President Trump on Tuesday tapped Army Secretary Mark T. Esper to lead the Pentagon at least temporarily after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan abruptly withdrew his name from consideration to be the next permanent chief, saying the confirmation process is proving too hard for his family.
Trump on Tuesday said Mark Esper, his current Army secretary, would lead the Defense Department on an acting basis.
Trump also told reporters that he did not ask Shanahan to withdraw from consideration to be defense secretary.
Mr Shanahan was thrust into the role in an acting capacity in January, after retired General James Mattis abruptly resigned over policy differences with Mr Trump.
Although Trump has named his replacement, it comes at a time of turbulence for the US's engagement with the Middle East.
Earlier on Tuesday, it was claimed that the FBI was investigating a 2010 incident which saw both Mr Shanahan and his ex-wife Kimberly accuse one another of assault.
The Washington Post reported a gruesome incident involving Shanahan's teenage son allegedly hitting his mother, Shanahan's ex-wife, with a baseball bat, leaving her unconscious in a pool of blood.
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According to police reports, authorities were called to the couple's home on the night of August 28, 2010.
In noting Esper's move, Trump added, "I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!" Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority.
The Pentagon has announced another 1,000 troops are to be sent to the region, while United States officials say they would launch a war if necessary to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons - something Tehran insists it is not doing.
Later, Shanahan met Esper to begin transition planning. He said it's "most likely" he will nominate Esper for the job "pretty soon". Esper is a former Army infantry officer who spent time as a Defense Department official in the first Bush administration before working for most of the past decade as a defense lobbyist. "It's appalling, and it shows the chaos in this administration", he told reporters.
Mr Trump had previously voiced his intention to nominate Mr Shanahan to the post, leading to many questions about who his next choice will be.
Speaking on the senate floor earlier, Mr Schumer criticised the administration's lack of transparency on Iran, saying the White House "has an obligation to explain to the American people exactly what is happening and why" as U.S. troops are once again sent to the Middle East.
In Shanahan's tenure at the department he's had to deal with a wide array of worldwide hot spots, ranging from missile launches by North Korea to the sudden shift of military ships and aircraft to the Middle East to deal with potential threats from Iran.