Another Pentagon Woman Resigns After Missing Top Job; Ties to McCain, Mattis Cited for Glass Ceiling

Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs submitted her resignation after being passed over for a new role in the Trump administration because of her opposing views and support from the President’s critics.
This is the second high-ranking woman to resign this week after being passed over for a top job, but, in both cases, it was due to their allegiances to goals outside the MAGA agenda.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs (ISA), poses for her official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 4, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

On February 13 the White House announced that Wheelbarger was nominated for the role of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. Last week Bradley Hansell, a retired Army Special Forces officer, was named as the nominee for the role instead.

U.S. officials accuse the White House of passing over Wheelbarger because of her work with the late Republican Senator John McCain who was a fierce critic of President Trump and the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Wheelbarger also had ties to former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who recently rebuked Trump’s response to nationwide racial injustice protests. Wheelbarger worked as policy director and counsel on the Senate Armed Services Committee when McCain led the panel.

She provided leadership in support of the National Defense Strategy over the past three years and is highly regarded by national security experts among Trump’s Republican party and among Democrats.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said:

“I received Katie Wheelbarger’s letter of resignation from the Department of Defense. In her role as Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Katie brought a wealth of experience and the utmost professionalism to the Department throughout her service. Her leadership in support of the National Defense Strategy is evident in the proud accomplishments of her team. She is someone I got to know well over the last three years and, with sincere appreciation for her many contributions and years of service, I wish Katie the very best in what I’m sure will be a very bright future.”

Wheelbarger is the second woman this week to resign from her role. On June 16, Elaine McCusker submitted her resignation as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). She had questioned the legality of holding up weapons funding for the Ukraine during the impeachment attempt against President Trump. She previously worked on the Armed Services Committee under the Obama administration.

Wheelbarger’s resignation is effective July fourth.

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