Thu, Jun 20, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Shanahan’s Pentagon rise upended by family past

AFP, WASHINGTON

Patrick Shanahan — a onetime Boeing engineer who spent the past two years at the Pentagon — seemed set to lead the world’s most powerful military, until a history of violent incidents in his family derailed his plans.

Shanahan, 56, on Tuesday stepped down as US acting defense secretary and withdrew his name from consideration to permanently fill the post to protect his children’s “safety and well-being.”

It was a surprising end to Shanahan’s quick rise to the top spot at the US Department of Defense in just two years.

At issue are two incidents: A 2010 altercation between Shanahan and his then-wife, Kimberley, at their home in Seattle that left him with a bloody nose and her in custody — amid claims that he also hit her.

The second involves his son, who was arrested as a teen after brutally hitting his mother with a baseball bat in 2011, Shanahan himself revealed in an interview with the Washington Post.

“Bad things can happen to good families ... and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan told the newspaper in interviews conducted late on Monday and on Tuesday.

Before joining the Pentagon, Shanahan — an engineer by training — spent 30 years at Boeing, holding management roles on multiple commercial jet programs as well as on missile defense systems.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate earned the nickname “Mr Fix-It” for having put the problem-saddled 787 Dreamliner program back on track.

Shanahan later was responsible for all US Army aviation programs with the aerospace giant — experience that undoubtedly helped smooth his way into government service.

In 2017, then-US secretary of defense Jim Mattis tapped Shanahan to help modernize the Pentagon’s procedures for its trillion-dollar acquisition program.

However, Shanahan quickly drew criticism that he had violated ethics rules with his support for Boeing as a Pentagon supplier, while denigrating its competitors, notably Lockheed Martin.

Once he was cleared of those allegations, and Mattis stepped down as secretary at the end of last year, US President Donald Trump gave the nod to the business-savvy Shanahan.

Since taking over as acting defense secretary on Jan. 1, Shanahan had maintained a low profile, notably avoiding clashes with the mercurial commander-in-chief.

He went along with Trump’s demand for more Pentagon resources to help police the US border with Mexico, and to divert billions of dollars in the budget to finance building a wall on the frontier.

Yet that put Shanahan in the line of fire on Capitol Hill, where US lawmakers were none too happy about the diversion of Pentagon funds, which could impact other military construction projects.

With his nomination pending before the US Senate, and amid questions about his lack of soldiering experience, the divorced father of three ended the process, as details of his family’s past travails re-emerged.

The FBI’s background check unearthed the troubling incidents in his family life, including the 2010 fight with his wife.

Kimberley Jordinson, as she is now known, maintained that Shanahan punched her, according to USA Today.

However, he said he “never laid a hand” on her and that her blow to his face had him “seeing stars.”

Jordinson was charged with assault — but Shanahan said he dropped the charges to protect the family.

It appears that lawmakers were not fully aware of the incident when Shanahan was confirmed as deputy secretary of defense and it could have become an issue at his confirmation hearing.

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