Trump's national-security apparatus has a personnel problem

More than two months into his term, President Donald Trump's State Department and Pentagon remain without people in many important administrative and leadership positions.

In Foggy Bottom, where Trump ushered out several top officials on short notice after taking office, more than half of the positions on the department's leadership chart are held by acting officials or are vacant, including the counselor to the secretary of state and the deputy secretary of state.

More than 30 senior positions dedicated to specific issues or conflicts are unfilled, according to The Huffington Post.

Those vacant roles include envoys for the Six Party Talks to address North Korea's nuclear program, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as for Muslim outreach, fighting anti-Semitism, and climate change.

The president has thus far largely relied on confidants and family members for diplomatic work.

His lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, and counselor son-in-law Jared Kushner have been tasked with the Israel-Palestine conflict. Kushner also accompanied Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on a trip to Iraq and will reportedly be Trump's liaison to China, Mexico, and the Muslim community.

Trump's daughter, Ivanka, sat in on an early meeting with the Japanese prime minister and now has an office and advisory role in the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — a former Exxon executive with no government experience — appears to be Trump's only nominee for a senior position at the agency so far.

RELATED: The richest members of Trump's Cabinet

Net worths of Trump's Cabinet members
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Net worths of Trump's Cabinet members

Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior: $800,000

Before serving in Congress, Zinke, who has an MBA, started Continental Divide International in 2005, a property management and business development consulting company. He later formed a consulting company, On Point Montana, in 2009.


Mike Pence, Vice President: $800,000

Pence became an attorney in a private practice after graduating from law school before serving in Congress and then becoming the Governor of Indiana.


Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy: $2 million 

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry banks at least $100,000 from speeches and $250,000 from consulting Caterpillar. Additionally, the politician has about 20% of his portfolio invested in in oil-and gas partnerships and energy stocks, according to Forbes.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security: $4 million 

Kelly, who spent over four decades in the military, amassed the majority of his wealth from government pension. 

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

James Mattis, Secretary of Defense: $5 million

Like Kelly, the four-star general made most of his money from government pension. He also sits as a director of General Dynamics. 

REUTERS/Ed Jones/Pool

Jeff Sessions: $6 million (Attorney General)

Sessions owns more than 1,500 acres in Alabma that are worth at least $2.5 million. The rest of his fortune is in Vanguard mutual funds and municipal bonds, according to Forbes.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services: $10 million

Price ran an orthopedic clinic in Atlanta for 20 years, then taught orthopedic surgery as an assistant porfessor at his alma mater, Emory.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation: $24 million

The daughter of a shipping magnate owes the buld of her and her husband Mitch McConnell’s wealth to her family. 

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: $29 million 

The neurosurgeon earned millions from books he penned, media roles and speaking gigs. He also served as a director at Kellogg and Costco, accumulating more than $6 million in stocks. 

REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor: $45 million 

The CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has earned at least $25 million in salary and bonuses since 2000.

(Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury: $300 million 

The former Goldman Sachs partner purchased subprime mortgage lender IndyMac for $1.6 billion in 2009 with a group of billionaire investors and sold it for $3.4 billion six years later.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: $325 million

The former ExxonMobil chairman and CEO accumulated more than 2.6 million shares of company stock in his tenure and hefty pay packages, according to Forbes.


Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education: $1.25 billion

The daughter of a shipping magnate owes the bulk of her and her husband Mitch McConnell’s wealth to her family.

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce: $2.5 billion 

Known as the "King of Bankruptcy," the former banker bought bankrupt companies and later selling them for a large profit.

 REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration is reportedly considering eliminating a number of State Department positions, including several of the special envoy jobs and one of the department's deputy secretary spots. The foreign aid budget has also been targeted for significant reductions.

Trump's nominees for UN representative and ambassador to Israel have been confirmed, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has gotten nominations for four other ambassadorial positions, according to Huffington Post. But 57 countries — home to 3.9 billion people — remain without a US ambassador.

The State Department's dearth of personnel is mirrored across the Potomac River.

Thus far, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is the only senior Pentagon official to be nominated and confirmed. There are 52 positions left to fill, and their absence has not gone unnoticed on Capitol Hill.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to the White House this week, urging Trump to fill specific Defense Department positions.

Arizona Republican John McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in March that he was concerned by the "incredibly slow" speed at which DoD positions were being filled.

Part of the hold up seems to be related to the rules covering Defense Department appointments.

Trump's penchant for selecting the ultra-wealthy and senior business leaders has run afoul of rules mandating complete divestiture of business interests.

Trump's focus on selecting nominees loyal to him has also slowed the process, and, in some cases, caused tension with Mattis.

"Early on a lot of names that were floated by the Trump folks were rejected by the Mattis folks. A lot of names that Mattis floated were rejected by the Trump folks," a defense lobbyist told The Hill. "That really slowed things down and there's a been lot of friction between the two."

