Robert Work will be nominated to serve in the Pentagon’s No. 2 spot, the White House announced Friday.
The decision is by no means a surprise. News of the pending nomination broke a few days ago, and the Senate Armed Service Committee jumped the gun this morning, announcing it would hold his confirmation hearing next week.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked the committee for its “prompt action.”
Work, who is currently the CEO at the Center for a New American Security, previously served as the under secretary for the Navy, with Hagel calling him an “admired and tested leader” and a “nationally recognized strategic thinker.”
Work, if confirmed, will replace Acting Deputy Secretary Christine Fox, who stepped into the role in December, becoming the Pentagon’s highest-ranking woman.
The former Navy official returns to the Pentagon as it faces a challenging fiscal environment, and draws down its presence in Afghanistan.
Hagel sidestepped questions about a drawdown timeline, specific U.S. troop levels, or when he believes a bilateral security agreement would be signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but he did say that Pentagon leaders continue to work with allies to plan for a “post-2014 mission.”
Hagel also addressed the department’s ongoing ethics scandals, noting that he plans to appoint a senior-level ethics officer.
“I don’t think there is one simple answer to the issue of ethics, values, a lapse in some of those areas that we do know about,” Hagel said. “That’s why we’re taking a hard look at this. I think we need to find out: Is there a deep, wide problem? If there is, then what’s the scope of that problem. How did this occur.”
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."