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Gingrich among Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory board

Thought Leader: Newt Gingrich
December 16, 2020
Source: Link

The Pentagon named eight new members to the Defense Policy Board on Monday, including Trump loyalist and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, less than a month after purging many of the group’s influential members.

The appointments to the panel, which advises Pentagon leaders on policy issues, follow a similar purge and replacement at the Defense Business Board, another top advisory group.

New members: Chief among the new board appointees is Gingrich, an ally of President Donald Trump.

The other appointees are Thomas Carter, Edward Luttwak, Scott O’Grady, Thomas Stewart, former Rep. Randy Forbes, former Sen. Robert Smith and Charles Glazer.

O’Grady, a former Air Force F-16 pilot who was shot down over Bosnia in 1995 and survived for nearly a week in hostile territory, was nominated by Trump in November to be assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. The Senate hasn’t acted on O’Grady’s 11th-hour nomination.

CNN reported that O’Grady, a Trump supporter, shared baseless conspiracy theories on Twitter that called the president’s loss to former Vice President Joe Biden a “coup.”

Forbes, a former House Republican, chaired the Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee and was a candidate for Navy secretary early in Trump’s administration. Forbes caused friction among House Republicans by pushing the group’s campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, to deny financial support to some gay GOP candidates.

Smith, a former New Hampshire senator, was also an opponent of gay rights and voted against federal funding for schools that taught acceptance of homosexuality.

Carter, a retired major general in the Air Force Reserve, was the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization under Trump. Luttwak is a historian, strategist and consultant known for a 1968 book on coups. Stewart is a former Navy officer and businessman. Glazer is a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador under President George W. Bush.

Other appointments: Last week, the Pentagon named Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration who resigned recently, and Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute, to the board.

Personnel shakeup: The Pentagon removed nearly a dozen members of the panel in November, including Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, along with former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Foreign Policy first reported.

The White House this month also fired nine members of the Defense Business Board in a surprise move and installed several Trump allies, including David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski.

Trump last month also fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, replacing him with acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller. Other top Pentagon officials, including the intelligence and policy chiefs and the secretary’s chief of staff, resigned following Esper’s ouster.

Miller sings praises: In a statement, Miller said the panel “will benefit greatly” from the new members.

“These incoming members bring extensive defense and national security affairs experience to this advisory committee from their time in Congress, the State Department, our armed forces and beyond,” Miller said.

Will they serve? However, it’s not clear when the individuals will officially become members of the Defense Policy Board. Potential members must go through lengthy financial disclosure and security clearance process, which could take weeks or months, according to a defense official and several former defense advisory board members.

POLITICO has reported that many of Trump’s moves in the lame duck are expected to be canceled or altered after Biden takes office next month.

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