The triumvirate of Marines leading the Pentagon will stay intact longer than had been anticipated, now that Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work has jobs to finish through May.
Work, a holdover from the administration of former President Barack Obama, noted in his semi-farewell speech at the Pentagon last month that his staying meant it would be the first time Marines would hold the top three posts of the Defense Department. He meant it as a joke.
As deputy secretary, Work -- a retired Marine artillery colonel -- is serving as the top management specialist for new Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who served under Mattis as a regimental commander in the 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Work has said that he will stay on temporarily until the new team of President Donald Trump gets up to speed, but Mattis has given him jobs that will keep him at the Defense Department at least through May.
On Wednesday, Mattis directed Work to prepare by March 1 an amendment to the fiscal 2017 budget on more funding and also to work up the DoD's fiscal 2018 budget request to be submitted in May.
At the Work farewell ceremony in the Pentagon's auditorium Jan. 13, outgoing Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pinned Work with the Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the Pentagon's highest award for a civilian.
Carter relied on Work to take on the toughest management assignments -- overseeing the integration of women into all military occupational specialties and coming up with a "Third Offset Strategy" to maintain the military's technological edge.
At the Jan. 13 ceremony, Work -- the Defense Department's No. 2 civilian after Mattis -- said, "I'll be staying just a little bit longer to help with the transition until my successor is confirmed."
Now it appears that he'll be staying on a little bit longer than a little bit longer.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.