A US Air Force brigadier general has been named as the new Pentagon press secretary by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
CNN reported Wednesday that Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder was set to be appointed, according to an administration official and a senior defense official familiar with the matter.
“Today, I named Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder as the next Pentagon press secretary. Pat will fill a critical role, leading our efforts to provide timely, accurate information to the media, and through the media to the American people,” Austin said in a statement on Thursday.
He is expected to remain in uniform at least in the near term and CNN has spoken to several defense officials who privately acknowledge it is a potentially sensitive matter to have a uniformed officer brief the news media on policy issues.
“He will spend the next few weeks closing out his Air Force and Space Force responsibilities before assuming his new role later this month. He brings a wealth of experience, including joint and deployed assignments that will serve him well as he informs the media of our activities around the world,” Austin added in the statement.
“This would not be the first time” there has been a uniformed spokesman, a senior defense official said. Adding, if political questions arise from reporters, the Pentagon will make sure those questions are answered.
Ryder previously worked for Austin from 2013 to 2016 as his top spokesman at US Central Command when Austin was the commander.
He also has served as the top spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2017 to 2019.
Ryder will replace John Kirby, who left the Pentagon to join the White House as National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications earlier this year.
The last spokesman to brief in uniform was then-Rear Admiral Kirby under Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and then briefly under Ash Carter. Carter made it known that he wished for a civilian, as opposed to a uniformed military officer, to take on the duties as the department’s chief spokesman.