Number Three Pentagon Official To Leave at Trump’s Behest
Feb. 20, 2020 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, the Department of Defense announced that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood would be leaving his post by the end of the month and that Dr. James Anderson, currently performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary, would become the acting undersecretary until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed. News media began speculation about the reasons for Rood’s departure almost immediately, with CNN placing Rood in the middle of the Ukrainian military aid flap that was used as the pretext for Trump’s impeachment. By all accounts, Rood indicated in his resignation letter that he was leaving at the request of President Donald Trump, who, he said, has the right to have his own policy team in place. Since his Senate confirmation in January 2018, Rood had helped oversee implementation of the National Defense Strategy, which formed the basis of the Pentagon orientation against Russia and China as adversaries, and the Nuclear Posture Review, which set the basis for the deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads onboard Trident missile submarines.
CNN cited unnamed former officials saying that Rood broke with the Trump Administration on a number of issues, including the matter of military aid to Ukraine, leading to a loss of support from leadership. These officials said that Rood was often perceived as not embracing changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted. Rood’s disagreements included skepticism about negotiations with the Afghan Taliban and the decisions to scale back exercises with South Korea. According to CNN, Rood was the author of the certification to Congress that Ukraine had embarked on significant reforms, thus justifying the release of $250 million in security assistance, which undermined administration concerns about Kiev’s corruption. Shortly after the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the phone call that was paced at the center of the impeachment attempt against President Trump, Rood told Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in an email that “placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.”