Top Pentagon Official John Rood Leaves at President Trump’s Request

John Rood
EJ Hersom/U.S. Department of Defense

The Pentagon’s top policy official, John Rood, is leaving his position at the end of the month, the department announced on Wednesday.

Pentagon Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement:

At the end of this month, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood will step down from his role with the Department. Dr. James Anderson, the current senior official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will take over the responsibilities of Undersecretary Rood until a permanent replacement is appointed by the President and confirmed.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper thanked Rood for his service to the Pentagon:

I would like to thank John Rood for his service to the Department. John has played a critical role on a wide range of DoD issues including modernizing our nuclear deterrence capability, efforts to increase burden sharing by our NATO allies, our Missile Defense Review and implementing the National Defense Strategy. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Rood’s resignation letter said the president had requested his resignation:

Mr. President, It’s my understanding from Secretary Esper that you requested my resignation from serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Senior administration officials appointed by the President serve at the pleasure of the President, and therefore, as you have requested, I am providing my resignation effective February 28, 2020.

Rood had certified $250 million in military aid for Ukraine last year that was later temporarily held by the White House, as it reviewed the aid. When asked whether it had anything to do with Rood’s resignation, Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Rood’s letter “speaks for itself.”

He called the president’s request for Rood’s resignation his “prerogative with regard to any political appointee in the administration.”

Bloomberg reported that Rood had faced pressure to resign from “key figures who lost confidence in his ability to carry out President Donald Trump’s agenda.”

Rood was under secretary of Defense for policy, a post he held since January 2018. He was the official who certified in May to Congress that Ukraine was eligible to receive $250 million in security assistance.

Rood joined the Department in January 2018 after serving as a vice president at Lockheed Martin. He had previously served at the Central Intelligence Agency, the NSC, and as a Senate staffer to former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).


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