Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pentagon: Obama Names Choices for Key Defense Positions

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2009 -- President-elect Barack Obama today announced his choices for four key Defense Department positions: deputy defense secretary, two undersecretary positions and general counsel.

William J. Lynn III was named as Obama’s nominee for deputy defense secretary. The president-elect also announced his intention to nominate:
  • Robert F. Hale as undersecretary of defense (comptroller);

  • Michèle Flournoy as undersecretary of defense for policy; and

  • Jeh Charles Johnson as general counsel.

“I am confident that these distinguished individuals have the expertise and commitment needed to help me implement a sustainable national security strategy that combats 21st century threats and keeps the American people safe,” Obama said of the nominees.

“They share with me the utmost respect for our brave men and women in uniform, and will work day and night to support our troops, strengthen our military, and advance our capacity to carry out 21st century missions,” he said.

Obama said he recognizes the challenges ahead. “Together with [Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates and our military, we will work to responsibly end the war in Iraq, defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban and renew America’s strength and standing in the world,” he said. “I am honored that they have joined me in this mission, and I trust that they will serve the American people well.”

Gates has been “intimately involved” in the process of identifying and interviewing appropriate candidates for various vacancies throughout the department, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

Morrell said this afternoon, before Obama made his announcement, that Gates has been busy working with the transition team to identify appropriate candidates for various vacancies throughout the department and interview them personally.

“I think he feels as though … we’ve made some good progress toward identifying some very capable candidates to fill some very big jobs within the department,” Morrell said.

Lynn brings decades of experience and expertise in reforming government spending and making the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely, Obama’s transition team said in its announcement. He was the Pentagon comptroller from 1997 to 2001, serving as the department’s chief financial officer and the defense secretary’s principal advisor for all budgetary and fiscal matters.

From 1993 to 1997, Lynn oversaw all aspects of the department’s strategic planning process as director of program analysis and evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

He was awarded three Defense Department medals for distinguished public service: the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and awards from the Army, Navy and Air Force. He also received the 2000 Distinguished Federal Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants for his efforts to improve defense accounting practices.

Lynn currently serves as senior vice president of government operations and strategy at Raytheon Company.

Before entering the Defense Department in 1993, Lynn served for six years on the staff of Sen. Edward Kennedy as liaison to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also has been a senior fellow at the National Defense University, on the professional staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and served as the executive director of the Defense Organization Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, N.H., Lynn has a law degree from Cornell Law School in New York and a master’s in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in New Jersey. He is married with a daughter.

Hale, Obama’s nominee as comptroller, currently serves as executive director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers.

Hale served as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller from 1994 to 2001. In that capacity, he was responsible for the Air Force budget and all aspects of Air Force financial management. Hale also spearheaded creation of the first-ever certification program for defense financial managers.

Hale spent 12 years leading the Congressional Budget Office’s defense unit. Earlier in his career, he was an active-duty Navy officer assigned to the Center for Naval Analyses.

Hale holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from Stanford University, Calif., as well as a master’s degree from Stanford and a master's of business administration from George Washington University, D.C. He also is a fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration.

Hale has served on the Defense Business Board and recently completed service on a congressionally mandated Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care. He is a former national president of the American Society of Military Comptrollers and is a certified defense financial manager with acquisition specialty.

Flournoy, Obama’s choice for undersecretary of defense for policy, cofounded and was named president of the Center for a New American Security in January 2007. She previously was a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she worked on a broad range of defense policy and international security issues.

Previously, Flournoy was a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. There, she founded and led the university’s Quadrennial Defense Review working group, chartered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop intellectual capital in preparation for the Department of Defense’s 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review.

Before joining NDU, Flournoy was dual-hatted as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction and deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. In that capacity, she oversaw three policy offices in the Office of the Secretary of Defense: Strategy; Requirements, Plans, and Counterproliferation; and Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian Affairs.

Flournoy was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1996, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1998, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2000.

In addition to several edited volumes and reports, she has authored dozens of articles on international security issues.

Flournoy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies from Harvard University, Mass., and a Master of Letters degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University in England, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar.

Johnson, Obama’s general counsel nominee, is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, based in New York City.

An experienced trial lawyer in a successful law practice, Johnson also has demonstrated distinguished public service as a federal prosecutor and presidential appointee.

At age 47, he was elected a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. Johnson’s career as a trial lawyer began in 1989, prosecuting public corruption cases as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He served three years as a federal prosecutor.

In 1998, Johnson left his firm for 27 months when President Bill Clinton appointed him the Air Force’s general counsel. In that position, Johnson was awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.

From 2007 to 2008, Johnson served as a foreign policy advisor to Obama’s campaign.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a graduate of Morehouse College in Georgia and Columbia Law School in New York.

(Report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

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