President Donald Trump today announced his intent to nominate longtime Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan as deputy secretary of defense, the Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian spot.
Shanahan, 54, currently oversees Boeing’s manufacturing operations and supplier management functions as senior vice president for supply chain and operations. He’s the chair of the University of Washington’s Board of Regents, a UW engineering grad and a member of the Washington Roundtable.
His background also includes management roles for the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 commercial airline programs, as well as work with Boeing Missile Defense Systems.
During his time as vice president and general manager for Boeing’s Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia, he was responsible for all U.S. Army aviation, including the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the Chinook and Apache helicopters.
If the Senate confirms his nomination, Shanahan would serve under Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general who also has Washington state roots. Mattis was born in Pullman, raised in Richland and graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
Boeing was one of the first companies to feel Trump’s ire after last November’s election, when the president-elect complained via Twitter that the cost of replacing Air Force One was too high. (The true price tag has not yet been set.)
Relations turned more sanguine after a series of meetings between Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, The president called Muilenberg a “good man,” and the CEO said Trump’s plans are “headed in the right direction.”
In January, Mattis ordered a review of the Air Force One negotiations with Boeing. And this month, Muilenburg said at a Chamber of Commerce aviation conference that he’s had “very productive conversations” with Trump about “how we streamline requirements and certification, to get a better airplane, get it sooner, and to get it at lower cost.”