We have neither a secretary nor a deputy secretary of defense. The secretary of the Army, who has very little background in strategy—his previous government position was a sixth-degree deputy assistant secretary—is now the acting secretary. And just for good measure, the secretary of the Air Force post is also vacant.
It gets worse.
As of now, the leading candidate for the top job at defense seems to be Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, who misled the Congress during his hearings on his ties with pro-Confederate groups and whose first job was working for the late Senator Jesse Helms. One of the most important tasks of the Secretary of Defense is working with the Congress over the Department’s budget. If Wilkie is confirmed after a contentious confirmation process, how enthusiastic will Congressional Democrats be about working with him?
It gets worse, still.
The current secretary of the Navy has zero strategy background and came from the private sector. We don’t have an Undersecretary for Readiness and Personnel as services are failing to meet their recruitment goals and are struggling with retention more than ever. We don’t have an assistant secretary for International Security Affairs which concerns the Middle East and European security—even as tensions with Iran are rising and Russia is trying to test deterrence in Europe while the president publicly undermines NATO.