United States Deputy Secretary of Defense

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 Patrick M. Shanahan.[4] Effective January 1, 2019, Shanahan became the Acting Secretary of Defense upon Jim Mattis's resignation from that office. While Shanahan serves in that role, he has selected David Norquist to perform the duties of Deputy Secretary of Defense, effective January 1, 2019.[5]

United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense Seal
Seal of the Department
Flag of the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Flag of the Deputy Secretary
David L. Norquist official portrait (cropped)
David Norquist

since January 2, 2019
United States Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
StyleMr. Deputy Secretary
StatusChief operating officer
Reports toSecretary of Defense
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 132
First holderStephen Early[1]
May 2, 1949
Succession1st in SecDef succession
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level II[2]


Public Law 81-36, April 2, 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 January 10, 1977, was the only one to ever hold that office. Public Law 95-140, October 21, 1977, established two Under Secretaries of Defense and 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 budget, that is as its chief operating 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.

Prior to February 1, 2018, the Deputy Secretary of Defense also served as the department's chief management officer, to whom the deputy chief management officer reported, but those responsibilities were split into a new Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense position.[6]

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 Stephen Early May 2, 1949
August 10, 1949[1]
August 9, 1949[a]
September 30, 1950[b][1]
516 Louis A. Johnson
George Marshall
Harry S. Truman
2 Robert Lovett, photo portrait, 1951 Robert A. Lovett October 4, 1950 September 16, 1951 316 George Marshall
3 WilliamCFoster William Chapman Foster September 24, 1951 January 20, 1953 484 Robert A. Lovett
4 Roger-M-Kyes-DepSecDef Roger M. Kyes February 2, 1953 May 1, 1954 453 Charles E. Wilson Dwight D. Eisenhower
5 Robert B Anderson (cropped).jpeg Robert B. Anderson May 3, 1954 August 4, 1955 458
6 Reuben-B-Robertson-Jr-DepSecDef Reuben B. Robertson Jr. August 5, 1955 April 25, 1957 629
7 Donald A. Quarles Donald A. Quarles May 1, 1957 May 8, 1959 737 Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
8 Thomas Gates official DoD photo Thomas S. Gates June 8, 1959 December 1, 1959 176 Neil H. McElroy
9 James H. Douglas Jr. (cropped) James H. Douglas Jr. December 11, 1959 January 24, 1961 410 Thomas S. Gates
Robert McNamara
10 Roswell Gilpatric Roswell Gilpatric January 24, 1961 January 20, 1964 1091 Robert McNamara John F. Kennedy
11 CyrusVanceSoS Cyrus Vance January 28, 1964 June 30, 1967 1249 Lyndon B. Johnson
12 Paul Nitze.jpeg Paul Nitze July 1, 1967 January 20, 1969 569 Robert McNamara
Clark Clifford
13 David-Packard-DepSecDef David Packard January 24, 1969 December 13, 1971 1053 Melvin R. Laird Richard Nixon
14 Kenneth-Rush-1977 Kenneth Rush February 23, 1972 January 29, 1973 341
15 Bill Clements Bill Clements January 30, 1973 January 20, 1977 1451 Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
16 Robert F. Ellsworth Robert Ellsworth December 23, 1975[7] January 10, 1977[7] 384 Donald Rumsfeld Gerald Ford
17 Secretary Duncan (cropped) Charles Duncan Jr. January 31, 1977 July 26, 1979 906 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
18 W. Graham Claytor 1984 W. Graham Claytor Jr. August 24, 1979 January 16, 1981 511
19 Frank Carlucci Frank Carlucci February 4, 1981 December 31, 1982 695 Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
20 W-Paul-Thayer-portrait W. Paul Thayer January 12, 1983 January 4, 1984 357
21 William Howard Taft IV, Deptuty Secretary of Defense, official portrait (cropped) William Howard Taft IV February 3, 1984 April 22, 1989 1905 Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
22 Donald J. Atwood, Jr Donald J. Atwood Jr. April 24, 1989 January 20, 1993 1367 Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
23 William Perry official DoD photo William J. Perry March 5, 1993 February 3, 1994 335 Les Aspin Bill Clinton
24 John Deutch, Undersecretary of Defense, 1993 official photo (cropped).JPEG John M. Deutch March 11, 1994 May 10, 1995 425 William J. Perry
25 John P. White, official DoD portrait (cropped) John P. White June 22, 1995 July 15, 1997 754 William J. Perry
William Cohen
26 Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, official portrait (cropped) John Hamre July 29, 1997 March 31, 2000 976 William Cohen
27 Rudy de Leon, official military photo, 1997 (cropped) Rudy de Leon March 31, 2000[8] March 1, 2001[8] 335 William Cohen
Donald Rumsfeld
28 Paul Wolfowitz (cropped) Paul Wolfowitz March 2, 2001[9] May 13, 2005[9] 1533 Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush
29 Gordon England portrait (cropped) Gordon R. England May 13, 2005
January 4, 2006[9]
January 3, 2006[c]
February 11, 2009[9]
Donald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
30 Deputy Secretary of Defense Lynn (cropped) William J. Lynn III February 12, 2009[9] October 5, 2011[9] 965 Robert Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
31 Ashton Carter DOD photo (cropped) Ash Carter October 6, 2011[9] December 4, 2013[9] 789 Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Acting Christine Fox (cropped) Christine Fox December 5, 2013[9] May 1, 2014[9] 149 Chuck Hagel
32 Robert O. Work DoD photo (cropped) Robert O. Work May 1, 2014 July 14, 2017 1170 Chuck Hagel
Ash Carter
Jim Mattis
33 Patrick M. Shanahan official portrait (cropped) Patrick M. Shanahan July 19, 2017 577 Jim Mattis
Himself (Acting)
Donald Trump

