DefenseNews

US Defense Secretary Austin’s chief of staff to step down this summer

PARIS — Kelly Magsamen, who has served as chief of staff to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin his entire tenure, will step down at the end of June.

Austin announced the change in a statement, crediting her for “every initiative I have launched to defend our nation,” which includes work in the three areas of the world that now consume the Pentagon’s attention: the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

Magsamen’s last week has been an illustration of that split. She joined Austin for the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s largest defense conference, where he met with world leaders and in particular China’s new defense minister. Then she joined him for trips to Cambodia — where she sat beside him in meetings with the country’s leadership — and Paris, where Austin is staying during the 80th anniversary ceremony of D-Day.

Another defining part of her time in office was when Austin was hospitalized earlier this year after complications from a surgery to treat prostate cancer. Magsamen did not inform others in the Pentagon nor the U.S. government — including the president. The Pentagon has since explained the delay by saying she was also sick, and Austin took the blame for the delay, sitting for a grilling in front of the House Armed Services Committee in February.

A review of the incident ordered by Austin recommended protocol changes but didn’t result in staff discipline.

Magsamen has worked across Washington’s national security institutions, including previous stints at the State Department and the National Security Council.

“Kelly’s leadership, counsel, and selfless service made our nation safer, made the lives of our people better and more rewarding, and rendered the heavy burden of this office of mine a good bit lighter,” Austin said in the statement.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh didn’t say where Magsamen is headed, only that the chief of staff is “taking time off before she pursues other opportunities.”

Caroline Zier, Kelly’s deputy, will serve as acting chief of staff after Magsamen steps down, according to Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the department’s press secretary.


Author: Noah Robertson
Source: DefenseNews

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