Trump Mulls Nominating 'China Hawk' James Webb as Pentagon Chief

Additionally, the paper reported that a senior Defense Department official said Webb's name was in the mix.

On Wednesday, he lied and said that Defense Secretary James Mattis, who turned in a resignation letter before the end of the year, was "essentially" fired.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on Shanahan's views on China.

Other officials have described Shanahan as an advocate of the Pentagon's toughening stance toward Beijing.

"In 2019, the National Defense Strategy remains our guide".

Meanwhile, retired General David Petraeus said he is not considering joining in the Trump Administration. -China relationship is the "greatest strategic threat that we have right now".

A defense official who attended the meeting said Shanahan had told colleagues a major concern would be China. In that context, Shanahan told the civilian leaders to remember, in his words, "China, China, China".

On his first day as acting defense secretary, Pat Shanahan is emphasizing that China should be the Pentagon's main focus. Trump could face an uphill battle finding someone who can be confirmed by the Senate in the wake of Mattis' acrimonious departure. Both men have publicly criticized Trump's national security decisions and his temperament in recent weeks. "We can't let that happen, and Pat Shanahan agrees with that and he's agreed with that for a long time". The Pentagon appeared to be taking steps to prepare for an extended tenure. Shanahan had been the deputy secretary since July 2017.

At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump said Mattis "couldn't believe" how much federal money Trump had helped secure for the military.

In a brief statement issued by his office, Shanahan said he was looking forward "to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders" of the U.S. defence and military establishment.

That vision includes a surprise withdrawal from Syria and an expected drawdown in Afghanistan, America's longest war. He spent his entire career with Boeing and has no previous government experience.

During Shanahan's tense Senate confirmation hearing, the committee's then-chairman, John McCain, voiced deep concern about giving the deputy job to an executive from one of the five corporations accounting for the lion's share of USA defence spending.

  • Jon Douglas