White House picks nominees for key Pentagon posts

The White House has tapped Kathleen Hicks to replace James Miller as the Pentagon's principal deputy under secretary of Defense for policy, pending Senate approval, according to Monday's announcement. 

Hicks is currently the deputy under secretary of Defense for strategy, plans and forces. 

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Miller was named acting under secretary of Defense for policy after former policy chief Michèle Flournoy left the department in January. He is scheduled to step down from the post within the next few months.

Along with Hicks, the White House nominated Derek Chollet to head up the Pentagon's international security affairs office. He is currently the director for strategic planning on the National Security Council. 

Chollet will take over the position from outgoing Assistant Secretary of Defense Alex Vershbow. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Chollet will be the department's point man on all military cooperation pacts between the United States and partner countries. He will also be responsible for maintaining ties with international military organizations, such as NATO.

Prior to her arrival at DOD in 2009, Hicks worked as a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Before CSIS, she served as in the department's senior executive service until 2006, according to department records.  

While in the SES, Hicks played a critical role in assembling the Pentagon's massive Quadrennial Defense Review in 1997 and again in 2005. She also helped author the Pentagon's first-ever homeland defense and civil-support strategy. 

Before joining the NSC, Chollet was the principal deputy director on the State Department's policy planning staff. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a senior fellow at The Center for a New American Security and a non-resident fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program.

Chollet also served in a number of key State Department positions in the Clinton administration and was chief foreign policy adviser to Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) 2004 presidential campaign.