Written by Ashton Snyder on
 March 26, 2024

Top Pentagon Official Stepping Down

A significant shift is on the horizon at the Pentagon this spring, with a key figure opting to step down.

Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker has announced her departure to focus more on her family, which has triggered a chain reaction within the department.

According to Politico, Sasha Baker, who has played a pivotal role in advising Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on crucial policy matters, is leaving her post to devote more time to her family, including her 14-month-old child. Her decision comes at a time when the Biden administration is navigating through choppy waters, struggling to confirm top civilian officials.

Baker's exit is not just about personal choices; it reflects the broader challenges faced by the Pentagon in ensuring a stable transition of leadership. Amanda Dory, the seasoned director of the Africa Center of Strategic Studies at National Defense University, is set to fill the void left by Baker. This appointment underscores the Pentagon's commitment to maintaining continuity in its policy direction, especially in critical areas such as support for Ukraine and strategies in the Middle East following recent tensions.

Amanda Dory Steps Up as Baker's Successor

Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder officially confirmed the transition, highlighting the administration's proactive approach to managing key departures. Dory's extensive experience and leadership at the National Defense University position her as a capable successor to Baker, ready to tackle the intricacies of defense policy and strategic planning.

The Pentagon's policy shop, essential for advising on international defense strategies and operational planning, is experiencing a period of flux. Several notable exits have occurred, including Colin Kahl's and potentially Mara Karlin and Melissa Dalton's.

These departures come at a time when the Pentagon faces significant hurdles in confirming nominees for top civilian roles. The undersecretary for policy, a critical position for shaping U.S. defense strategy, has seen its share of controversy, with nominee Derek Chollet facing Senate opposition.

Chollet's involvement in the Afghanistan evacuation, the Pentagon’s stance on abortion travel, and comments on various policy issues have become focal points of debate, illustrating the complex political landscape influencing defense appointments.

Senate Scrutiny Intensifies Over Pentagon Nominations

This environment of scrutiny extends to other nominations, including Melissa Dalton's for undersecretary of the Air Force, which has progressed to a full Senate vote. The Senate Armed Services Committee's actions reflect the broader challenges of securing confirmation for key defense roles amidst a backdrop of partisan disagreements and policy debates.

Such challenges underscore the importance of leadership stability and strategic continuity at the Pentagon, especially during global uncertainty and evolving security threats.

The implications of these leadership changes and nomination battles are far-reaching, affecting not only the Pentagon's internal dynamics but also the United States' position on the global stage.

As the department grapples with these transitions, the focus remains on ensuring a seamless handover of responsibilities, maintaining the momentum on critical policy initiatives, and navigating the complex confirmation process for new nominees.


The departure of Sasha Baker and the appointment of Amanda Dory represent a pivotal moment for the Pentagon, highlighting the challenges of leadership transition in a complex political and security environment. As the department continues to support key initiatives and navigate the confirmation process for new officials, the resilience and adaptability of its leadership will be crucial in maintaining strategic continuity and operational effectiveness.

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About Ashton Snyder

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