The sweeping dismissal of Pentagon officials, an overhaul that began on Monday with President Donald Trump’s sudden firing of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, has continued. The Intercept has learned that Mark Tomb, the deputy chief of staff to the undersecretary of defense for policy, was ousted from his position yesterday.
Tomb, who declined to comment when reached by phone, was forced into retirement as part of a wave of firings of top Defense Department officials that included James Anderson, the Pentagon’s acting policy chief; Joseph Kernan, the undersecretary for intelligence; and Esper’s former chief of staff Jennifer Stewart.
The Tuesday exodus represents a major shake-up that has been planned for months, according to one Trump administration official briefed on the effort, with more firings to come across the department.
That official, who shared a draft list of other Pentagon officials under consideration for removal, said that Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, would likely be dismissed next.
“The president is taking back control of DOD. It’s a rebirth of foreign policy. This is Trump foreign policy,” said the official, who spoke anonymously and without authorization.
The personnel changes, the official claimed, would help clear the way for a more loyal Pentagon apparatus to carry out Trump’s goals, including the last-minute withdrawal of troops from foreign conflicts. Trump has promised a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Christmas, a pledge that has reportedly rankled senior figures in the military, including several of the Pentagon leaders dismissed this week.
The official’s explanation is at odds with possible explanations discussed around Washington, D.C., that the dismissals are solely designed to punish dissent and to politicize the Pentagon, a charge made by Democratic lawmakers.
The president has replaced political appointees, a right reserved by the president, though no president in recent memory has made such sweeping changes to the Pentagon’s leadership during a presidential transition period. The unusual shake-up has unsettled observers of the military who fear further politicization of the government.
The firings also make way for controversial figures who are seen as far more dutiful in protecting Trump and carrying out his agenda. Anderson was swiftly replaced on Tuesday with Brig.