Rear Admiral John Kirby announced today that he will be leaving as Pentagon spokesman. Kirby was first appointed to the position in December 2013 by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. However, with Hagel now gone, so is Kirby. Today was Ashton Carter’s first full day as Secretary of Defense and Kirby stepped down as Carter wishes for the spokesman to be a civilian, rather than military personnel.
Kirby was highly visible in his role as Pentagon spokesman. He frequently appeared on cable news to talk about the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. In addition, Kirby won praise behind the scenes for how he would explain President Obama’s policies to the military community. Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal that Carter thinks highly of Kirby, but he wished to bring a new face in.
Kirby announced the news this morning at his daily press briefing. We have embedded the press briefing above from C-SPAN. The Associated Press’s Lolita Baldor praised Kirby at the press briefing, saying, ” Just on behalf of I think most of us here in the press corps, we just wanted to express our appreciation for all of your hard work, your professionalism, your ability to answer any and all of our questions at any time of the day or night, when we ask them either here or whenever we’re traveling. And I think we hope that you know, we wish you good luck and we hope that whoever takes this job next has the depth and breadth of your knowledge, particularly about the military, someone who can answer questions as well as you have.” CNN’s Barbara Starr echoed the sentiment as well.
Carter has not announced a successor and media reports indicate that he has not decided on one yet. Kirby has said that he will stay on as spokesman until a new one is announced.