Trump loyalist put in top Pentagon post after purge 2 weeks ago now leads transition to incoming Biden administration

Trump loyalist put in top Pentagon post after purge 2 weeks ago now leads transition to incoming Biden administration
Kashyap "Kash" Pramod Patel listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement.Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The Pentagon has officially started the transition process, but there are questions about the man in charge.
  • The senior defense official leading the Pentagon transition is Kash Patel, a man widely seen as a Trump loyalist who was installed at the Pentagon after a leadership purge earlier this month.
  • Unlike his predecessor, Patel has been on the job for only two weeks, and that lack of experience may be a hindrance for the incoming administration, a former official told Insider.

The Department of Defense is officially making preparations for the incoming Biden administration, and the senior defense official leading the transition is a Trump loyalist who started at the Pentagon just two weeks ago after a leadership purge.

Though he has not yet conceded, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday evening that he was allowing the start of the transition process, permitting General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy to make certain resources and services available to the incoming administration.

Pentagon personnel have made contact with the Biden-Harris transition team and are "prepared to provide post-election services and support in a professional, orderly, and efficient manner that is befitting of the public's expectation of the Department and our commitment to national security," Sue Gough, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement Monday night.

Gough told Insider on Tuesday that Kash Patel, the chief of staff to the secretary of defense, would be leading the Pentagon transition, confirming a report from CNN.

Patel is widely considered a Trump loyalist, and he was installed at the Pentagon after the departure of a handful of the department's civilian leaders that began earlier this month with the termination of Trump's defense secretary.


On November 9, Trump abruptly fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, replacing him with Chris Miller, an outsider and the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

The next day, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Joseph Kernan, respectively the top policy official and the top intel official in the department, resigned, and the empty positions were filled by Trump allies.

Esper's chief of staff, Jen Stewart, also resigned, and she was replaced by Patel, a former member of the National Security Council and a former Capitol Hill staffer who worked to discredit the Russia investigation and appeared connected to the Ukraine scandal at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

Stewart was expected to lead the transition before her resignation, and now Patel is taking on those responsibilities.

There are questions about the degree of cooperation the Biden transition team will receive given Patel's history, but there are other issues, such as experience.


The Pentagon oversees an annual budget of roughly $700 billion and has 2.8 million troops and civilians, making it America's largest employer.

David Lapan, a former Pentagon spokesman with decades of military service, previously told Insider the people moved into the Pentagon seemed largely unqualified or underqualified for the positions they were taking over, a problem for a number of reasons, one of which is the transition.

In the aftermath of the Pentagon purge, Lapan said, "The individuals being installed do not have the level of experience their predecessors did to assist with the transition. At the point that the Trump administration finally lets a transition take place, the incoming Biden folks are going to be meeting with people that have been on the job for a week or two weeks."

"How much help is that going to be?" he said, telling Insider that the transition process was going to be "hampered because you will have new people that don't have that experience."