Patrick Shanahan has served in the role in an acting capacity since the departure of former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis
Donald Trump will nominate Patrick Shanahan, the acting Pentagon chief, as his new defense secretary, the White House announced on Thursday.
Shanahan, a former executive at Boeing, has been serving in the role in an acting capacity since the departure of the former defense secretary James Mattis in December.
Unlike Mattis, who disagreed with Trump on multiple issues and used his resignation letter to critique the president, Shanahan is known as a Trump loyalist.
Trumps nomination comes after Shanahan was cleared of an ethics investigation into allegations that he promoted his former employer, Boeing, in internal discussions while disparaging its competitors.
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, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement.
The decision puts an end to months of speculation about the former Boeing executives standing in the administration.
Shanahan has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since 1 January, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive cabinet position.
Shanahan spoke to reporters outside the Pentagon, saying he was very excited about the nomination and looking forward to a job he said requires him to spin a lot of plates.
The biggest challenge is balancing it all. For me its about practicing selectful neglect, so that we can stay focused on the future, Shanahan said.
The announcement comes close on the heels of an investigation by the defense departments inspector general over accusations that Shanahan had shown favoritism toward Boeing during his time as deputy defense secretary, while disparaging Boeing competitors. The probe appeared to stall his nomination, but the IG wrapped up the investigation rapidly and cleared Shanahan of any wrongdoing.
The IG interviewed Shanahan as well as 33 witnesses under oath, including Mattis and members of the joint chiefs of staff.
We did not substantiate any of the allegations. We determined that Mr Shanahan fully complied with his ethics agreements and his ethical obligations regarding Boeing and its competitors, the report said.
Shanahan, 56, has a lifetime of experience in the defense industry but little in government. In more than four 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.
The Shanahan nomination is not known to face any organized opposition in Congress, although some members have been lukewarm on him. The Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the chairman of the Senate armed services committee, has questioned why Trump was taking so long to seek the Senates consent but has indicated he would support Shanahan. Others have questioned whether Shanahan might be more willing to endorse plans or policies coming out of the White House.
This is only the third time in history that the Pentagon has been led by an acting chief.
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