See also


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



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 15.
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5313.
  3. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 132.
  4. ^ "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Our Story > Meet the Team > Deputy Secretary of Defense". Defense.gov. U. S. Department of Defense. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Defense". US Dept of Defense. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Report to Congress: Restructuring the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Organization and Chief Management Officer Organization" (PDF). August 1, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 16.
  8. ^ a b Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 17.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015: p. 18.


External links

Charles Duncan Jr.

Charles William Duncan Jr. (born September 9, 1926) is an American entrepreneur, administrator, and politician best known for serving as U.S. Secretary of Energy on the Cabinet of President Jimmy Carter from 1979 to 1981. He had previously served as Carter's United States Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Iranian Revolution. Earlier, Duncan had run the family business, Duncan Coffee Company of Houston, Texas, for seven years, until the Coca-Cola Company acquired it in 1964. After seven years on the Coke board, Duncan became the corporation's president.

Christine Fox

Christine Fox most recently served as the acting United States Deputy Secretary of Defense from December 3, 2013, until Robert Work's confirmation on May 1, 2014. Until November 2013, she was the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense—one of the most senior civilian positions in the Department of Defense. She previously gained notability during her work at Naval Air Station Miramar, where she was the inspiration for the Top Gun character "Charlie", played by Kelly McGillis in the movie. In her role as acting Deputy, she became the highest-ranking woman ever to work in The Pentagon. She officially retired from the Pentagon in May 2014.In April 2018 Fox was interviewed in the documentary Do You Trust This Computer?

Clare Selgin Wolfowitz

Clare Selgin Wolfowitz (born November 1945) specializes in the field of Indonesian anthropology. She currently works at the IRIS center at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Governance Institutions Group, primarily on its projects in Indonesia and with the Programs and Policy Coordination office of USAID. She also currently serves as a Board member for Health In Harmony, a non-profit based in Portland, OR that supports environmental conservation and health projects in Indonesia.

In 1968 she married Paul Wolfowitz, who became United States Deputy Secretary of Defense (2001–2005) and subsequently President of the World Bank Group. They had met while they were studying together at Cornell University in the mid-1960s and co-residing in the Telluride House. There are conflicting reports of their marital status.She is half sister to author, playwright, and illustrator Peter Selgin and economist George Selgin.

