President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his replacement for former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, who led the defense policy shop since April 2021.
Derek Chollet, who currently serves as the counselor at the State Department, was tapped by Biden after Kahl announced he would go back to teaching at Stanford University at the start of this school year.
“It has been the greatest honor to serve the American people with [Secretary Antony Blinken] and the dedicated [State Department] team,” Chollet wrote in a tweet. “I am humbled by the opportunity to return to [the Department of Defense] and work with [Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin] on our nation’s security. I look forward to working with the Senate on my confirmation.”
Chollet’s nomination, however, comes as Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has placed holds on all uniformed and civilian Pentagon nominees over the department’s abortion policy for service members who reside in states where the procedure is restricted. Tuberville has been steadfast in his opposition, blocking more than 250 military nominations.
Kahl announced his departure in May and leaves the Pentagon policy shop after crafting the administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and dealing with a rising China. His own confirmation process hit some road bumps along the way, including during his confirmation hearing, when he apologized for remarks he made about Republican lawmakers on social media during his time in the private sector. He was also criticized for his work on the Iran nuclear agreement.
Before his time at the State Department, Chollet served at the Pentagon as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. He also worked as the executive vice president of the German Marshall Fund.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.