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Pentagon’s spokesman Kirby is moving to a White House position

U.S. Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby participates at the Pentagon Aug. 13, 2021 in Arlington, Va. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby will move to the White House to take a senior communications role with a foreign policy focus.

The decision to shift Kirby to the White House comes after the departure last week of press secretary Jen Psaki, who was replaced by her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre. Unlike Psaki — who served as the State Department spokeswoman in President Barack Obama’s administration — Jean-Pierre doesn’t have a foreign policy background as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to dominate headlines and news briefings.

“John understands the complexities of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and he will ably represent the administration on important national security issues,” President Joe Biden said in a White House statement released Friday night.

Kirby’s title, according to the statement, will be National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

The retired Navy rear admiral has seen his profile rise since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, giving almost-daily briefings at the Pentagon, and during last year’s tumultuous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In the Obama administration, he served as Pentagon and State Department spokesman, and has also been a foreign policy analyst for CNN.

Kirby’s successor behind the podium at the Pentagon hasn’t been determined, according to a Defense Department official. But his deputy J. Todd Breasseale — a former spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. — is one likely candidate and is expected to take over the role at least temporarily.

Kirby’s move comes shortly after the departure of Emily Horne, the top spokeswoman for the National Security Council. Horne left her position on March 25 and was replaced by Adrienne Watson, the former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.


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