DOD’s top special operations civilian adviser steps down

Mike Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, low intensity conflict, will step down from his position at the end of the month, Foreign Policy reports.

Defense Undersecretary for Policy Jim Miller announced the move at a town hall-style meeting recently. Sheehan has been in his current role — held two iterations ago by current Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Mike Vickers — since 2011. There is no word from the Pentagon on why Sheehan is leaving or who will replace him.

Since assuming his role, Sheehan has served as the defense secretary’s main civilian adviser on special operations policy. His office also oversees counternarcotics and humanitarian assistance programs for the Defense Department.


Sheehan has 30-plus years in public service: military stints in Panama, El Salvador, Korea, Somalia and Haiti; White House National Security Council stints for both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and a State Department stint as counterterrorism coordinator. Sheehan later became the New York City Police Department’s deputy commissioner of counterterrorism.

Because of his NYPD connection, Foreign Policy speculates Sheehan could be positioned to replace current NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who may be nearing the end of his tenure.

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