Pentagon official overseeing special operations resigns after just 4 months on the job

news
Army Special Forces Train With NATO Allies

Mark Mitchell is stepping down as the acting assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, a position he has held since late June, a defense official confirmed on Tuesday.

No information was immediately available about why Mitchell decided to resign. His last day will be Nov. 1 and he will be replaced by Thomas Alexander, who is currently leading the Defense Department's counternarcotics efforts, the defense official told Task & Purpose.


CNN reporter Ryan Browne first tweeted on Tuesday that Mitchell had resigned and would be replaced by Alexander.

Mitchell assumed the role as the Pentagon's top special operations official after his predecessor Owen West resigned on June 22 to spend more time with his family. West was in the job for just over a year and six months.

An experienced Army special operator, Mitchell was one of the first service members who deployed to Afghanistan in 2001, where he received the first Distinguished Service Cross awarded during the post 9/11 wars for his heroism during the Battle of Qala-I Jangi in Mazar-e Sharif from Nov. 25-28, 2001.

"Major Mitchell ensured the freedom of one American and the posthumous repatriation of another," according to his award citation, which is posted on the Military Times Hall of Valor website. "His unparalleled courage under fire, decisive leadership and personal sacrifice were directly responsible for the success of the rescue operation and were further instrumental in ensuring the city of Mazar-e-Sharif did not fall back in the hands of the Taliban."

Mitchell went on to simultaneously command 5th Special Forces Group and a joint special operations task force in Iraq in 2010-2011, his official biography says. He later served on President Barack Obama's national security council, where he oversaw a review of hostage policy that led to significant changes.

In December 2018, Mitchell said in an interview for West Point's Combating Terrorism Center that both military and civilian leaders believed that deploying special operations forces was a catch-all solution to just about every problem.

"Not every hard problem has a good SOF solution," Mitchell told Brian Dodwell. "Special Operations, while they are an important part of achieving our national security objectives, can very rarely be the sole solution."

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."

Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.

He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.

The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.

The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.

Read More Show Less

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman made sure to take the time to correct a Congressman on Tuesday while testifying before Congress, requesting that he be addressed by his officer rank and not "Mr."

Read More Show Less