Monica King/U.S. Army

5 things to know about new acting Sec Def Patrick Shanahan

December 26, 2018 - 12:50 pm

By Julia LeDoux

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Dec. 23 that James Mattis would be stepping down from his role as defense secretary Jan. 1 and that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan would be replacing him in an acting role until a permanent replacement could be named.

Shanahan, 56, is a native of Washington State who holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and two graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Here are 5 things you need to know about the incoming Secretary of Defense:

  1. He’s never worn the nation’s uniform: Shanahan has never served in the military and doesn’t have much government or foreign policy experience. But, for the past 17 months, Shanahan has served as Mattis’ second in command at the Pentagon, concentrating on internal reforms, budgetary matters and the Space Force, according to CNN


  1. His dad served: Shanahan’s late father, Mike, was an Army vet who served in Vietnam. The proud son has been quoted as saying, “growing up, my understanding of the war came from my dad, his friends and the few stories they would share.”


  1. Call him “Mr. Fix-it”: Shanahan is a long-time Boeing executive, working for the defense contractor for more than 30 years before moving over to the Defense Department. He was most recently Boeing’s senior vice president of supply chain and operations and has been credited with making some of the company’s most problematic programs, including the 787 Dreamliner, successful.


  1. The Force is with him: While others in the DoD scoffed at Trump’s plans for a Space Force, the branch of the military which would be responsible for operations in space, Shanahan continues to support the idea:



  1. He’s got a fan at 1600: Trump’s relationship with Mattis may not have been the best, but the President appears to like Shanahan, predicting that he will do great things in a tweet:

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