It's a good thing we're not racing headlong into a war with Iran or some other equally daunting geopolitical catastrophe, because the task of actually filling the Pentagon's top job is starting to look like an increasingly messy task.

After Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration for permanent secretary, President Donald Trump tapped Army Secretary Mark Esper to take over as his second Acting Secretary of Defense in five months.

But unfortunately for both Trump and Esper, a federal law from 1998 puts a number of legal hurdles in their way.

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(U.S. Air Force/TSgt. Dana Flamer)

TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.

Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.

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President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."

Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.

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(DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)
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SINGAPORE — The Pentagon doesn't need to investigate a White House directive for the U.S. Navy to move the warship USS John S. McCain from view before President Donald Trump's recent trip to Japan, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Sunday.

The White House military office requested the Seventh Fleet to keep the warship "hidden from view," Shanahan told reporters en route to South Korea. But the directive wasn't carried out, and "all ships remained in normal configuration during the visit," he said.

"No, I am not planning any IG investigation," Shanahan said when asked if the inspector-general would investigate. No investigation was needed "because there was nothing really carried out," he said.

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Photo: Sgt. Amber I. Smith/U.S. Army

SEOUL (Reuters) - The Pentagon has told the White House that the U.S. military will not be politicized, a U.S. official said on Sunday, in response to a controversy after officials directed the United States Navy to keep the USS John S. McCain out of sight during a recent speech by President Donald Trump in Japan.

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