Trump taps ex-Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan as acting Defense Secretary | News | DW | 23.12.2018
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Trump taps ex-Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan as acting Defense Secretary

After US General James Mattis resigned as defense secretary, President Donald Trump tapped one of his deputies, Patrick Shanahan, to be acting head of defense. Shanahan is an engineer who built his career at Boeing.

USA Patrick Shanahan (picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Martin)

Shanahan (center) sat on Boeing's executive council

The US Department of Defense will be led by Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan starting January 1, President Donald Trump announced on Sunday. Trump described the relatively unknown Shanahan as "very talented."

"He will be great!" Trump tweeted.

The 56-year-old had no political or military experience before becoming Mattis' first deputy in 2017.

Shanahan is a mechanical engineer by vocation and previously served as a senior vice president at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Shanahan spent three decades working at Boeing. 

According to The Seattle Times, Shanahan ran the company's division in charge of producing military helicopters, including the iconic Apache and Chinook helicopter programs.

Starting in 2004, he also ran Boeing's ballistic-missile defense program for almost three years, based in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this week, Mattis stepped down as defense secretary following Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. Upon resigning, the general said he would stay in office until the end of February to ensure an orderly transition. However, Trump was  annoyed by the media attention surrounding Mattis' bluntly-worded resignation letter, according to US officials cited by the AP news agency. Trump's displeasure allegedly prompted Mattis to leave earlier than planned.

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