Also made official was the nomination of Victor Mercado as assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, replacing James Anderson, who Trump plans to nominate to be deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.
Anderson, has been in the assistant secretary role since August 2018, but performing as deputy USD-P since David Trachtenberg retired in July. His profile was raised again on Feb. 19, when John Rood, the undersecretary for policy, was forced out, at which point Anderson began serving as the acting in that role.
Before joining the administration, Anderson served as Marine Corps University’s vice president of academic affairs. Historically a proponent of investments in missile defense, Anderson authored the 1999 book “America at Risk: The Citizen’s Guide to Missile Defense,” which details the risk of an attack from Russia, China or a “third-world” power. From 1986 to 1989 he served in the Marines as an intelligence officer.
Also among the personnel announcements today was the appointment of Heather Wilson, the former secretary of the Air Force, to a six-year term as a member of the National Science Board. Wilson served as secretary from 2017 to 2019 before resigning to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso.
The notification about Anderson’s pending nomination appears to be part of a broader push to fill empty spots at the department. In the last week, the White House has announced the nominations of Matt Donovan as undersecretary for personnel and readiness and William Jordan Gillis, to be the next assistant secretary of defense for sustainment.
The administration has also announced its intent to nominate Kathryn Wheelbarger, to be deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security.
However, the White House on Monday scuttled the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be the department’s comptroller, leaving that key position without a nominee going forward.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.