Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has tapped a Marine Corps general to replace the military assistant he fired last month.
Brig Gen. Eric Smith, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, has been filling as Carter’s top military aide and has been asked to remain in the post, according to Pentagon officials. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the personnel move has not been publicly announced.
Carter fired Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis in early November after learning of allegations of sexual misconduct, the New York Times reported.
Two years ago, Smith had replaced Lewis in another job: senior military assistant to Carter when he was deputy defense secretary. But the situation was far different: Lewis was deploying to Afghanistan.
A graduate of Texas A&M, Smith fought in Operation Desert Storm and deployed to Iraq twice between 2003 and 2006. He also commanded Marines during a one-year deployment before becoming Carter’s aide in May 2013.
Smith has been the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South for just five months. He returns to the Pentagon as Carter is working to push through a myriad of institutional reforms during President Barack Obama’s final 14 months in the White House. The military in also finalizing its 2017 budget proposal, which will be submitted to Congress in February.