- One of the few members of the Defense Business Board, a Pentagon advisory group, to survive a recent purge has resigned in protest, CNN first reported.
- In his resignation letter, Steve Blank wrote that Trump administration, by the purging of advisory boards and filling them with Trump allies, has “put the nation’s safety and security at risk.”
- The purge of the Defense Business Board last week followed the removal of most of the Defense Policy Board late last month.
- The Trump administration has also purged much of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership, clearing the way for loyalists to fill top posts.
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One of the few members of an important Pentagon advisory board who survived a recent purge has resigned in protest, and he sharply criticized President Donald Trump on his way out.
The White House pushed out nine members of the Defense Business Board, an independent panel of leading outside experts who provide advice to senior Pentagon leaders, on Friday and replaced some of the members with Trump allies, such as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former campaign staffer David Bossie.
Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said last Friday that he was “proud to welcome each of these new members to the Defense Business Board.”
He added that “these individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our Department, and our nation well.”
On Monday, Steve Blank, one of the few remaining members, resigned, writing in his resignation letter that “the abrupt termination of more than half of the Defense Business Board and their replacement with political partisans has now put the nation’s safety and security at risk,” CNN first reported.
“My service to the Department of Defense was a service to the country not to a party,” he wrote. “I hereby tender my resignation.”
Politico reporter Laura Seligman posted a copy of Blank’s resignation letter on Twitter.
—Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) December 7, 2020
The Defense Business Board shake-up followed another move late last month by the White House to remove 11 of the 13 members of the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisors who offer their perspectives on defense and national security matters.
In addition to pushing out defense advisors, the Trump administration has also purged a number of senior Pentagon officials.
Starting on November 9, Trump abruptly fired Mark Esper as secretary of defense, replacing him with Miller, who was previously the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
The next day, three more Pentagon officials resigned: the chief of staff to the secretary of defense, Jen Stewart; the under secretary of defense for policy, James Anderson; and the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, Joseph Kernan.
Those important positions within the Pentagon were filled by Trump loyalists, such as retired general and Fox News commentator Anthony Tata and former White House National Security Council officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Kash Patel.
Last week, it was reported that Chris Maier, head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force, had been forced to resign after he was told by the White House liaison that the war against ISIS had been won and that his office was being disbanded.
Maier’s duties were taken over by Tata and Cohen-Watnick, who occupy the top Pentagon policy and intelligence positions, respectively.