President Joe Biden’s candidate for Pentagon policy chief, Derek Chollet, is raising concerns by Senate Republicans who are wary that he is more concerned about “culture-war issues and climate change” instead of military readiness. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Republicans are expressing little confidence in Chollet who they say did not adequately address the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan or show strength against Iranian aggression.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) explained the security risk some believe Chollet would bring to America under his leadership. Ernst told the Free Beacon, “Mr. Chollet has and will continue to push this same appeasement strategy, which will only embolden Iranian aggression […] Under his watch, the administration allowed an Iranian spy to be hired by our State Department and work in our Pentagon, likely allowing the regime access to highly sensitive information. During my questioning, Chollet even defended the process that allowed this spy to be hired. This is a serious threat to national security, and her clearance should be suspended immediately, not defended.”
Several Republicans have expressed their concerns with Chollet in addition to Ernst’s points by noting his failure to address the Biden administration’s failures in not just Afghanistan, but in “Ukraine, and elsewhere.” Chollet was a part of the State Department as a foreign policy adviser during the Afghanistan withdrawal. In response to Republicans, Chollet said that “errors were ‘made over that 20-year period’ of intervention.”
At last week’s hearing, Chollet was questioned about the Biden administration’s effort urging the Pentagon to focus on non-military issues, such as climate change and gender pronouns.
Chollet was also called out for his past comments on racism in the military. According to the Free Beacon, Chollet once claimed that the “Army in particular is a pretty bubba-oriented system,” a term which is a “stereotypical nickname of southern white males” according to Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO). Chollet responded to Republicans stating that he was trying to express the “importance of having diversity and leadership throughout the armed forces.”
Still, among the most concerning responses from Chollet is his refusal to state whether or not he believes military readiness and preparedness is more important for the Pentagon to focus on when compared to its fight against climate change.