Top Defense Department official quits, fueling more uncertainty at the Pentagon

The Pentagon

The abrupt changes sent reverberations through the Pentagon as nervous civilian and military staff waited for the next shoe to drop. And they fuelled worries of a wider effort to drum out anyone considered not loyal enough to Trump.

The turmoil came as the Trump administration blocked the incoming administration from the expected transition of government, as Trump refuses to concede after losing the election to former vice president Joe Biden. Two of them worked for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the administration and a third has also been linked to Nunes' efforts to politicize intelligence to further Trump's false claims about the "Deep State".

Who is out and who is in?

Ex-General Anthony Tata succeeds James Anderson as the new Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the Ministry, who held the office temporarily and resigned on Tuesday.

Tata, a retired Army brigadier general, He was nominated for the job over the summer, but that ended over his Islamophobic tweets as well as some of his more weird statements, including calling former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader".

Undersecretary for intelligence Joseph Kernan and Esper staffer Jen Stewart have also left their posts.

"Smith added that "if this is the beginning of a trend â€" the President either firing or forcing out national security professionals in order to replace them with people perceived as more loyal to him â€" then the next 70 days will be precarious at best and downright unsafe at worst".

A defence official confirmed that Tata, who had been performing the duties as the No 2 for policy, is now running the organisation following the Tuesday resignation of acting policy chief James Anderson, first reported by POLITICO.

Both Patel and Cohen-Watnick have close ties to Republican Representative Devin Nunes, who helped lead opposition to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russia's role in the 2016 election as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Patel was a staffer for Republican congressman Devin Nunes, who was involved in the campaign to discredit the Russian Federation probe into 2016 election interference.

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Patel was linked in media accounts to efforts to discredit the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Mr Cohen-Watnick was a protege of Mr Trump's initial national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, whom Trump once considered for the posts of USA ambassador to Germany and White House national security adviser.

There has been continuing tumult in the Pentagon's policy shop.

In June, Esper addressed social justice protesters and said he would be open to discussing changing the names of 10 military forts that were named after Confederate Generals from the Civil War.

Much of the day-to-day activities are conducted by career policy experts and military leaders in the USA and around the globe who adhere to a strict chain of command.

But days before his sacking, the former defence secretary warned that if he were to be replaced, it would be by a Trump loyalist.

All of those military leaders remain in place. "This is Trump foreign policy", the official said.

Earlier this year, Mr Trump appointed Mr Tata to the post, but the Senate cancelled a hearing on the nomination when it became clear it would be hard to have him confirmed. In the tweets, Tata called Obama a "terrorist leader" and a "Manchurian candidate" and called Islam "the most oppressive violent religion I know".

"It is hard to overstate just how risky high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition", said Representative Adam Smith, the Democrat who leads the House Armed Services Committee.

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