Defense chief appoints three senior officials

Defense chief appoints three senior officials
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Defense Secretary James Mattis continues to fill out his team at the Pentagon, announcing appointments for three more senior positions Thursday.

In a statement, the Pentagon announced Mattis has appointed Stephen Kitay to deputy assistant secretary of Defense for space policy, Sergio de la Peña to deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere affairs and Vayl Oxford to director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Kitay, a retired Air Force officer, was most recently a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, according to the Pentagon announcement. He served as the national security space expert on the multibillion dollar space budget, policies and programs. He was also responsible for guiding the oversight of Department of Defense intelligence programs.

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De la Peña, a retired Army colonel, has been the CEO of de la Peña Consulting for five years. At the consulting firm, he worked to develop business strategies to strengthen relationships between U.S. businesses and Latin American governments, according to the Pentagon.

De la Peña's other industry experience includes three years with defense contractor L3. He was also a Trump campaign surrogate and on the administration’s Pentagon transition team. 

Oxford has for five years been a national security executive policy advisor at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy-managed research laboratory. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, according to the Pentagon.