It wouldn’t be a small one, that’s for sure.
Under orders from the big boss to welcome the transition team from President-elect Trump with model efficiency and military precision, the armed services and civilian officials have prepared office space, briefing books and get-acquainted guides.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is traveling, but he directed his chief of staff to stay home so he could be at the Pentagon in case anyone from Team Trump shows up.
But so far, the phone hasn’t rung.
“As of this moment, there’s not been any contact from the president-elect’s transition team,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. “We stand ready to assist the president-elect’s transition team with a smooth and orderly transition in the interest of national security and for our country.”
Carter said Monday he’s not worried about the no-shows.
“I don’t know when they’ll come. That’s entirely up to them,” Carter said. “They’ll arrive when they’re ready to arrive. But we’ll be ready for them when they do.”
Just two thoughts here.
The Department of Defense is a huge monster of an organization that doesn’t speed up, slow down, or change direction without a lot screaming and splashing on the part of someone. And Defense is not monolithic. Each service has its own personality and priorities. Rarely do the service interests coincide and even more rarely do they coincide with the priorities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Trump engaged in a lot of major bloviating on how he’s going to make things better for the military. In order to make that happen he needs to get people in place to hit the ground running.
Either Trump and his folks have grossly underestimated the complexity of taking control of the Defense Department or they don’t see Defense as a high priority and have chosen to spend their time preparing to take over more hostile domestic agencies like EPA and Justice. If the latter is the case, we shouldn’t be surprised to see Ash Carter asked to stay on for a while.