Pentagon officials are sounding the alarm as a sweeping overhaul that began Monday continues for no apparent reason other than political disagreements with the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
In addition to Monday's firing of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Mark Tomb, the deputy chief of staff to the undersecretary of defense for policy, was ousted from his position Tuesday, according to The Intercept.
Tomb, who declined to comment when reached by phone, was forced into retirement as part of a wave of firings of top Defense Department officials that included James Anderson, the Pentagon’s acting policy chief; Joseph Kernan, the undersecretary for intelligence; and Esper’s former chief of staff Jennifer Stewart.
One Trump administration official confirmed to The Intercept that the shake-up at the Pentagon has been planned for months, with additional firings to come across the department. The official said that Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, would likely be dismissed next.
“The president is taking back control of DOD. It’s a rebirth of foreign policy. This is Trump foreign policy,” said the official, who spoke anonymously and without authorization.
The personnel changes, the official claimed, would help clear the way for a more loyal Pentagon apparatus to carry out Trump’s goals, including the last-minute withdrawal of troops from foreign conflicts. Trump has promised a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Christmas, a pledge that has reportedly rankled senior figures in the military, including several of the Pentagon leaders dismissed this week, according to The Intercept.
“Firing a Secretary of Defense in the last weeks of a lame duck Presidency serves no purpose and only demonstrates an instability harmful to American national defense,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in a statement.