President Trump on Thursday said he will nominate Patrick Shanahan to be his second secretary of defense. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since Jan. 1, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive Cabinet position, the AP reports. "Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. Moments later, Shanahan issued a statement saying he is honored by the announcement and, if confirmed, "I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy. I remain committed to modernizing the force so our remarkable Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have everything they need to keep our military lethal and our country safe."
Shanahan wields none of the star power of Trump's first defense secretary, Jim Mattis. And that may be just the thing for a commander in chief who seemed to resent Mattis for his reputation in Washington as a superior strategist and a moderating influence on an impulsive president. Shanahan, 56, has a lifetime of experience in the defense industry but little in government. In more than three months as the acting secretary, he has focused on implementing the national defense strategy that was developed during Mattis' tenure and emphasizes a shift from the resources and tactics required to fight small wars against extremist groups to what Shanahan calls "great power" competition with China and Russia. His nomination is not known to face any organized opposition in Congress, although some members have been lukewarm on him. This is only the third time in history that the Pentagon has been led by an acting chief.
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