Joe Biden’s transition team announced Wednesday that former Obama Pentagon official Kathleen Hicks is the President-elect’s pick to serve as deputy secretary of defense, and she would be the first woman to serve in the role if confirmed by the Senate.
The transition team also announced Colin Kahl, who served as national security adviser to Biden when he was vice president, is Biden’s nominee for under secretary of defense for policy.
“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.
The President-elect continued, “Dr. Kath 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. 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.”
Hicks and Kahl join retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden’s nominee for defense secretary who was formerly the commander of US Central Command, on the slate of defense nominees. Austin’s nomination faces a hurdle of its own: He requires a congressional waiver, given that he retired from active duty just four years ago.
Hicks served in the Obama administration, and was confirmed by the Senate in 2012 as the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy. In that role, Hicks was responsible for advising the under secretary of defense for policy and the secretary of defense on US national defense policy and strategy. Hicks also served as the deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces.
She currently leads the Biden-Harris transition’s defense agency review team, and is the senior vice president and director of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Kahl served as deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and was the national security adviser to Biden when he was vice president from 2014 to 2017. He previously served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East.
He is a strategic adviser at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, a Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a professor of political science at Stanford University, according to the Biden transition team.