Austin asks hundreds of Pentagon policy advisers to resign ahead of review

Retired General Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to be the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C., in January. Pool Photo by Greg Nash/UPI

Feb. 3 (UPI) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called for the resignation of hundreds of volunteer advisers to the Pentagon appointed by former President Donald Trump in the final months of his presidency, as well as a review of the committees they serve on.

The Pentagon announced the “zero-based review” of all of its advisory committees on Tuesday, following a memo issued by Austin last weekend outlining the review, specifying the committees and setting deadlines for adviser resignations.

Austin gave the advisers until Feb. 16 to resign or be terminated, and said the work of 42 committees will be reviewed and changes recommended by June 1, in the memo, which was first reported by The Wall Street JournalUSA Today and Politico.

Defense department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Austin became concerned about the unprecedented pace of appointments Trump made toward the end of his term.

He decided the fairest way to address the concern was to ask each of the hundreds of new employees to leave their positions.

The change will reportedly affect individuals appointed by Chris Miller, who served as acting secretary of defense in the last two months of Trump’s administration, following the termination of Mark Esper shortly after the election.

The appointed individuals, including Trump campaign officials Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, were among the appointees to the boards in recent months, as was Kash Patel, who served as Miller’s chief of staff.

“Advisory boards have and will continue to provide an important role in shaping public policy within [the Department of Defense],” Austin said in the memo, which is dated Saturday.

“That said, our stewardship responsibilities require that we continually assess to ensure each advisory committee provides appropriate value today,” Austin said.

The boards include one established by Congress to advise the Defense Department on changing the names of installations that honor Confederate generals — a change Trump resisted to the point of threatening to veto the final defense bill of his administration.

Austin will appoint four new members to the board tasked with reviewing Confederate names and imagery on military property.

Last week, ahead of the memo, Austin suspended the onboarding process for Trump administration nominees to Pentagon advisory boards.


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