Trump picks Army official for sustainment job; intel nominee coming soon

Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday formally nominated William Jordan Gillis to be the next assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, and the administration expects to soon send to Congress a nomination for a new intelligence leader.

Gillis joined the Defense Department in October 2017, serving as acting assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment. Since January 2019, he has been principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.

He replaces Robert McMahon, who took over the sustainment job in late 2018. McMahon exited the department in November, according to a Pentagon spokesman, as part of a wave of exits that saw at least six key department officials retire or resign their posts before the end of the year. Peter Potochney has been serving as the acting assistant secretary of defense for sustainment in McMahon’s stead.

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The ASD for sustainment serves two levels down from acquisition and sustainment chief Ellen Lord, and is in charge of logistics and material readiness as well as oversight of facilities and infrastructure issues.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced its intent to nominate Kathryn Wheelbarger as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security.

Wheelbarger started in the administration as principal deputy assistant secretary for international security affairs. Since October 2018, she has served as acting assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, following the departure of Robert Karem from that role. She had a number of jobs prior to joining the administration, including as deputy staff director and senior counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and a stint as Senate Armed Services Committee policy director from January 2015 to January 2017.

A number of international partners have praised Wheelbarger’s work, with several telling Defense News last year that they were concerned she may look to depart the building if not given a more permanent role.

She replaces Kari Bingen, who departed earlier this year, as the No. 2 intelligence official in the Defense Department. However, Wheelbarger’s departure from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s policy division leaves yet another hole there, whose top two leaders have both left within the last eight months.