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United States Deputy Secretary of Defense

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
US Department of Defense seal.svg
Seal of the Department
Flag of the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense.svg
Flag of the Deputy Secretary
Kathleen Hicks

since February 8, 2021
United States Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
StyleMadam Deputy Secretary
The Honorable (formal)
StatusChief Operating Officer
Reports toSecretary of Defense
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 132
First holderStephen Early[1]
May 2, 1949
Succession1st in SecDef succession
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level II[2]

The deputy secretary of defense (acronym: DepSecDef) is a statutory office (10 U.S.C. § 132) and the second-highest-ranking official in the Department of Defense of the United States of America.

The deputy secretary is the principal civilian deputy to the secretary of defense, and is appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The deputy secretary, by statute, is designated as the DoD chief management officer and must be a civilian, at least seven years removed from service as a commissioned officer on active-duty at the date of appointment.[3]

The current deputy secretary of defense is Kathleen Hicks, effective February 8, 2021. Hicks is the first woman to serve in this role.


Public Law 81–36, April 2, 1949, originally established this position as the under secretary of defense, however Public Law 81-2 16, August 10, 1949, a.k.a. the 1949 Amendments to the National Security Act of 1947, changed the title to Deputy Secretary of Defense. Former assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Early, became the first officer holder when he was sworn-in on May 2, 1949.[1]

Public Law 92-596, October 27, 1972, established a second deputy secretary of defense position, with both deputies performing duties as prescribed by the secretary of defense. The second deputy position was not filled until December 1975. Robert Ellsworth, serving from December 23, 1975, until January 10, 1977, was the only one to ever hold that office. Public Law 95-140, October 21, 1977, established two Under Secretaries of Defense and abolished the second deputy position.[1]


By delegation, the deputy secretary of defense has full power and authority to act for the secretary of defense and to exercise the powers of the secretary of defense on any and all matters for which the secretary is authorized to act pursuant to statute or executive order.[1] The deputy secretary is first in the line of succession to the secretary of defense.

The typical role of the deputy secretary of defense is to oversee the day-to-day business and lead the internal management processes of the $500-billion-plus Department of Defense budget, that is as its chief operating officer; while the secretary of defense as the chief executive officer focuses on the big issues of the day, ongoing military operations, high-profile congressional hearings, attending meetings of the National Security Council, and directly advising the president on defense issues.

Prior to February 1, 2018, the deputy secretary of defense also served as the department's chief management officer, to whom the deputy chief management officer reported, but those responsibilities were split into a new chief management officer of the Department of Defense position.[4]

The deputy secretary, among the office's many responsibilities, chairs the Senior Level Review Group (SLRG), before 2005 known as Defense Resources Board (DRB), which provides department-wide budgetary allocation recommendations to the Secretary and the President. Traditionally, the deputy secretary has been the civilian official guiding the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The deputy secretary of defense chairs the Special Access Program Oversight Committee (SAPOC), which has oversight responsibilities and provides recommendations with respect to changes in status of the Department's Special Access Programs, for either the deputy secretary defense or the secretary of defense to make.

