A third-generation Marine veteran and partner on Wall Street has been confirmed as a right-hand man for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Owen West was confirmed on Monday as assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict in a 74-23 Senate vote.
In this role, he’ll serve as a key adviser to Mattis on issues like counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, and information and psychological operations.
He’s the son of Bing West, a renowned Marine Vietnam vet, author and a former assistant secretary of defense himself, in international security affairs, during the Ronald Reagan years.
“My dad, Bing, had his confirmation hearing before this committee in 1981,” Owen West said in a July nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Among the many inspirational lessons he imparted: Government service is the ultimate end state. A military officer’s lifetime responsibility is to take care of our fighting men and women.”
Controversy over a 2016 editorial he co-wrote with his father against the integration of female Marines into combat jobs kept Owen West’s confirmation in limbo, according to Defense News. West apologized for what he called “reactionary” writing.
Owen West served as an infantry platoon commander, reconnaissance platoon leader and combat adviser, where he was twice deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to a White House press release.
He later worked for Wall Street’s top investment bank, Goldman Sachs.
The six-foot-four Harvard University and Stanford Business school grad was dubbed “the most badass banker on Wall Street” by Business Insider while he was at Goldman Sachs.
He rowed crew at Harvard undergrad while on a ROTC scholarship, and has attempted to climb Mt. Everest. He even raced six times on the 500-km adventure “Eco-Challenge” show (including races in Morocco, Utah and Borneo) produced by “Survivor” executive Mark Burnett, and was the only male on the year 2000’s Team Playboy X-Treme, with three former Playmates of the Month.
West knew he couldn’t drop out of that one.
“My God, if the Marine had dropped out and ruined the Playboy bunnies’ chances of finishing, I told my wife, we’d have to move to Australia and set up a small fishing operation,” West told CNN in 2001.
His third book, “The Snake Eaters,” is a nonfiction book about counterinsurgency advisers in Iraq.
West also helped an Iraqi interpreter he befriended gain American citizenship.
“I felt it was my duty,” West wrote in his book. “No one risked more for us than the interpreters. They dressed in American uniforms and patrolled alongside us. ... They do it all because there is an ideal that’s drawing them.”
Andrea Scott is managing editor of Marine Corps Times. On Twitter: @_andreascott.