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Pentagon’s acting policy undersecretary to step down after just 9 months

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker will resign from her post at the end of April after just nine months in the job as the top policymaker for the Pentagon.

The undersecretary of Defense for policy is the No. 3 leadership role on the civilian side of the Pentagon, a crucial job at the department while the U.S. backs Ukraine and Israel in two major wars. But Baker’s is the second resignation from the position in less than a year.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that he was “deeply grateful” for her “outstanding contributions to the department and to U.S. national security.”

“Baker was asked to step into a difficult and critical position, and she has been a pillar of strength and wisdom,” Austin said. “Under her leadership, our policy team has helped the department navigate a range of complex global challenges, including major crises in Ukraine and the Middle East.

“Her strategic acumen and steadfast commitment to our national security have helped her play a pivotal role in shaping our defense policies, tackling emerging threats, and strengthening interagency relationships and international alliances,” he added.

Amanda Dory, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the Pentagon-funded National Defense University, will take over as acting undersecretary while the Senate considers the nomination of Derek Chollet to fill the role.

Baker’s resignation comes after the previous undersecretary of Defense for policy at the Pentagon, Colin Kahl, stepped down mid-July last year to return to the private sector.

Kahl had faced resistance during his confirmation hearing in 2021 to assume the job, with Republicans questioning his support for a nuclear deal with Iran. Similarly, Chollet struggled in a September hearing amid questions about his role in the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, though President Biden remains firm in supporting him.

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