Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder 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.
“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.
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.
CNN has reached out to the office of the secretary of defense for comment.