Defense Secretary Austin cleans house at Pentagon over Trump appointments

The new Defense Department boss ordered resignations from all members of its 42 advisory boards, along with a detailed review.

Fresh off his confirmation as Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin III took immediate action to clear out members of the Pentagon’s 42 advisory boards. Austin dismissed every single member, including those who were added in the waning hours of the Donald Trump presidency.

Before he left the White House, former President Trump added several of his loyalists to several boards, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits National Guard troops deployed at the U.S. Capitol and its surrounding area. (Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta-Pool/Getty Images)

In a statement, chief Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said: “The Secretary was deeply concerned with the pace and the extent of recent changes to memberships of department advisory committees, and this review will allow him now to quickly get his arms around the purpose of these boards and to make sure the advisory committees are in fact providing the best possible advice to department leadership.”

Only people who were appointed by the new White House administration or Congress will remain. Austin ordered resignations effective as of Feb. 16 and requested a detailed departmental review of the boards’ work.

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“There’s no question that the frenetic activity that occurred to the composition of so many boards in just the period of November to January deeply concerned the secretary and certainly helped drive him to this decision,” said Kirby.

The Pentagon’s advisory boards are made up of unpaid civilians who provide guidance on issues such as defense policy, science, innovation, health matters, sexual misconduct, plus diversity and inclusion. The groups serve the public interest by providing the department with independent, informed advice and opinion concerning major matters of policy.

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They focus on long-term, enduring issues central to the strategic planning of the Department of Defense, and some experts consider their work redundant, which also makes the review additionally necessary.

In a memo to the department, Austin wrote: “Our stewardship responsibilities require that we continually assess to ensure each advisory committee provides appropriate value today and in the future, as times and requirements change.”

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