Trump has named 12 nominees since December, including a batch of six in mid-March. But two of those people have already pulled out.

Mattis has seen some of Trump's Pentagon picks to be "just utterly unqualified, they don't have any background" in defense policy, a defense-industry consultant told The Hill.

RELATED: Ivanka Trump in her new White House role

Ivanka Trump in her White House role
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Ivanka Trump in her White House role
Ivanka Trump takes part in a conversation with Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
ARLINGTON, VA - AUGUST 21: Ivanka Trump greets U.S. military leaders before a speech by President Donald Trump on Americas involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on August 21, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Trump was expected to announce a modest increase in troop levels in Afghanistan, the result of a growing concern by the Pentagon over setbacks on the battlefield for the Afghan military against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump (R) speaks next to Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon during a White House event with small businesses in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 1. 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, departs United Nations headquarters after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, U.S., July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: Ivanka Trump delivers remarks during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump also delivered remarks and answered questions from the audience during a town hall event with CEO's on the American business climate. Also pictured are U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) and Reed Cordish (R), from the Office of American Innovation. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump joins her father U.S. President Donald Trump as he meets with women small business owners at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump speaks during a visit to the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump (R) joins her father U.S. President Donald Trump as he holds a meeting with experts on addressing human trafficking at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Schaeffler CEO Klaus Rosenfeld , Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ivanka Trump participate in a roundtable with U.S. President Donald Trump and German and U.S. business leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L), his wife Ivanka Trump and with chief economic advisor Gary Cohn depart a news conference by U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ivanka Trump and her husband White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner attend a news conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (L to R) Senior adviser Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump enter before U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a joint press conference at the White House on February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The two answered questions from American and Japanese press. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
U.S. President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress - Washington, U.S. - 28/02/17 - Carryn Owens (L), widow of Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, reacts as Ivanka Trump, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner (R), applaud after Owens was mentioned by President Trump. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ivanka Trump stands as U.S. President Donald Trump makes a toast during the Governor's Dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump looks at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) during U.S. President Donald Trump's roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders at the White House in Washington February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump points out his daughter Ivanka Trump (2nd R), flanked by Alveda King (2nd L) and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) (R), during his remarks after visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump watch as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, DC, U.S. February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L) and his wife Ivanka Trump talk with Sara Netanyahu (front L) as she arrives for a joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Ivanka Trump watches as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe U.S. and President Donald Trump speak during their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: Claudia Mirza, co-founder and chief executive officer of Akorbi, from right, Ivanka Trump, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, Jessica Johnson, president of Johnson Security Bureau Inc., and President Trump listen during a meeting with women small business owners in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 27, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Investors on Monday further unwound trades initiated in November resting on the idea that the election of Trump and a Republican Congress meant smooth passage of an agenda that featured business-friendly tax cuts and regulatory changes. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner (L), walks with his wife Ivanka Trump to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2017. The two are travelling with US President Donald Trump to Florida. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump takes her seat at the beginning of the third working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/POOL
Ivanka Trump, Assistant to President Donald Trump, gestures to the crowd next to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner listen to U.S. President Donald Trump's public speech at Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump attend the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Ivanka Trump and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend the Women?s Entrepreneurship Finance event during the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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Assistant to the president Ivanka Trump speaks during an event celebrating National Military Appreciation Month and National Military Spouse Appreciation Day at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, visits the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Sohn/Pool
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Ivanka Trump, advisor to the President, walks after a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump and her husband, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, arrive in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 4, 2017. US President Donald Trump will spend a 17-day vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump steps from Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump talks with husband and fellow senior adviser Jared Kushner (C), and White House Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn prior to a moment of silence in remembrance of those lost in the September 11 attacks on the United States, at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ivanka Trump with her husband Jared Kushner and their children arrive at Morristown municipal airport, New Jersey, U.S., to spend a weekend with President Donald Trump in Bedminster, September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Ivanka Trump speaks during a meeting on action to end modern slavery and human trafficking on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 15: Ivanka Trump (2nd L) arrives with her husband Jared Kushner (L) at an event September 15, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. President Trump attended the event to celebrate the 70th birthday of the U.S. Air Force. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Once leaders for the specific service branches were in place, however, the process should pick up, as "The Trump people are not going to have as much interest" in the appointments, the consultant told The Hill.

Those issues notwithstanding, Trump has offered nominees at a slower pace than his predecessor. By this point in his administration, Obama had dispatched 92 nominees to the Senate, getting 37 of them confirmed. Trump has offered only 43 nominees, with just 21 getting confirmed.

Trump's budget reassessments and personnel issues are not limited to the State and Defense Departments, but Mattis, who helms the undermanned Pentagon, has stressed the joint role those agencies play in the US's presence abroad.

"If you don't fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately," Mattis told the National Security Advisory Council in 2013. "The more that we put into the State Department's diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget."

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