Biden Announces New Department of Defense Nominees

December 30, 2020 by Reece Nations
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden announced Kathleen Hicks and Colin Kahl as his nominees for deputy secretary of defense and under secretary of defense for policy on Wednesday. 

If confirmed to the positions, they are slated to join Secretary of Defense-designate Lloyd Austin in the Pentagon to help advance the Biden-Harris administration’s defense strategy, according to the Biden transition team. 

“These respected, accomplished civilian leaders will help lead the Department of Defense with integrity and resolve, safeguard the lives and interests of the American people, and ensure that we fulfill our most sacred obligation: to equip and protect those who serve our country, and to care for them and their families both during and after their service,” Biden said in a statement.

“Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl have the broad experience and crisis-tested judgment necessary to help tackle the litany of challenges we face today, and all those we may confront tomorrow.” 

Biden continued, “They will be trusted partners to me, the vice president-elect, and Secretary-designate Austin — as well as our dedicated civilian and military team — as we work to restore responsible American leadership on the world stage.” 

Presently, Hicks works as senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in addition to leading the Biden-Harris transition’s defense agency review team. If confirmed, Hicks would become the first woman to serve as deputy secretary of defense. 

Hicks served as deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces during the Obama administration. In 2012, she became principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy after her confirmation by the Senate. 

“As we work to contain this pandemic and reopen our economy, we must uphold our responsibility to keep the American people safe and secure,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl are dedicated public servants who will be strong civilian voices at the Defense Department, and they have the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running on day one.” 

Harris continued, “I look forward to working with them and Secretary-designate Austin to support our service members and their families, rebuild our global alliances and partnerships, and make sure the United States is prepared to address new threats and challenges.” 

Kahl currently serves as co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation and as senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies in addition to working as a professor of Political Science at Stanford University. 

Kahl was deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and was national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden from 2014 to 2017. From 2009 to 2011, Kahl served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East. 

“Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl are public servants to their core — and they have spent their distinguished careers advancing the safety and security of our nation,” Austin said in a statement. “They share my strong belief that we need empowered civilian voices serving alongside military leaders at the Department of Defense to ensure we are always accountable to the American people. If confirmed, I look forward to working with them to take on the crises we face in the current moment and prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future.” 

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