Kahl to leave DOD's top policy job

By Tony Bertuca / May 17, 2023 at 3:14 PM

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl is slated to leave his post in mid-July after two years in office, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement he is grateful for Kahl’s service.

“Our department is stronger and better prepared for future security challenges because of Colin’s distinguished service,” Austin said. “Under his leadership, the department rolled out its National Defense Strategy, focusing on the pacing challenge of the People’s Republic of China, the acute threat of Russian aggression, and other dangers. And he has helped ensure steadfast U.S. support for Ukraine through billions of dollars of security assistance since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked war of choice.”

Kahl, whose planned departure was first reported by NBC News, intends to return to Stanford University where he was given a two-year leave of absence to serve at the Pentagon, according to a person familiar with his plans.

“As the two-year mark approached in April 2023, Dr. Kahl secured agreement from Stanford to extend his timeline through mid-July so that he can support the secretary of defense and the president in the run-up to the NATO Summit in Vilnius,” the person said.

Kahl was confirmed in April 2021 following a bruising confirmation battle in which Senate Republicans voted against him over what they deemed “hyper-partisan” tweets ;prior to joining the Biden administration.

Kahl’s announced exit comes amid gridlock on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has issued a blanket hold on all civilian and military nominees that would force the Senate to consider each one separately amid a crowded legislative schedule already burdened by partisan fights over the national debt, the budget and judicial nominees.

Tuberville, citing what he says is a violation of federal law, is holding the nominees over his opposition to the Pentagon’s travel policies regarding servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Austin, meanwhile, has said the hold, which is blocking nearly 200 military nominees, risks “every domain” of national security.