Lloyd Austin downgrades U.S. military attache to U.K. and three other countries

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will downgrade the senior military officer assigned to the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom, America’s closest ally, and similar positions at embassies in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.

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 Aug. 8 Pentagon memorandum obtained by the website Breaking Defense.

The downgrades will allow the Defense Department to meet congressionally mandated reductions in the number of generals and admirals in the military under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017.

“While the Pentagon has shed some jobs between then and now, the deadline is approaching, and final decisions will need to be made,” Breaking Defense wrote.

The defense attache represents the Pentagon and acts as the senior military adviser to the U.S. ambassador.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Jefferson J. O’Donnell is the current senior military attache at the U.S. Embassy in London. The attache is often an unofficial backchannel to military organizations in their assigned countries. 

Mr. Austin opted against planned downgrades for attaches assigned to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The position of U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) also will remain an assignment for a general, Breaking Defense reported.

The memo states the defense attaches positions in Russia, China, India and Israel also will be filled by generals or admirals, according to Breaking Defense.

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