WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday announced its intention to nominate Bradley Hansell, a former special assistant to President Donald Trump, as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
That would seem to spell the end for the nomination of Kathryn Wheelbarger, who on Feb. 25 was announced as the intended nominee for that same job. Her nomination had stalled out since, reportedly over a view from Trump administration officials that she is not sufficiently loyal to the president.
Hansell is currently an associate director with the Boston Consulting Group. He served as a special assistant for national security to Trump from 2017-2019, focusing on transnational threats. He spent six years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer before joining the Army Special Forces, where his bio claims command of forces in South America and Afghanistan.
If confirmed, Hansell would replace Kari Bingen, who departed earlier this year, as the No. 2 civilian intelligence official in the Defense Department.
Wheelbarger started in the administration as principal deputy assistant secretary for international security affairs. Since October 2018, she has served as acting assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, following the departure of Robert Karem from that role. She had a number of jobs prior to joining the administration, including as deputy staff director and senior counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and a stint as Senate Armed Services Committee policy director from January 2015 to January 2017.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Wheelbarger is still serving as the acting Acting ASD for international security affairs.
As of April 22, a full third of the 60 senate-confirmed jobs at the Pentagon were empty. Since then, the Senate has confirmed three officials while the White House has moved a number of nominations into the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On Thursday, the White House formally sent the nomination of Anthony Tata, a retired general and current Fox News commentator, to be undersecretary of defense for policy. He joins a long queue of officials awaiting a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Shon Manasco as the Air Force undersecretary; Michele Pearce to be general counsel of the Army; Lucas Polakowski to be assistant secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense; John Whitley to be director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office; Louis Bremer to be assistant secretary for special operations/low intensity conflict; and Jason Abend to be inspector general.
Experts have questioned whether the Senate, in an election year schedule already shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic and with a full plate of issues, will be able to move significant numbers of nominees through before it ends business for the year.
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.