United States Deputy Secretary of Defense


United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense Seal.svg
Seal of the Department
Flag of the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense.svg
Flag of the Deputy Secretary
David L. Norquist – Deputy Secretary of Defense (cropped).jpg
David Norquist

since July 31, 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]

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 current deputy secretary of defense is David Norquist, effective July 31, 2019.[4]

President Joe Biden has nominated Kathleen Hicks to be Deputy Secretary of Defense. Hicks formerly served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces and Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She would be the first woman to be confirmed to that role.[5]


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 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.jpg 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.jpg Robert A. Lovett October 4, 1950 September 16, 1951 316 George Marshall
3 WilliamCFoster.jpg William Chapman Foster September 24, 1951 January 20, 1953 484 Robert A. Lovett
4 Roger-M-Kyes-DepSecDef.jpg 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.jpg Reuben B. Robertson Jr. August 5, 1955 April 25, 1957 629
7 Donald A. Quarles.jpg Donald A. Quarles May 1, 1957 May 8, 1959 737 Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
8 Thomas Gates official DoD photo.jpg Thomas S. Gates June 8, 1959 December 1, 1959 176 Neil H. McElroy
9 James H. Douglas Jr. (cropped).jpg James H. Douglas Jr. December 11, 1959 January 24, 1961 410 Thomas S. Gates
Robert McNamara
10 Roswell Gilpatric.PNG Roswell Gilpatric January 24, 1961 January 20, 1964 1091 Robert McNamara John F. Kennedy
11 CyrusVanceSoS.jpg 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.jpg David Packard January 24, 1969 December 13, 1971 1053 Melvin R. Laird Richard Nixon
14 Kenneth-Rush-1977.jpg Kenneth Rush February 23, 1972 January 29, 1973 341
15 Bill Clements.jpg Bill Clements January 30, 1973 January 20, 1977 1451 Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
16 Robert F. Ellsworth.jpg Robert Ellsworth December 23, 1975[7] January 10, 1977[7] 384 Donald Rumsfeld Gerald Ford
17 Secretary Duncan (cropped).jpg Charles Duncan Jr. January 31, 1977 July 26, 1979 906 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
18 W. Graham Claytor 1984.jpg W. Graham Claytor Jr. August 24, 1979 January 16, 1981 511
19 Frank Carlucci.jpg Frank Carlucci February 4, 1981 December 31, 1982 695 Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
20 W-Paul-Thayer-portrait.jpg W. Paul Thayer January 12, 1983 January 4, 1984 357
21 William Howard Taft IV, Deptuty Secretary of Defense, official portrait (cropped).jpg William Howard Taft IV February 3, 1984 April 22, 1989 1905 Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
22 Donald J. Atwood, Jr.jpg Donald J. Atwood Jr. April 24, 1989 January 20, 1993 1367 Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
23 William Perry official DoD photo.jpg 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).jpg 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).jpg John Hamre July 29, 1997 March 31, 2000 976 William Cohen
27 Rudy de Leon, official military photo, 1997 (cropped).jpg Rudy de Leon March 31, 2000[8] March 1, 2001[8] 335 William Cohen
Donald Rumsfeld
28 Paul Wolfowitz (cropped).jpg Paul Wolfowitz March 2, 2001[9] May 13, 2005[9] 1533 Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush
29 Gordon England portrait (cropped).jpg 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).jpg 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).jpg Ash Carter October 6, 2011[9] December 4, 2013[9] 789 Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Acting Christine Fox (cropped).jpg Christine Fox December 5, 2013[9] May 1, 2014[9] 149 Chuck Hagel
32 Robert O. Work DoD photo (cropped).jpg Robert O. Work May 1, 2014 July 14, 2017 1170 Chuck Hagel
Ash Carter
Jim Mattis
33 Patrick M. Shanahan official portrait (cropped).jpg Patrick M. Shanahan July 19, 2017 June 23, 2019[10] 704 Jim Mattis
Himself (Acting)
Donald Trump
Acting David L. Norquist official portrait (cropped).jpg David Norquist January 1, 2019 July 23, 2019 203 Patrick M. Shanahan (Acting)
Mark Esper (Acting)
Richard V. Spencer (Acting)
Acting Richard V. Spencer official photo (cropped).jpg Richard V. Spencer July 23, 2019 July 31, 2019 8 Mark Esper
34 David L. Norquist – Deputy Secretary of Defense (cropped).jpg David Norquist July 31, 2019 Incumbent 544 Mark Esper

Lloyd Austin

35* Kathleen Hicks.jpg Kathleen Hicks Nominee 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



  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. ^ "Deputy Secretary of Defense". US Dept of Defense. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  5. ^ Seligman, Lara. "Kathleen Hicks is Biden's pick to be first female deputy Defense secretary". POLITICO. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  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.
  10. ^ "Acting Secretary of Defense will Resign as Deputy Secretary of Defense". United States Department of Defense. June 18, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.


  • Department of Defense Directive 5100.1: Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components (PDF). Department of Defense Directive. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense. December 21, 2010.
  • Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2015 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office. 2015.
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense position profile at Prunes Online

External links

  • defense.gov