Trump to nominate former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan as secretary of defense

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
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Patrick M. Shanahan, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 11, 2019.   -   Copyright  Alex Wroblewski Getty Images file

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Patrick Shanahan as secretary of defense, the White House announced Thursday.

Shanahan, who has no military experience and is the current acting secretary, worked at Boeing for more than 30 years before Trump tapped him to serve as deputy defense secretary in 2017. He was thrust into the role of acting Pentagon chief at the start of this year, after Trump ousted Defense Secretary James Mattis.

"Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Shanahan will join more than half a dozen others who led the department without having ever served in the military. Most recently, Ashton Carter, who served as defense secretary under former President Barack Obama, did not have military experience prior to taking on the job.