WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has long been known for its gleeful acceptance of inside baseball acronyms to identify top officers and officials. So today they presented PTDODSD.
“PTDODSD” stands for “Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Defense.” That title currently belongs to David Norquist, who also is the Under Secretary of Defense/Chief Financial Officer/Comptroller. Thus in Pentagon-speak, Norquist is “double-hatted” — holding two top leadership posts simultaneously.
Norquist is the “PTDODSD” because the confirmed Deputy Defense Secretary is Patrick Shanahan. Shanahan is the Acting Defense Secretary (ASECDEF or A/SOD).
Shanahan routinely is asked by reporters if the “acting” in front of his title has an adverse impact on his ability to do the job. He says it does not and that the Pentagon continues to function well whether he and others are confirmed in the new positions or not.
The “PTDODSD” sobriquet was introduced Monday morning in a news release providing a readout of a meeting Norquist held with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre at the Pentagon.
“They met April 11 to discuss the close U.S.-Somali relationship, counter-terrorism and the AMISOM transition in Somalia” — the African Union Mission in Somalia, a regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations Security Council — the release said.
The statement was provided by the Acting Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Charles Summers Jr., — or the Acting ATSD for clarity.
Meanwhile, Congress departed Capitol Hill for its spring break leaving two key military nominations pending as the Pentagon slowly shifts to a new generation of leaders who are confirmed in their new jobs.
Among the nominations awaiting Senate approval are Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, to lead the U.S. European Command, and Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, to lead the U.S. Africa Commands.
The nominations were approved by Senate Armed Services Committee last week but got lost in the 11th-hour spring break rush in the Senate.
The transformation of top Pentagon leadership is continuing. The Pentagon announced Monday that Adm. Bill Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next chief, upon the upcoming retirement of succeeding Adm. John Richardson.
Nominations made for the new Joint Chiefs of Staff so far of Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman; Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman; Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff; Adm. Bill Moran, Navy chief of staff, and Lt. Gen. David Berger, Marine Corps Commandant.
Yet to be made are nominations for the next Air Force chief of staff and head of the National Guard.