Senior congressional leaders expressed concerns to the defense secretary the same day Mark Mitchell, acting assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, submitted his resignation. The Lawmakers biggest concern was the “lack of progress in staffing” the Special Operations secretariat. Though it was discovered that 64 full time jobs were needed, by the end of the fiscal year 2019 only 28 positions had been filled. The focus on special operations oversight comes amid increased use of forces and growing concern about the impact of that use on their effectiveness.
Theresa Whelan, then principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations, described the situation as “essentially … eat our young” during a house hearing in 2017. “We’ve mortgaged the future in order to facilitate current operations. That has impacted readiness, and it’s also impacted development of force for the future.” Mitchell shared the same concerns, though his reasoning for departure was not immediately clear.