David Norquist

David L. Norquist is an American financial management professional and government official. Norquist was nominated in March 2017 by President Trump to be Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) in the United States Department of Defense. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 25, 2017 by unanimous consent.

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Jacob Wolfowitz

Jacob Wolfowitz (March 19, 1910 – July 16, 1981) was a Polish-born American statistician and Shannon Award-winning information theorist. He was the father of former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense and World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz.

John M. Deutch

John Mark Deutch (born July 27, 1938) is an American physical chemist and civil servant. He was the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1995 and Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from May 10, 1995 until December 15, 1996. He is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serves on the boards of directors of Citigroup, Cummins, Raytheon, and Schlumberger Ltd. Deutch is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.

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Paul Nitze

Paul Henry Nitze (January 16, 1907 – October 19, 2004) was an American statesman who served as United States Deputy Secretary of Defense, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. He is best known for being the principal author of NSC 68 and the co-founder of Team B. He helped shape Cold War defense policy over the course of numerous presidential administrations.

Reuben B. Robertson Jr.

Reuben B. Robertson Jr. (June 27, 1908 – March 13, 1960) was an American businessman who served as United States Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1955 to 1957.He died on March 13, 1960, in Cincinnati, Ohio after being hit by a car.

Robert B. Claytor

Robert Buckner Claytor (February 27, 1922 – April 9, 1993) was an American railroad administrator. He became President of the Norfolk and Western Railway in 1981 and was instrumental in the merger of the Southern Railway and the Norfolk & Western in 1982. He was the first chairman and CEO of the new Norfolk Southern, and is credited with locating the headquarters of the Fortune 500 company in Norfolk, Virginia, within sight of the massive coal pier at Lambert's Point on the Elizabeth River at Hampton Roads.

Robert B. Claytor is best remembered by many railfans for reactivating Norfolk and Western's steam program, which rebuilt steam locomotives J-611 and A-1218 at the Roanoke Shops at Roanoke, Virginia, and operated excursion trips. He would occasionally take the helm as engineer with his brother, W. Graham Claytor Jr., who had been president of Southern Railway (U.S.) and later, CEO of Amtrak.

He was the son of W. Graham Claytor (1886-1971), who as vice president of Appalachian Power Company supervised construction of the dam and creation of a 4,500 acre (18 km²), 21 mile (34 km) long lake on the New River at Claytor Lake State Park in Virginia, and of Gertrude Harris Boatwright Claytor, a poet. One of his brothers, W. Graham Claytor Jr. (1912-1994), was president of the Southern Railway from 1967-1977, a United States Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy from 1977-1979 under President Jimmy Carter, an acting U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the cabinet of President Carter in 1979, and president of Amtrak from 1982 until 1993.

Robert B. Claytor died of cancer on April 9, 1993, at his home in Norfolk."The Claytor Brothers: Virginians Building America's Railroad" is a semi-permanent exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia.

Robert J. Murray

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Robert O. Work

Robert Orton Work (born January 17, 1953) is an American national security professional who served as the 32nd United States Deputy Secretary of Defense for both the Obama and Trump administrations from 2014 to 2017. Prior to that, Work was the United States Under Secretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2013, and before that served as a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps; Work retired in 2001 and worked as a civilian at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) and the George Washington University in various positions relating to military and strategic study. From 2013 to 2014, he was the CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

Roger M. Kyes

Roger Martin Kyes (March 6, 1906 – February 14, 1971), born Rogers Martin Kyes, was a General Motors executive who served as United States Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration.

W. Paul Thayer

William Paul Thayer (November 23, 1919 – May 6, 2010) was an American test pilot, flying ace, aviation executive, and United States Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Reagan Administration.

William Chapman Foster

William Chapman Foster (April 27, 1897 – October 15, 1984) was an American businessman and high-ranking government official. He served as United States Under Secretary of Commerce and United States Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Harry Truman. Later, he served as the first United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director, under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

William J. Lynn III

William J. Lynn III (born January 1, 1954) is a former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense. Before that he was Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and a lobbyist for Raytheon.

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