Biden Nominates Female Generals Who Pentagon Feared Trump Would Reject
President Joe Biden has nominated two top female generals for promotion following fears that they wouldn’t be considered under the Trump administration.
Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army were both considered ready for promotion last autumn, when the Pentagon’s most senior leaders agreed that they should be given elite, four-star commands.
Despite being worthy of the roles, Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, Trump’s joint chiefs of staff, feared that the recommendations would be overlooked by Donald Trump, who was in power at the time.
The leaders feared that rather than promote two women, Trump’s administration would give the roles to its own candidates before the Republican left office.
Per The New York Times, they anticipated that ‘any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil once their nominations reached the White House.’
In an effort to make sure Van Ovost and Richardson got the promotions they deserved, the Pentagon officials decided to hold back their recommendations until after the November elections with the hope that should Biden win, he would be more supportive of their choices.
The plan paid off, as this weekend Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that Van Ovost and Richardson have been nominated by Biden for four-star commands, pending Senate approval.
Richardson was nominated to run the US Southern Command in Florida, while Gen. Van Ovost was nominated to run the US Transportation Command.
Speaking about the two Generals in an interview reported by The Times in February, Esper said:
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 the Department of Defense was playing politics.
This was not the case. They were the best qualified. We were doing the right thing.
Christopher C. Miller, former Acting Secretary of Defense, denied that the nominations were delayed due to Trump’s opinions towards female candidates, commenting: ‘It was about timing considerations, not that they were women.’
Some former Trump administration officials claimed that the Senate was unlikely to have time to consider any year-end nominations, so the Pentagon decided to submit their names after the new Congress took office in January.
General Milley is expected to have still recommended the two women had Trump been re-elected, but both Milley and Esper believed the personnel choices faced a smoother selection process with Biden in control.
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