“For someone like Michèle Flournoy,” the expert continued, “isn’t it better to influence policy from the outside rather than be held hostage to the Defense Department?”

On top of that, the new defense secretary will be dealing with a huge but declining budget over which he or she has almost no control.

“The Obama administration is now in the market for their fourth secretary of Defense,” said House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). “When the president goes through three secretaries, he should ask, ‘Is it them, or is it me?’”