Pentagon officials delayed promotions for female generals out of fear of former President Donald Trump’s reaction.
According to a New York Times report, then-Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worried that the Trump administration would replace General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lieutenant General Laura J. Richardson of the Army with their own candidates before leaving office. They said that they suspected any candidates who weren’t white men would have their nominations scuttled.
Esper and Milley agreed that they would “hold back” their recommendations until after the 2020 general election, betting that then-candidate Joe Biden would win.
“They were chosen because they were the best officers for the jobs, and I didn’t want their promotions derailed because someone in the Trump White House saw that I recommended them or thought D.O.D. was playing politics,” Esper told The Times. “This was not the case. They were the best qualified. We were doing the right thing.”
Esper’s successor, Lloyd Austin, and Milley are expected to send the delayed recommendations to the White House, where officials are expected to endorse them and submit them to the Senate for approval.
Trump terminated Esper shortly after the election after Esper opposed deploying active-duty military troops against anti-police brutality protests. Esper had written his resignation letter beforehand.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.