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Patrick Shanahan – The New Acting Secretary of Defense

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By Debbie Gregory.

Patrick M. Shanahan became the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 19, 2017.

Mr. Shanahan most recently served as Boeing senior vice presidento, 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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. Shanahan 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.

On January 2nd, former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan became the acting Secretary of Defense of the United States, replacing General James Mattis.

Mattis resigned in protest, stating that his views on pulling troops out of Syria and other national security issues were not “aligned” with those of President Trump.

Shanahan, 56, is a native of Seattle, Washington and graduated from Bishop Blanchet High School in 1980. He attended the University of Washington where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He then earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Shanahan’s career at Boeing began in 1986 with the 777 program. He remained there until 2017 when President Trump announced his intent to nominate Shanahan as the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon’s second-highest civilian position.

As Deputy Secretary of Defense, Shanahan spoke of renewed “great-power competition” with China and Russia. His message on his first day was largely focused on China during a special meeting of all the military service secretaries and the undersecretaries of defense.

His decision to urge the Pentagon’s leadership to focus on the threat posed by China came just hours before he attended a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Shanahan, who has no military experience and very little government experience, has yet to detail his thoughts on the way forward in Syria, where the Pentagon plans a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops over the coming months.

During the president’s visit with U.S. soldiers in Iraq over Christmas, Trump praised Shanahan as a “good buyer” of military equipment, not some master strategist. “I’m in no rush” to replace him, the president declared.

Shanahan plans to remain hands-on in formulating a proposal to establish a new military branch for space. The Space Working Group was established last year by Shanahan to hash out the details of standing up the new service branch. The group includes representatives from across the Defense Department.


By Debbie Gregory.

Just how much should be budgeted to create the Space Force military branch championed by President Trump? The estimates offered up by senior defense officials are not even close.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan believes the price tag will come in a “single digit, not a double-digit” billions of dollars. “It might be lower than $5” billion, he said, although he did not specify what time frame that estimate would cover.

But Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has estimated that standing up a Space Force and a new combatant command for space warfare would cost about $13 billion over five years.

“Our cost estimate that we gave to a lot of people in the Pentagon in September was the cost of a fully-fledged, stand-alone department and also a unified combatant command,” Wilson said. “The president is going to be making some decisions to put forward a proposal in concert with his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal that will go to the Congress in February. The costs will be really based on what are the elements in the model in that proposal.”

Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, estimated it would cost the Pentagon an additional $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion over five years to stand up a new service, based on the assumption that more than 96 percent of the cost would be covered from existing budget accounts within DoD. Harrison’s numbers, however, are hard to compare directly with Wilson’s because they do not include costly items that she put into her proposal, such as a Space Command and additional programs and people needed to fight rising space rivals China and Russia.