Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash
Eric Chewning, who serves as chief of staff to Secretary off Defense Mark Esper, has announced that he will be stepping down at the end of JAN 2019. Chewning further disclosed that he has accepted a new job in the private sector — following a notable similar pattern prevalent in a series of other high profile personnel departures at the Pentagon.
A Pentagon spokesperson responded to queries pertaining to Chewning’s resignation, stating that his departure was “a personal decision and is not related to current events,” further saying, “He’s served for 21⁄2 years and is taking time to be with his family and return to the private sector.” However, the timing of Chewning’s resignation raises a few eyebrows — due to the rising tensions in Iran. Fox News has reportedly confirmed that Chewning’s departure does not relate in any way to the current conflict between the United States and Iran. Eric Chewning is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and decorated combat veteran. Chewning previously worked as a partner at McKinsey & Co before joining the Trump administration.
According to a statement from Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah, Chewning’s replacement is said to be Jen Stewart, who currently serves as the top Republican staffer on the House Armed Services Committee. Stewart has previously served as the national security advisor to Speakers of the House Paul Ryan and John Boehner, respectively. Stewart has also worked as a senior advisor to USMC General Joseph F. Dunford Jr, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chewning’s departure comes during a pronounced high-turnover cycle of key leadership at the Pentagon, with several other high-profile departures also taking place, such as the director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Mark Esper praised Eric Chewning’s enthusiastic contributions, stating “In an incredibly demanding job, Eric has been a source of calm and tireless work. He will be missed by all. We wish him all the best upon his return to the private sector,”
Esper also expressed optimism and confidence in anticipation of Stewart’s imminent replacement of Chewning as well. “Her [Jen Stewart] deep expertise on national security issues will be a great addition to our team as we continue implementing the National Defense Strategy,” Esper replied when asked about Jen Stewart’s role in her new position.