Patrick Michael Shanahan (born June 27, 1962) is an American government official serving as acting United States Secretary of Defense since 2019. President Donald Trump appointed Shanahan to the role after the resignation of Retired General James N. Mattis. Shanahan served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2017 to 2019. He previously spent thirty years at Boeing in a variety of roles.
United States Department of Defense (2017–present)
Deputy Secretary of Defense
On March 16, 2017, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Shanahan as the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon's second-highest civilian position. Trump nominated Shanahan to lead plans to increase the size of the military.
Shanahan's Senate confirmation hearing took place on June 20, 2017. During the hearing, Senator John McCain, a proponent of providing arms to Ukraine, threatened to block Shanahan's nomination over his response in a written statement about whether or not the U.S. should provide such weapons to Ukraine. Shanahan said he did not have access to classified military information in order to make a decision on the matter.
Robert O. Work, the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the end of the Obama administration, remained in the position until Shanahan's confirmation. Shanahan was confirmed by the United States Senate with a vote of 92–7 on July 18, 2017, and became the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 19, 2017. The position reports directly to the United States Secretary of Defense.
Acting Secretary of Defense
President Trump initially announced that Shanahan would be elevated on February 28 to Acting Defense Secretary, when the Mattis resignation was originally to become effective. But a follow-up Trump Twitter announcement on December 23 stated that Shanahan would be elevated two months prior to the resignation date announced by Mattis. Trump accelerated Mattis’s departure date after reportedly becoming angered by the media coverage of his resignation letter, due to language in Mattis’ resignation letter which criticized Trump's worldview. Shanahan assumed the office on January 1, 2019.
Shanahan made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on February 11, meeting with President Ashraf Ghani, the country's chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, and defense minister Asadullah Khalid during the first few hours of his trip.