Former Navy Secretary O'Keefe named EADS North America chairman

But EADS North America also lost the decade-long Air Force tanker competition to rival military aircraft-maker Boeing.

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“As we make this important leadership change, I look forward to 2012 and another year of exciting growth and expansion for EADS in North America,” O’Keefe concluded.

O’Keefe was Navy secretary under former President George H.W. Bush, and served as Pentagon comptroller before that. He also brings Capitol Hill experience to the job, having been staff director of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee.

The former Defense Department official also has been a vice president in GE’s technology infrastructure division, as well as the Washington operations chief of that firm’s aviation division.

From 2005 to 2008, he was chancellor of Louisiana State University.

The announcement may have given some needed cheer to O’Keefe — it came just over 12 hours after the LSU Tigers lost the Bowl Championship Series football title game to the Crimson Tide of Alabama.

—This article was updated at 1:51 p.m.