Vets slam Trump's defense secretary pick as 'a toady and a yes man'

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Trump's chosen secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, is coming under fire early in the nomination process.

Trump finally decided on Thursday to officially nominate Patrick Shanahan, the acting secretary of defense, to become the permanent secretary of defense — a key role that has been vacant for over 125 days, the longest period in American history since the position was created.

The position has been unfilled since Jim Mattis quit in December 2018. Trump has faced sharp criticism for dragging his feet so long on such an important nomination — and veterans advocates aren't pleased with the choice he came up with after all this time.

"Donald Trump wants nothing more than a toady and a yes man, to do whatever he wants, with no push back," said Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and chair of the veterans' advocacy group VoteVets, in a statement slamming Shanahan.

Shanahan, Soltz said, "has happily banned qualified troops from service, has sent troops to do public relations shows on the border, and has done nothing to help create a coherent global security strategy that protects America and serves our troops and their families."

The veteran bluntly advised Congress not to give in to Trump's selection.

"Shanahan should only be confirmed if Congress is looking to fill up the swamp and clear the highest levels of government of people who will tell Donald Trump what he needs to know, not what he wants to hear," Soltz said.

The nomination has also received early criticism from Congress.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) is urging senators to vote against the nomination, noting Shanahan's role in the investigation of the 2017 ambush in Niger that killed 4 American soldiers. The soldiers were sent on their mission by Trump despite concerns over a lack of military support.

In April, Shanahan promised Gallego he would investigate why families of the fallen have not received copies of the investigation into the ambush. That review has not yet been released, and Gallego faults Shanahan's leadership for the delay.

"He should be worried about what lessons we could have learned from this Niger ambush and also who were the general officers that were responsible for making these big mistakes that cost these men's lives," Gallego told the site Task & Purpose on Thursday, referring to Shanahan. "We as a public have a right to know that and he is part of the problem and not the solution."

If this is how Shanahan's nomination is being received in the first 24 hours of the process, it could be a rough road ahead for both him and the Trump administration.

Published with permission of The American Independent.