month. Both men have shifted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Cooper also said the U.S. has been "incredibly slow to react" to the militarization of space by adversaries and even defending national assets.

"We are coming to space defense slowly and reluctantly, and we're not pursuing space militarization except really as a defensive means," he said. "You can call us the Space Defense Force."

And impermanent leadership could lead to bad policy. "So many policies … in various areas of government are anti-business, anti-America, anti-competence," he said. "This should not last much longer."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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