Donald Trump has nominated acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan to take on that role permanently, putting the former Boeing executive in line to officially oversee a litany of pressing foreign policy concerns facing the United States.
Mr Shanahan would replace former defence secretary Jim Mattis in the role, who resigned last year citing differences with the president over America’s role abroad.
The former Boeing executive has been serving as acting secretary since that resignation, which followed shortly after Mr Trump announced his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria.
Mr Shanahan’s nomination comes after he was cleared by the defence department’s inspector general over concerns that he was partial to his former employer while serving under Mr Mattis.
He “has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the department of defence, and he will continue to do an excellent job”, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement announcing Mr Shanahan’s appointment.
Among the pressing issues facing the defence department Mr Shanahan is likely to officially take over are potential confrontations all across the globe, including in Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, where the United States has called for the ouster of a sitting president.
His tenure would also come as the US faces more familiar problems, including the winding down of long drawn out wars in the Middle East, which the president has expressed deep satisfaction with.
Mr Shanahan, before joining the defence department in 2017, had served his life in the private sector, and had no military background.
The nominee said in a statement that he was honoured by the announcement.
“If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our national defence strategy,” he said. “I remain committed to modernising the force so our remarkable soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have everything they need to keep our military lethal and our country safe.”
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