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United States Deputy Secretary of Defense

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Title: United States Deputy Secretary of Defense  
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Subject: United States Department of Defense, United States Secretary of Defense, United States Secretary of the Air Force, Robert O. Work, William J. Lynn III
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United States Deputy Secretary of Defense

Deputy Secretary of Defense
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Defense
Robert O. Work

since May 1, 2014
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Style Mister Deputy Secretary
The Honorable
(formal address in writing)
Reports to Secretary of Defense
Appointer The President
with the advice and consent of the Senate
Term length No fixed term
Inaugural holder Stephen Early
Formation 1949
(several dates, see article)
Succession 1st in SecDef succession
Deputy Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense
Salary Level II of the Executive Schedule

The Deputy Secretary of Defense (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, must be a civilian, at least seven years removed from service as a commissioned officer on active-duty at the date of appointment.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense position is currently held by Robert O. Work.


  • History 1
  • Responsibilities 2
  • List of Deputy Secretaries of Defense 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
  • External links 6


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.

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.


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. 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, command and control issues, 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 Depauty 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 Stephen Early 2 May 1949
10 August 1949
9 August 1949 [1]
30 September 1950 [2]
516 Louis A. Johnson
George Marshall
Harry S. Truman
2 Robert A. Lovett 4 October 1950 16 September 1951 316 George Marshall
3 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 3 May 1954 4 August 1955 458
6 Reuben B. Robertson, Jr. 5 August 1955 25 April 1957 629
7 Donald A. Quarles 1 May 1957 8 May 1959 737 Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
8 Thomas S. Gates 8 June 1959 1 December 1959 176 Neil H. McElroy
9 James H. Douglas, Jr. 11 December 1959 24 January 1961 410 Thomas S. Gates
Robert McNamara
10 Roswell Gilpatric 24 January 1961 20 January 1964 1091 Robert McNamara John F. Kennedy
11 Cyrus Vance 28 January 1964 30 June 1967 1249 Lyndon B. Johnson
12 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 23 February 1972 29 January 1973 341
15 William P. Clements, Jr. 30 January 1973 20 January 1977 1451 Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
17 Charles W. Duncan, Jr. 31 January 1977 26 July 1979 906 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
18 W. Graham Claytor, Jr. 24 August 1979 16 January 1981 511
19 Frank Carlucci 4 February 1981 31 December 1982 695 Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
20 W. Paul Thayer 12 January 1983 4 January 1984 357
21 William Howard Taft IV 3 February 1984 22 April 1989 1905 Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
22 Donald J. Atwood Jr. 24 April 1989 20 January 1993 1367 Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
23 William J. Perry 5 March 1993 3 February 1994 335 Les Aspin Bill Clinton
24 John M. Deutch 11 March 1994 10 May 1995 425 William J. Perry
25 John P. White 22 June 1995 15 July 1997 754 William J. Perry
William Cohen
26 John J. Hamre 29 July 1997 31 March 2000 976 William Cohen
27 Rudy de Leon 31 March 2000 1 March 2001 335 William Cohen
Donald Rumsfeld
28 Paul Wolfowitz 2 March 2001 13 May 2005 1533 Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush
29 Gordon R. England 13 May 2005
4 January 2006
4 January 2006[3]
11 February 2009
Donald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
30 William J. Lynn III 12 February 2009 5 October 2011 965 Robert Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
31 Ashton B. Carter 6 October 2011 3 December 2013 789 Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Acting Christine Fox 3 December 2013 1 May 2014 149 Chuck Hagel
32 Robert O. Work 1 May 2014 Incumbent 269 Chuck Hagel

See also


  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "".
  • 10 U.S.C. § 132. Deputy Secretary of Defense, accessed on 2010-07-22.
  • Department of Defense Key Officials 1947–2004, Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, pp. 11–13; available online
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense position profile at Prunes Online
  • 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work bio at [1]


  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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