List of deputy secretaries of defense

No. Image Name Term of office Serving under
Secretaries of Defense
Appointed by
Began Ended Time in office
Portrait of Stephen T. Early.jpg
Stephen Early May 2, 1949
August 10, 1949[1]
August 9, 1949[a]
September 30, 1950[b][1]
1 year, 151 days Louis A. Johnson
George C. Marshall
Harry S. Truman
Robert Lovett, photo portrait, 1951.jpg
Robert A. Lovett October 4, 1950 September 16, 1951 316 days George C. Marshall
William Chapman Foster September 24, 1951 January 20, 1953 1 year, 118 days Robert A. Lovett
Roger M. Kyes February 2, 1953 May 1, 1954 1 year, 88 days Charles Erwin Wilson Dwight D. Eisenhower
Robert B Anderson (cropped).jpeg
Robert B. Anderson May 3, 1954 August 4, 1955 1 year, 93 days
Reuben B. Robertson Jr. August 5, 1955 April 25, 1957 1 year, 263 days
Donald A. Quarles.jpg
Donald A. Quarles May 1, 1957 May 8, 1959 2 years, 7 days Charles Erwin Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
Thomas Gates official DoD photo.jpg
Thomas S. Gates Jr. June 8, 1959 December 1, 1959 176 days Neil H. McElroy
James H. Douglas Jr. (cropped).jpg
James H. Douglas Jr. December 11, 1959 January 24, 1961 1 year, 44 days Thomas S. Gates Jr.
Robert McNamara
Roswell Gilpatric.PNG
Roswell Gilpatric January 24, 1961 January 20, 1964 2 years, 361 days Robert McNamara John F. Kennedy
Cyrus Vance January 28, 1964 June 30, 1967 3 years, 153 days Lyndon B. Johnson
Paul Nitze.jpeg
Paul Nitze July 1, 1967 January 20, 1969 1 year, 203 days Robert McNamara
Clark Clifford
David Packard January 24, 1969 December 13, 1971 2 years, 323 days Melvin Laird Richard Nixon
Kenneth Rush February 23, 1972 January 29, 1973 341 days
Bill Clements.jpg
Bill Clements January 30, 1973 January 20, 1977 3 years, 356 days Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
Robert F. Ellsworth.jpg
Robert Ellsworth December 23, 1975[5] January 10, 1977[5] 1 year, 18 days Donald Rumsfeld Gerald Ford
Secretary Duncan (cropped).jpg
Charles Duncan Jr. January 31, 1977 July 26, 1979 2 years, 176 days Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
W. Graham Claytor 1984.jpg
W. Graham Claytor Jr. August 24, 1979 January 16, 1981 1 year, 145 days
Frank Carlucci.jpg
Frank Carlucci February 4, 1981 December 31, 1982 1 year, 330 days Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
W. Paul Thayer January 12, 1983 January 4, 1984 357 days
William Howard Taft IV, Deptuty Secretary of Defense, official portrait (cropped).jpg
William Howard Taft IV February 3, 1984 April 22, 1989 5 years, 78 days Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
Donald J. Atwood, Jr.jpg
Donald J. Atwood Jr. April 24, 1989 January 20, 1993 3 years, 271 days Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
William Perry official DoD photo.jpg
William Perry March 5, 1993 February 3, 1994 335 days Les Aspin Bill Clinton
John Deutch, Undersecretary of Defense, 1993 official photo (cropped).JPEG
John M. Deutch March 11, 1994 May 10, 1995 1 year, 60 days William Perry
John P. White, official DoD portrait (cropped).jpg
John P. White June 22, 1995 July 15, 1997 2 years, 23 days William Perry
William Cohen
Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, official portrait (cropped).jpg
John Hamre July 29, 1997 March 31, 2000 2 years, 246 days William Cohen
Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, official portrait (cropped).jpg
Rudy de Leon March 31, 2000[6] March 1, 2001[6] 335 days William Cohen
Donald Rumsfeld
Paul Wolfowitz (cropped).jpg
Paul Wolfowitz March 2, 2001[7] May 13, 2005[7] 4 years, 72 days Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush
Gordon England portrait (cropped).jpg
Gordon R. England May 13, 2005
January 4, 2006[7]
January 3, 2006[c]
February 11, 2009[7]
236 days
Donald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
Deputy Secretary of Defense Lynn (cropped).jpg
William J. Lynn III February 12, 2009[7] October 5, 2011[7] 2 years, 235 days Robert Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
Ashton Carter DOD photo (cropped).jpg
Ash Carter October 6, 2011[7] December 4, 2013[7] 2 years, 58 days Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Christine Fox (cropped).jpg
Christine Fox
December 5, 2013[7] May 1, 2014[7] 149 Chuck Hagel
Robert O. Work DoD photo (cropped).jpg
Robert O. Work May 1, 2014 July 14, 2017 3 years, 74 days Chuck Hagel
Ash Carter
Jim Mattis
Patrick M. Shanahan official portrait (cropped).jpg
Patrick M. Shanahan July 19, 2017 June 23, 2019[8] 1 year, 339 days Jim Mattis
Himself (acting)
Donald Trump
David L. Norquist official portrait (cropped).jpg
David Norquist
January 1, 2019 July 23, 2019 203 days Patrick M. Shanahan (acting)
Mark Esper (acting)
Richard V. Spencer (acting)
Richard V. Spencer official photo (cropped).jpg
Richard V. Spencer
July 23, 2019 July 31, 2019 8 days Mark Esper
David L. Norquist – Deputy Secretary of Defense (cropped).jpg
David Norquist July 31, 2019 February 8, 2021 1 year, 192 days Mark Esper

Lloyd Austin

Kathleen H. Hicks (cropped).jpg
Kathleen Hicks February 8, 2021 Incumbent 1 year, 285 days Lloyd Austin Joe Biden

See also


  1. ^ As "Under Secretary of Defense"
  2. ^ As "Deputy Secretary of Defense"
  3. ^ Served as Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 15.
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5313.
  3. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 132.
  4. ^ "Report to Congress: Restructuring the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Organization and Chief Management Officer Organization" (PDF). August 1, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 16.
  6. ^ a b Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 17.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 18.
  8. ^ "Acting Secretary of Defense will Resign as Deputy Secretary of Defense". United States Department of Defense. June 18, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.


External links

This page was last edited on 5 November 2022, at 13:34
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