President-elect Biden Announces Key Nominees for Department of Defense

These crisis-tested patriots will work with Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin to keep us safe and secure and ensure our defense policies are accountable to the American people.

WASHINGTON – Today, President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination of Dr. Kathleen Hicks as the Deputy Secretary of Defense and Dr. Colin Kahl as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Kathleen Hicks and Colin Kahl are respected and trusted advisors to the president-elect with decades of combined experience in national security and keeping Americans safe at the highest levels of government, including within the Department of Defense.

Dr. Kathleen Hicks

They will be partners to Secretary of Defense-designate Lloyd Austin to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s defense strategy. They know the Pentagon inside and out and are well-positioned to take on the full sweep of challenges facing our armed forces, including:

  • Keeping our country safe and secure
  • Playing a key role in executing the logistics associated with COVID-19 vaccine distribution
  • Restoring our alliances
  • Supporting and equipping our service members and caring for them and their families
  • Addressing the accelerating security threat posed by the climate crisis
  • Modernizing our armed forces and preparing for the conflicts of the future and winning the strategic competition for the 21st century

 “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.” Said President-elect Joe Biden

“Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl are dedicated public servants who will be strong civilian voices at the Defense Department, and they have the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running on day one.” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Dr. Colin Kah

“Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl are public servants to their core — and they have spent their distinguished careers advancing the safety and security of our nation. They share my strong belief that we need empowered civilian voices serving alongside military leaders at the Department of Defense to ensure we are always accountable to the American people.” Said Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin

During the Obama-Biden Administration, she served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces and was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She was a career civil servant in the Pentagon for more than a decade, where she rose through the ranks from Presidential Management Intern to the Senior Executive Service.

She is the recipient of distinguished service awards from three Secretaries of Defense and a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and received the DOD Senior Professional Women’s Association Excellence in Leadership Award. 

Dr. Hicks is a Donald Marron Scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, and earned a master’s degree and PhD from the University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively.

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