Former White House Chief of Staff Is Now a Navy Ensign

It's official: Reince Priebus, former Republican National Committee chairman and then chief of staff for President Donald Trump, is a commissioned officer in the Navy.

Priebus swore into the Navy on Monday morning in a ceremony presided over by Vice President Mike Pence and attended by a cadre of Wisconsin lawmakers. Priebus is a native of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

News of the unconventional career pivot was first reported last year by The Washington Post. Priebus, now 47, was selected for a competitive direct-commission position as a Navy human resource officer, the outlet reported. Priebus required an age waiver to take the job, as the upper age limit for officers without a waiver is 42.

The Navy offers direct commissions that bypass conventional entry-level training in a number of skilled, high-demand job fields, including public affairs, aerospace engineering, and information warfare, among others. While some of these positions allow individuals to enter the Navy at a more senior rank, Priebus will begin his career as an ensign, the lowest officer paygrade.

A Navy Reserve Force spokesman, Cmdr. Douglas Gabos told Military.com that Priebus will be attached to the Navy Operational Support Center in Washington, D.C.

“He has yet to receive an official assignment,” Gabos said. “In the near future, he will attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, Rhode Island where all newly commissioned Navy Reserve Officers receive an introduction to military structure, the history of Navy traditions and customs, the military legal system, military etiquette and more.”

Since Priebus resigned as White House chief of staff in July 2017, he has become president and chief strategist at the Michael Best & Friedrich LLP law firm in Washington, D.C. He has also joined a speaker's bureau.

Priebus was congratulated via Twitter by another direct-commissioned Navy Reserve officer who served in the White House: Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary. Spicer continued to serve as a Reserve public affairs officer for the Navy throughout his brief White House tenure.

Asked via Twitter whether he could now give Priebus orders, Spicer, a Navy Reserve commander, responded, “Not orders but I get a salute :).”

The Washington Post reported that Priebus, who was reportedly among just four individuals selected from among more than 40 candidates, was moved to serve in the Navy in part after meeting the surviving family members of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens. Owens, a SEAL, was killed during a raid in Yemen in January 2017.

“It was an honor and privilege to attend @Reince‘s naval commissioning ceremony this morning,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, tweeted. “Congratulations and thank you for your service, Ensign Priebus!!!”

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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