The sudden firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper "to some large extent" throws the system into turmoil, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said.
"This really is, at least at this minute, a shockwave through the Pentagon. Everybody knew Esper was on the outs with the President, but there was this sense, if you will, that he could make it through the end of the administration," Starr told CNN's Brianna Keilar.
Starr said there are a number of things at the Pentagon that are "exceptionally critical" like President Trump's insistence of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by Christmas, despite military commanders telling the President that it's too optimistic due to a high level of violence. The same goes for troops in Syria, Iraq and special forces across Africa.
"What will happen with the troops? Is the President simply going to issue an edict, he wants everybody to come home? That would throw things into significant disarray because the US military wants to have an enduring presence overseas, extend US influence with allies and keep a sharp watch on adversaries," Starr explained.
Esper was also scheduled to travel to Europe next week to talk about troop withdrawal from Germany and a revised US military presence on the continent, now it's unclear if that will happen with the new acting secretary of defense, Starr said.
Starr also noted that the firing of Esper leaves Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the "hot seat."
"Milley's now the guy the President will ultimately turn to for military advice and will he be able to convince the President, you know, not to have a period of turmoil in national security" approximately 70 days out from inauguration?
CNN's Barbara Starr reports: