Biden to nominate first female Army secretary

Then-Defense Undersecretary for Policy Christine Wormuth testifies at a House Armed Services Full Committee hearing in 2015
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President Biden will nominate experienced Pentagon hand Christine Wormuth to be Army secretary, the White House announced Monday, setting her up to be the first woman in the job if she is confirmed.

“Christine is a true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation’s security,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “I have no doubt that, if confirmed, she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honor and integrity as the Secretary of the Army.” 

Wormuth most recently served as the head of Biden’s Pentagon transition team, a role she took over after Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks stepped aside to focus on her own confirmation process.

Wormuth is also currently the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp.

She last worked at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. From 2014 to 2016, she served as under secretary of Defense for policy, considered the department’s third most-powerful civilian job, a role that saw her “advising two secretaries of Defense on the full range of foreign policy and national security issues,” the White House said.

“As the former under secretary of Defense for policy, Christine advanced the department’s counter-ISIS campaign and the rebalance to Asia, and her deep expertise will be critical in addressing and deterring today’s global threats, including the pacing challenge from China and nation-state threats emanating from Russia, Iran and North Korea,” Austin said in his statement.

Before that, she was deputy under secretary of Defense for strategy, plans and force development from 2012 to 2014, a job that saw her lead the department’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. And from 2010 to 2012, she served on the National Security Council (NSC) directing defense policy and strategy. The White House highlighted that her NSC job saw her “helping shape the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance that began rebalancing the military toward the Indo-Pacific.”

While Wormuth would be the first female Army secretary, she would be the fourth female service secretary overall. The three others all served as head of the Air Force.

If confirmed, she would lead the Army at a time when it, much like the other military branches, is working to modernize for the era of so-called great power competition against China and Russia.

In a news release, the White House also announced Biden would nominate former Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) to be under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness and Susanna Blume to be director of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office.

Cisneros, a Navy veteran, served in the House for one term before losing reelection last year to current Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.).

The White House statement on his nomination highlights his work on the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, including participating in discussions on the status of Latinos in the Army after the death of Vanessa Guillen.

Blume currently serves as the acting director of CAPE. Before that, she was a senior fellow and director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security.

“Christine Wormuth, Gil Cisneros and Susanna Blume represent decades of combined expertise in national security and are well positioned to take on the crises we face in the current moment and prepare ourselves for the threats of tomorrow,” Austin said. “I urge the Senate to confirm them soon, so that they can take up this critical work.”

Monday’s nominations help fill out Biden’s Pentagon team after lawmakers began expressing some concern at the slow pace of nominations.

Earlier this month, the White House announced nominees for the Pentagon’s top acquisition, comptroller and intelligence posts. Prior to that, Biden had not announced a Pentagon nominee since before his inauguration when he chose Austin, Hicks and under secretary for policy nominee Colin Kahl.

Updated at 5:29 p.m.

Tags Biden nominees Defense Department Gil Cisneros Joe Biden Kathleen Hicks Lloyd Austin Pentagon

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