President Donald Trump plans to nominate Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing Co executive, as his defense secretary, the White House said on Thursday, breaking with tradition by choosing someone who made a career at a top defense company as Pentagon chief.
Shanahan had been under investigation by the Pentagon inspector general for allegedly seeking preferential treatment of Boeing while at the Defense Department but he was cleared of wrongdoing in April. He has been acting defense secretary since January.
Based upon his outstanding service to the country and his demonstrated ability to lead, President Trump intends to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be the secretary of defense, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Shanahan said in a statement that he was committed to modernizing the US military forces and if confirmed would aggressively implement Trump's national defense strategy.
Shanahan, 56, was thrust into the role in an acting capacity in January, after Jim Mattis abruptly resigned over policy differences with Trump.
If confirmed to the top job by the Senate, he would take charge of the U.S. military at a time when it is shifting its focus towards Russia and China after more than a decade and a half of concentrating heavily on the fight against Islamist militants.
On his first day as acting Pentagon chief in January, Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military to focus on China, China, China.
Shanahan is expected to be confirmed by senators, though he could face a tough confirmation process because of his tenure at Boeing.
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