Thursday, June 8, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomeWorldUS Defence Secy approves downgrade of 5 military offices at embassies, including...

US Defence Secy approves downgrade of 5 military offices at embassies, including Pakistan

The decision, signed by Austin on 8 August, was made in order to meet the Congressionally-mandated reductions in the number of generals and admirals in the military.

Text Size:

New Delhi: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has approved the downgrades of important military officers at the embassies of the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.

At the same time, he has reversed moves to downgrade the military officers assigned to similar roles in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, in addition to the role of the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC)

The position of Senior Defense Official/Defense Attache (SDO/DATT) will be downgraded from a general/admiral billet to, at most, a captain in the Navy or colonel in the other services, according to an 8 August Pentagon memorandum obtained by the website Breaking Defense.

“In simpler terms, the SDO/DATT serves as the top military officer liaison out of the embassy, and often works as a crucial backchannel to the militaries of their hosting nation,” the website said.

The decision was made in order to meet the Congressionally-mandated reductions in the number of generals and admirals in the military under the National Defence Authorization Act of 2017.

As per the memo obtained by Breaking Defence, Austin wrote, “Unfortunately, hard decisions must be made to allow the Department to meet the G/FO reductions mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. As such, I concur with previous decisions and approve the downgrade of the following positions to the grade of 06 or below to occur no later than December 31, 2022.”

The downgrades are concerned with the role of the SDO/DATT, who is “responsible for representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces for any and all issues related to each services’ bilateral relationship,” according to a US embassy description.

According to reports, Austin also agreed with an apparent recommendation to not downgrade the SDO/DATT officers for Russia, China, India and Israel.

Experts cited by Breaking Defence said the rank matters because “a three-star general will have a much easier time having a frank sit-down with another nation’s military leadership than a colonel would”.

Jonathan Lord from the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) did not believe the downgrades made much sense in the context of US’s global objectives, saying, “Secretary Austin May believe he has elegantly split the baby, but what he’s done is undermine the department’s ability to engage in effective defence diplomacy with five key countries.”

Before joining CNAS, Lord played a number of roles for the Pentagon and led the Middle East portfolio for the House Armed Services Committee.

He reportedly stressed the importance of UK, Egypt and Kuwait as allies and predicted that “as more cuts are revealed to general officer billets, they will come from joint roles and not the service-specific jobs that are going to be defended more tightly by top uniformed leadership,” Breaking Defence reported.

Austin has been the Defence Secretary since January 2021, and served 41 years in uniform before retiring as a four-star Army general. He is the first African American Secretary of Defence.

Also read: Not just Russian oil and gas, China is dividing Europe—money to metals


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular