Biden to bring back fired Pentagon official who led anti-ISIS effort

The Pentagon announced Nov. 30 that Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller had accepted Maier’s resignation after the department disbanded his office, reflecting the success of the U.S.-led effort to defeat the terrorist group. His duties would be folded into two other offices overseeing special operations and regional policies being run by Trump political appointees, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who once called former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader.”

But defense officials and Maier’s supporters say he was forced out by the new leadership Trump installed at the Pentagon after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November.

“Chris is a nonpartisan professional and carries years of institutional knowledge on an exceedingly complex set of issues,” Brett H. McGurk, Trump’s former special envoy to the coalition to defeat the Islamic State, told The New York Times, which first reported the news, at the time of Maier’s ouster. “It really makes no sense to force out someone like that 50 days before a transition to a new administration.”

The Biden team will tap Maier as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and he will serve initially in the acting No. 1 role, the officials said. Ultimately, he will likely be nominated for the top position, they said.