Derek Chollet, a senior State Department official nominated last year for the Pentagon’s top policy role, will become Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s new chief of staff.

Austin announced the decision in a statement Monday morning, calling Chollet “one of the most distinguished, far-sighted, and skillful national-security practitioners of his generation.”

The decision comes nearly two weeks after Austin’s longtime Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen said she would leave her post in late June, after three and a half years in the role. It also puts to rest the long saga of Chollet’s nomination to lead the Pentagon’s policy shop, afflicted by personnel turnover since its former leader Colin Kahl left last summer.

Shortly after Kahl left, the White House submitted Chollet’s name to fill the role. But the confirmation stalled in the Senate, in large part due to Republican objections over his role in the Afghanistan pullout in 2021.

Those frustrations crescendoed last September in a contentious hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Since then there has been no progress in actually confirming Chollet. The decision to move him to the chief of staff role may also have to do with the calendar. There’s only seven months until January, when there could be a turnover in administrations depending on November’s election

Amanda Dory, a longtime Pentagon hand, is now serving as undersecretary of defense for policy on an acting basis.

Magsamen’s deputy, Caroline Zier, was initially set to take over the chief of staff role. Chollet, who has served in senior positions within the Pentagon before, will start in July.

Noah Robertson is the Pentagon reporter at Defense News. He previously covered national security for the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and government from the College of William & Mary in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.

More In Pentagon
Biden drops out of 2024 race
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised Biden for his "profound and personal commitment to the Department of Defense and the American military" on Sunday.