The Department of Defense on Tuesday was prepped for the ultimate battle to secure the Republic with three appointments of close allies of U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
As the nation braces for the reversal of the provisional vote count, with the veracity of millions of ballots thrown into question as details of the widespread election rigging emerge, President Trump named his closest confidants to helm the Department of Defense. The appointments point to the activation of arms of the military to maintain the peace once VP Joe Biden’s early victory is overturned.
On Monday, President Trump replaced Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a West Point grad and later Raytheon lobbyist, with Christopher Miller, a former Special Operations commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, who was already been approved by the Senate to lead the National Counterterriorism Center.
On Tuesday, two more appointments were announced.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a confidant of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was named to replace Vice Admiral Joseph Kernan, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, as Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Kash Patel, aide to California Congressman Devin Nunes who discredited the Russia investigation and advisor to former Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, was named Acting Defense Secretary Miller’s Chief of Staff, replacing Jen Stewart.
At top of the Defense organization, Miller is seen as a more hands-on leader to replace Esper, who was critical of President Trump’s positioning of the military as defenders of peace on domestic territory. As revealed in this report, the military arm that’s expected to perform those tasks is the elite unit of the Department of Homeland Security.
Miller oversaw special operations forces in counterterrorism, Military Information Support Operations, Information Operations, unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter proliferation, sensitive special operations, and personnel recovery and hostage issues.
Miller was in Special Forces and served in numerous command and staff positions within the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), culminating with command of the 2nd Battalion, 5th SFG(A). He participated in the initial combat operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, in addition to numerous follow-on deployments to both theaters, and has extensive inter-agency and joint special operations experience.
Cohen-Watnick is a former Intelligence aide to the president who exited the White House surrounded by controversy in 2017. In May, he returned to the administration as a senior staff member in the Department of Defense, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Narcotics and Global Threats.
Cohen-Watnick was Senior Director for Intelligence under then National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, during the first few months of the Trump administration. As Gen. Flynn was pushed out amid the FBI-baked scandal, Cohen-Watnick was also squeezed out after disagreements with Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster, over policies in Afghanistan, where he also served.
Cohen-Watnick’s ties with Flynn placed him at great odds with many career members of the Intelligence community, particularly the CIA, where Flynn targeted corruption, according to some familiar with the White House National Security Council’s inner workings.
He was also one of two staffers who gave information to Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on intelligence gathering that challenged the narrative of the Mueller’s Russia probe.
Cohen-Watnick worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), beginning in 2010, where he served in Miami, Haiti, Virginia and Afghanistan. He was accepted into the training program for the Defense Clandestine Service and underwent training at Camp Peary where he was trained by the Central Intelligence Agency, and then assigned to Afghanistan, with a GS-13 rank, and later temporarily assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters in 2014. Cohen-Watnick left the DIA for the NSC on 20 January 2017.
Kashyap “Kash” Patel is a member of the National Security Council. Patel was a staffer for California Republican Devin Nunes, who was Chair of the House Intelligence Committee from 2015 to 2019 and instrumental in debunking the Russia-Russia-Russia conspiracy revealed by FISAGate, when the Obama administration lied to FISA courts to secure wiretaps that gave them access to candidate Trump’s inner circle. Patel was the key staffer who worked on the Nunes memo that broke open that scandal. He also worked closely with former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani to bring Joe Biden’s Ukraine corruption to light.
After Grenell was named acting DNI in February, Patel was added as a senior adviser. He traveled to Syria, marking the first time in over a decade that a high-level US official met with the Syrian government, to secure the release of at least two U.S. held by Assad’s government, including freelance journalist Austin Tice and Syrian-American therapist Majd Kamalmaz.