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VA Chief Robert Wilkie is reportedly lobbying to be the next Defense Secretary
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is reportedly pushing an "internal campaign" to be the next secretary of defense, the Washington Post reported.
- According to interviews with at least one White House official, and another person familiar with the matter, who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, Wilkie has thrown his hat in the ring to replace James Mattis as the military's top dog.
- Mattis resigned in December, following a disagreement with President Donald Trump over the decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
- In Mattis' absence, Patrick Shanahan has taken over as acting secretary of defense. A former Boeing executive, Shanahan is likely to face tough questions at an upcoming Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about whether or not he'll hew to Trump's foreign policy decisions, or push back.
- Wilkie for his part, has spent a lot of time in and around the U.S. military. The son of a war-wounded veteran, Wilkie previously remarked that he "was born in khaki diapers and I think my attitudes toward that and leadership flow from having been in that world my entire life." Additionally, he served as a Navy reservist from 1997 to 2008, and is currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, as Task & Purpose previously reported.
- Wilkie served as the undersecretary of defense for personnel readiness at the Pentagon, prior to coming to the VA last year, where he's responsible for leading more than 420,000 full-time employees — an all time high for the department, Curt Cashour, the VA press secretary told Task & Purpose.
- "Secretary Wilkie remains 100 percent focused on his job as VA secretary," Cashour told Task & Purpose via email. "He is proud to serve the veterans of this country and is honored to be a part of the record pace of reform at the department under President Trump's leadership. Secretary Wilkie continues to work tirelessly to help deliver high quality care and benefits to those who have sacrificed for our country."
- Should the rumors prove true, and Wilkie is seeking to leave the VA for greener pastures at the Pentagon, it could plunge the department back into uncertainty should he get the job.
- Continuity of leadership is key for an agency like the VA, which "is a giant, lumbering vessel that requires a lot of time and energy to right its course," Griffin Anderson, a spokesman for the Democrats on the House Veteran Affairs Committee, told Task & Purpose last March. "To say the least, it takes a lot of effort, from a lot of people, to get it moving in the direction you want it to go. And the only way you're going to be able to do that successfully is if you have people who know how to drive it."
- On the flip side, should Shanahan find himself nominated as secretary of defense, rather than Wilkie, or some other individual no one's heard of yet, it's likely he'd face some pointed questions on whether or not he has the chops, and background, to balance foreign policy concerns with a sprawling bureaucracy charged with handling America's longest war, maintaining the readiness of its various branches, equipping, arming, supporting, and supplying them, and in general, overseeing a massive defense apparatus.
SEE ALSO: He's A Service Member And Child Of A War-Wounded Vet. Can He Succeed As The Next VA Chief?
North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.
Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."