Pentagon is without a chief as US faces many global threats

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a difficult time for the Pentagon to be without a permanent U.S. defense secretary.

The Trump administration is grappling with an escalating crisis with Iran, a controversial deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the war in Afghanistan and stalled talks with North Korea over its nuclear program.

Amid all that, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down this week and the man tapped to replace him on an interim basis appears to face legal hurdles that could limit him to serving only about six more weeks. It’s an unusual level of uncertainty for a key job in the administration.

Shanahan and his planned replacement, Army Secretary Mark Esper, have been attending White House meetings, including sessions on how America should respond to Iran’s shoot-down of a U.S. drone.

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