On the first working day in his new role, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he was focused on implementing the National Defense Strategy developed under then-Secretary Jim Mattis which calls for a shift in emphasis toward great power competition, during a meeting with service secretaries and other senior leaders. Shanahan said the leaders should remember, “China, China, China,” according to one official, reported Stars and Stripes. Shanahan later attended a Cabinet meeting at the White House. Mattis formally turned over the reins of the Pentagon to Shanahan at midnight on Dec. 31, after President Trump previously announced Mattis would not be staying until the end of February as his Dec. 20 resignation letter stated. … Shanahan could remain acting secretary for “a long time,” a description Trump used during his surprise visit to Iraq last week, reported Military Times. Shanahan may be the leading candidate to replace Mattis, but the president so far hasn’t signaled his intention. Among other leading contenders for the post is Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. … David Norquist, who has served as Pentagon comptroller since May 2017, will become the department’s acting deputy defense secretary and assume Shanahan’s former duties, an official said Wednesday. “David Norquist has had insight into virtually every tenet of this department. I have the greatest confidence in his abilities to lead a phenomenally talented team while performing the duties as deputy secretary of defense,” Shanahan said in a statement. As DOD’s chief financial officer, Norquist most recently led the department’s first comprehensive audit, reported the Hill.
DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith