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United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Flag of the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense.svg
Flag of the Deputy Secretary
United States Department of Defense Seal.svg
Kathleen H. Hicks.jpg
Kathleen Hicks

since February 8, 2021
United States Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Style Madam Deputy Secretary
The Honorable
Status Chief Operating Officer
Reports to Secretary of Defense
Seat The Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No Fixed Term
Constituting instrument 10 U.S.C. § 132
Formation 1949[1]
First holder Stephen Early[1]
May 2, 1949
Succession 1st in SecDef succession
Salary Executive Schedule, level II[2]

The Deputy Secretary of Defense (acronym: DEPSECDEF) is a statutory office (10 U.S.C. § 132) and the second-highest-ranking official in the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Deputy Secretary is the principal civilian deputy to the Secretary of Defense, and is appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Deputy Secretary, by statute, is designated as the DoD Chief Management Officer and must be a civilian, at least seven years removed from service as a commissioned officer on active-duty at the date of appointment.[3]

The Deputy Secretary of Defense position is currently held by Robert O. Work, a retired Marine colonel who previously served as Under Secretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2013.[4]


Public Law 81–36, 2 April 1949, originally established this position as the Under Secretary of Defense, however Public Law 81-2 16, August 10, 1949, a.k.a. the 1949 Amendments to the National Security Act of 1947, changed the title to Deputy Secretary of Defense. Former Assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Early, became the first officer holder when he was sworn in on May 2, 1949.[1] Public Law 92-596, October 27, 1972, established a Second Deputy Secretary of Defense position, with both deputies performing duties as prescribed by the Secretary of Defense. The second deputy position was not filled until December 1975. Robert F. Ellsworth, serving from December 23, 1975 until 10 January 1977, was the only one to ever hold that office. Public Law 95-140, 21 October 1977, the law establishing two Under Secretaries of Defense, abolished the second deputy position.[1]


By delegation, the Deputy Secretary of Defense has full power and authority to act for the Secretary of Defense and to exercise the powers of the Secretary of Defense on any and all matters for which the Secretary is authorized to act pursuant to statute or executive order.[1] The Deputy Secretary is first in the line of succession to the office of Secretary of Defense.

The typical role of the Deputy Secretary of Defense is to oversee the day-to-day business and lead the internal management processes of the $500 billion plus Department of Defense, that is as its chief operating officer and chief management officer; while the Secretary of Defense as the chief executive officer focuses on the big issues of the day, ongoing military operations, high-profile congressional hearings, attending meetings of the National Security Council, and directly advising the President on defense issues. The Deputy Secretary, among the office's many responsibilities, chairs the Senior Level Review Group (SLRG), before 2005 known as Defense Resources Board (DRB), which provides department-wide budgetary allocation recommendations to the Secretary and the President. Traditionally, the Deputy Secretary has been the civilian official guiding the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The Deputy Secretary of Defense chairs the Special Access Program Oversight Committee (SAPOC), which has oversight responsibilities and provides recommendations with respect to changes in status of the Department's Special Access Programs, for either the Deputy Secretary Defense or the Secretary of Defense to make.

List of Deputy Secretaries of Defense

No. Image Name Term of Office Secretaries of Defense serving under: President appointed by:
Began Ended Days of Service
1 Portrait of Stephen T. Early.jpg Stephen Early 2 May 1949
10 August 1949[1]
9 August 1949[lower-alpha 1]
30 September 1950[lower-alpha 2][1]
516 Louis A. Johnson
George Marshall
Harry S. Truman
2 Robert Lovett, photo portrait, 1951.jpg Robert A. Lovett 4 October 1950 16 September 1951 316 George Marshall
3 WilliamCFoster.jpg William Chapman Foster 24 September 1951 20 January 1953 484 Robert A. Lovett
4 Roger M. Kyes 2 February 1953 1 May 1954 453 Charles E. Wilson Dwight D. Eisenhower
5 Robert B Anderson.jpeg Robert B. Anderson 3 May 1954 4 August 1955 458
6 Reuben B. Robertson, Jr. 5 August 1955 25 April 1957 629
7 Donald A. Quarles.jpg Donald A. Quarles 1 May 1957 8 May 1959 737 Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
8 Thomas Gates official DoD photo.jpg Thomas S. Gates 8 June 1959 1 December 1959 176 Neil H. McElroy
9 James H. Douglas, Jr..jpg James H. Douglas, Jr. 11 December 1959 24 January 1961 410 Thomas S. Gates
Robert McNamara
10 Roswell Gilpatric.PNG Roswell Gilpatric 24 January 1961 20 January 1964 1091 Robert McNamara John F. Kennedy
11 CyrusVanceSoS.jpg Cyrus Vance 28 January 1964 30 June 1967 1249 Lyndon B. Johnson
12 Paul Nitze.jpeg Paul Nitze 1 July 1967 20 January 1969 569 Robert McNamara
Clark Clifford
13 David Packard 24 January 1969 13 December 1971 1053 Melvin R. Laird Richard Nixon
14 Kenneth-Rush-1977.jpg Kenneth Rush 23 February 1972 29 January 1973 341
15 Bill Clements.jpg William P. Clements, Jr. 30 January 1973 20 January 1977 1451 Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
16 Secretary duncan.jpg Charles W. Duncan, Jr. 31 January 1977 26 July 1979 906 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
17 W. Graham Claytor 1984.jpg W. Graham Claytor, Jr. 24 August 1979 16 January 1981 511
18 Frank Carlucci.jpg Frank Carlucci 4 February 1981 31 December 1982 695 Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
19 W. Paul Thayer 12 January 1983 4 January 1984 357
20 William Howard Taft IV, Deptuty Secretary of Defense, official portrait.JPEG William Howard Taft IV 3 February 1984 22 April 1989 1905 Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
21 Donald J. Atwood, Jr.jpg Donald J. Atwood Jr. 24 April 1989 20 January 1993 1367 Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
22 William Perry official DoD photo.jpg William J. Perry 5 March 1993 3 February 1994 335 Les Aspin Bill Clinton
23 John Deutch, Undersecretary of Defense, 1993 official photo.JPEG John M. Deutch 11 March 1994 10 May 1995 425 William J. Perry
24 John P. White, official DoD portrait.JPEG John P. White 22 June 1995 15 July 1997 754 William J. Perry
William Cohen
25 Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, official portrait.jpg John J. Hamre 29 July 1997 31 March 2000 976 William Cohen
26 Rudy de Leon, official military photo, 1997.jpg Rudy de Leon 31 March 2000[5] 1 March 2001[5] 335 William Cohen
Donald Rumsfeld
27 Paul Wolfowitz.jpg Paul Wolfowitz 2 March 2001[6] 13 May 2005[6] 1533 Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush
28 Gordon England portrait.jpg Gordon R. England 13 May 2005
4 January 2006[6]
3 January 2006[lower-alpha 3]
11 February 2009[6]
Donald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
29 Deputy Secretary of Defense Lynn.jpg William J. Lynn III 12 February 2009[6] 5 October 2011[6] 965 Robert Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
30 Ashton Carter DOD photo.jpg Ashton B. Carter 6 October 2011[6] 4 December 2013[6] 789 Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
31 Christine Fox.jpg Christine Fox 5 December 2013[6] 1 May 2014[6] 149 Chuck Hagel
Acting Robert O. Work DoD photo.jpg Robert O. Work (acting) 1 May 2014 Incumbent 3023 Chuck Hagel
Ashton Carter
James Mattis
33 Patrick M. Shanahan Nominated on March 16; Awaiting referral to Armed Services Committee James Mattis Donald Trump
34 David L. Norquist – Deputy Secretary of Defense (cropped).jpg David Norquist July 31, 2019 February 8, 2021 1 year, 192 days Mark Esper

Lloyd Austin

35 Kathleen H. Hicks.jpg Kathleen Hicks February 8, 2021 Incumbent 1 year, 183 days Lloyd Austin Joe Biden

See also


  1. As "Under Secretary of Defense"
  2. As "Deputy Secretary of Defense"
  3. Served as Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense




External links

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