White House Taps Former Ranger for Army Undersecretary

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, right, and Ryan McCarthy, the secretary's special assistant, look over paperwork while visiting Camp Eggers in Kabul, Dec. 8, 2009. (DoD Photo)
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, right, and Ryan McCarthy, the secretary's special assistant, look over paperwork while visiting Camp Eggers in Kabul, Dec. 8, 2009. (DoD Photo)

The White House has nominated a former member of the 75th Ranger Regiment who served in Afghanistan to become the next undersecretary of the Army.

The nomination Tuesday of Ryan McCarthy is another step forward in what has become a struggle for the Trump Administration to fill key leadership positions in the military and other agencies.

McCarthy most recently served as the vice president of sustainment for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program at Lockheed Martin Corp., where he restructured the sustainment line of business, according to a White House press release. At Lockheed, he has held a variety of roles on the F-35 program and at the corporate office.

He previously served as Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and also in the 75th Ranger Regiment during the invasion of Afghanistan, according to the release.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said he was pleased at McCarthy's nomination on Wednesday during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss the Army's fiscal 2018 proposed budget.

"My understanding is you have a history with him, and I am looking forward to that being a team that accomplishes a lot on behalf of our nation," Moran said.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, expressed his concern that the White House hasn't yet filled key leadership positions, citing posts dealing with the Pacific region such as the "under secretary of defense policy, an assistant secretary for Asia and Pacific security affairs, an assistant secretary for political military affairs for east Asian and Pacific affairs and an ambassador to Korea."

"I assume that you feel that this is all part of the team in the Pacific AOR, and we need to fill those positions as expeditiously as possible," said Schatz, speaking to acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

Milley agreed, but pointed out that the Army has a group of dedicated and professional civilians who "have stepped up to the plate and they are filling these executive positions and assistant secretary of the Army positions as is Mr. Speer, acting Secretary of the Army."

"And I will tell you that they are tremendously professional, they are doing an outstanding job on a day to day basis and we are not missing a heartbeat," Milley said.

Schatz acknowledged Milley's point, but said "there is a structural problem, however, when you have people who are not Senate confirmed and are not authorized to speak in the same way that a Senate-confirmed nominee would be on behalf of their country to another country."

"I mean that is the reason and that is the reason you have Senate confirmations and that is the reason for these assistant secretaries and ambassadorships," he said.

The White House thus far has made two unsuccessful attempts at nominating someone to the Army's top civilian post.

The first was the nomination of businessman and former Army infantry officer Vincent Viola in December. The 1977 West Point graduate withdrew his name from consideration in February, citing an inability to navigate the confirmation process and Defense Department rules concerning family businesses.

Then Mark Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, withdrew his name from consideration in May. During the review process, the decorated West Point graduate came under fire for past unfavorable comments about the LGBTQ community as well as Muslims.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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