At 3:04 p.m. on Monday, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer became the third acting defense secretary since January. That’s when President Trump formally nominated Spencer’s predecessor, three-weeks-on-the-job Mark Esper, to become defense secretary proper.
Spencer’s short walk from one E-Ring office to another belied an immense jump in responsibility, from a service secretary in charge of manning and equipping a pair of service branches to a practitioner of global strategy and the second link in the wartime chain of command. How long will he keep the job? No one knows.
It’s the latest move in a bizarre game of musical chairs playing out at the Pentagon, which now has vacancies at 18 top political positions. And that game could continue well into the summer.