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James Roche

James Gerard Roche (born December 16, 1939) was the 20th Secretary of the Air Force, serving from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2005. Prior to serving as secretary, Roche served in the United States Navy for 23 years, and as an executive with Northrop Grumman.


He was born in Brooklyn, New York.[1] Roche's previous military service spanned 23 years in the United States Navy, retiring with the rank of Captain in 1983. As a naval officer, his assignments included Principal Deputy Director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff; Senior Professional Staff Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and Assistant Director for the Defense Department's Office of Net Assessment. He commanded USS Buchanan, a guided missile destroyer, and was awarded the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for the Navy's most improved combat unit in the Pacific in 1974.

Prior to this appointment, Secretary Roche held several executive positions with Northrop Grumman Corp., including Corporate Vice President and President, Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector. Prior to joining Northrop Grumman in 1984, he was Democratic Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Secretary of the Air Force

Secretary Roche served as a member of the Secretary of Defense's Policy Board and was a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Roche was awarded various campaign ribbons and military medals. Roche was also cited for ethics violations regarding the Air Force's decision to lease KC-767 tanker aircraft.[2] However, nothing came of Schmitz's accusations. The Secretary of Defense saw no reason to go further. (Source: James G. Roche, 20 October 2012) Schmitz later left the Pentagon under his own ethics cloud as Senator Grassley pursued him.


Roche at a Pentagon briefing.

  • 1960 Bachelor of Science degree in language, literature and philosophy, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
  • 1966 Master of Science degree with distinction in operations research, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
  • 1972 Doctorate degree in business administration, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 2002 Honorary Doctorate, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • 2003 Honorary Doctorate, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Sparkill, New York

Career chronology

  • 1960–1983, commissioned United States Navy officer, retiring with the rank of captain
  • 1983–1984, Democratic Staff Director, Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, D.C.
  • 1984–1989, Vice President and Director, Analysis Center, Northrop Grumman Corp., Washington, D.C.
  • 1989–1991, Vice President and Special Assistant to the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California
  • 1991–1992, Vice President of Advanced Development and Planning, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California
  • 1992–1996, Chief Advanced Development, Planning, and Public Affairs Officer, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California
  • 1996–2001, Corporate Vice President and President, Electronic Sensors & Systems Sector, Northrop Grumman Corp., Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2001–2005, Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.

Awards and honors


  1. [1]
  2. Smith, R. Jeffrey (February 10, 2005). "Roche Cited for 2 Ethics Violations". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
Military offices
Preceded by
F. Whitten Peters
United States Secretary of the Air Force
Succeeded by
Peter B. Teets

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