Pentagon Purges Leading Advisors From Defense Policy Board

It’s unclear why the Trump administration waited until its final months to shake up the influential group of outside experts advising top Pentagon leaders.

NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Several members of the top federal advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Defense have been suddenly pushed out, multiple U.S. officials told Foreign Policy, in what appears to be the outgoing Trump administration’s parting shot at scions of the foreign-policy establishment.

The directive, which the Pentagon’s White House liaison Joshua Whitehouse sent on Wednesday afternoon, removes 11 high-profile advisors from the Defense Policy Board, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright; retired Adm. Gary Roughead, who served as chief of naval operations; and a onetime ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman. Rudy De Leon, a former chief operating officer at the Pentagon once considered by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis for a high-level policy role, will also be ousted.

Also booted in today’s sweep of the board, which is effective immediately, were former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and David McCormick, a former Treasury Department undersecretary during the George W. Bush administration. Both had been added to the board by Mattis in 2017. Jamie Gorelick, a Clinton administration deputy attorney general; Robert Joseph, a chief U.S. nuclear negotiator who convinced Libya to give up weapons of mass destruction; former Bush Deputy National Security Advisor J.D. Crouch II; and Franklin Miller, a former top defense official, have also been removed.

This story is based on interviews with three current and former officials. In a statement late Wednesday, the Department of Defense confirmed the decision. “As part of long-considered changes, we can confirm that several members of the Department’s Defense Policy Board have been removed,” a defense official said. “We are extremely grateful for their dedicated service, commitment, and contributions to our national security. Future announcements for new members of the board will be made soon.”

The board, overseen by the Pentagon’s top policy official, the undersecretary of defense for policy, serves as a kind of in-house think tank on retainer for top military leaders, providing independent counsel and advice on defense policy. The Defense Policy Board includes former top military brass, secretaries of state, members of Congres….

BY JACK DETSCH, ROBBIE GRAMER | NOVEMBER 25, 2020, 3:51 PM

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