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Patrick M. Shanahan appointed interim U.S. Defense Secretary from January 1, 2019.

| 2018

Patrick Shanahan, will take Tuesday the first role, at a time when the military apparatus of the United States enters a delicate phase. At 56, he is propelled interim Defense Secretary after the resignation of Jim Mattis December 20, because of deep disagreements with President Donald Trump, including the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. The general, who embodied a form of stability in an administration crossed by jolts, said he would leave late February to allow a smooth transition with his successor. Donald Trump, apparently annoyed by the media coverage of the resignation, decided to advance the calendar on January 1st.

Patrick M. Shanahan appointed interim U.S. Defense Secretary from January 1 2019
Patrick M. Shanahan appointed interim U.S. Defense Secretary from January 1, 2019 (Picture source: US DoD)

Patrick M. Shanahan became the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 19, 2017. He served as Boeing senior vice president, Supply Chain & Operations. A Washington state native, Mr. Shanahan joined Boeing in 1986 and spent over three decades with the company. He previously worked as senior vice president of Commercial Airplane Programs, managing profit and loss for the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs and the operations at Boeing's principal manufacturing sites; as vice president and general manager of the 787 Dreamliner, leading the program during a critical development period; as vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, overseeing the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, Airborne Laser and Advanced Tactical Laser; and as vice president and general manager of Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, overseeing the Apache, Chinook and Osprey. He previously held leadership positions on the 757 program, 767 program and in the fabrication division.

Patrick Shanahan is a Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow, Society of Manufacturing Engineers Fellow and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow. He served as a regent at the University of Washington for over five years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and two advanced degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering, and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

It is now up to him to manage the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops deployed in Syria, a partial withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact of these decisions on the ground and for the allies of the Americans. In his position as deputy, Patrick Shanahan helped reorient the Pentagon's budget against the threats posed by Russia and China. He also strongly supported Donald Trump's idea of creating a "space force" as the sixth branch of the armed forces by 2020. The project still needs to be endorsed by Congress.

If he wants to lose the "interim" attached to his new title of SecretaryMinister of Defense, he will have to enter a more political ground. First to reassure the allies of the United States, which Donald Trump regularly criticizes to rely too much on the US military. But also to moderate the rage of the president without triggering his wrath. The Republican President does not hesitate to dismiss those who contradict him and has dismissed his Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson or White House Secretary General John Kelly. "All his adult life, Shanahan made a dissenting voice to his leaders when it was necessary," says a manager who knows him well. "He will have no qualms about continuing."


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