Pentagon Experiencing Vacancies in Top R&D Offices

by JBullock

Justin Bullock, FISM News


The weapon acquisition, sustainment, and development offices at the Pentagon are facing significant vacancies in the first year of the Biden administration. These offices constitute 58 Senate approved officials and so far only six individuals have been appointed. The Biden administration has nominated an additional 20 officials to fill some of the remaining offices but these have not yet be confirmed by the Senate. In addition, another 27 positions do not have a nominee yet at all.

In the midst of all of this, the acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, Stacy Cummings, is leaving the Pentagon in order to accept a position with NATO. To make matters worse, Cummings nominated replacement, Michael Brown, has voluntarily withdrawn from consideration for the position due to an ongoing investigation into his current office at the Department of Defense, known as the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). There has been alleged ethical misconduct in the hiring processes and compensation packages for the DIU which Brown has denied, but the investigation was enough.

While most weapon acquisition, sustainment, and development is handled by the various branches of the military, the Pentagon performs a vital function as the central coordinating hub. This has resulted in some experts expressing concern over national security, particularly maintaining America’s edge in weapons systems and technology. Such strategic advantages will be increasingly important as tensions with Iran and China continue to heighten.

The Biden White House has blamed Senate Republicans for delaying the nomination and confirmation process. In addition, the White House has referenced the substantial nomination and confirmation delays that were widespread in the first year of the previous Trump administration. Critics acknowledge that Trump’s White House was also slow in its first year with respect to the nomination and confirmation process, but have indicated that this should not be the norm. Critics have also pointed out that with the Democrats slim Senate majority, they could break ties in any stalemate.

Many national security experts are becoming anxious as they see the Biden administration failing to secure the personnel necessary to maintain America’s national security edge in military prowess specifically with regard to the research, development, and acquisition of new weapons systems and technologies.