Pentagon & Congress

Pentagon’s top personnel official retires

The Pentagon’s top official overseeing personnel and readiness issues stepped down from the post on Friday.

Jimmy Stewart, who had served as the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness since October 2018, announced his retirement from federal service. In a statement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper praised Stewart as a “selfless individual” whose work helped the entire force.

“Jimmy, who was confirmed as the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in October 2018, has been filling the under secretary role since then, a role that is critical to the National Defense Strategy, in support of our families and readiness,” Esper said in a statement.

Esper announced that Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan will step into the acting personnel role. It is unclear if Donovan will eventually be nominated for the post full-time.

Donovan will be the fifth acting administrator to serve in the role in the last five years. Since April 2015, the office has only had one official under secretary in the post: Robert Wilkie, who served in the role for eight months, simultaneously serving as acting Veterans Affairs secretary for three months.

Stewart was a retired Air Force major general with 37 years in the active and reserve components. He was also a command pilot with over 4,700 hours of flight time across five different air frames.

Before joining the Pentagon in his latest role, Stewart served as the economic development committee chair for North Carolina’s Military Affairs Commission.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Shon Manasco will step into Donovan’s role as Under Secretary of the Air Force until a permanent replacement is named.

This marks the second high-level departure of a Pentagon official this week, following the announced exit of Randall Schriver, the department’s top Pacific policy official. Schriver, who served as assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs since Jan. 2018, is returning to private life.

-Defense News reporter Aaron Mehta contributed to this story.

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