This profile contains Biden Administration nominations and appointments made at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Nominations and Appointments
Gen. Lloyd Austin is the Secretary of Defense. He is a retired four-star general in the United States Army, formerly serving as the 12th Commander of United States Central Command, as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and as the commanding general of United States Forces-Iraq. He has served on the Board of Directors of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Nucor Corporation, Raytheon Technologies, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Bishop Garrison is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. He formerly served as Director, National Security Outreach at Human Rights First from 2019 to 2021, as co-founder and President of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy from 2018 to 2021, as Managing Director, Policy and Advocacy and Interim Executive Director at the Truman National Security Project from 2018 to 2019, and as a Senior Consultant and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Sentinel Strategy & Policy Consulting from 2017 to 2018. He was Deputy Foreign Policy Adviser on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, and before that served in several roles at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Defense. He worked on President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, and before that was a consultant for Deloitte Consulting and an officer in the U.S. Army. He has served on the advisory board of Protect the Investigation.
In May 2021, The Intercept reported that Garrison had been appointed head of a committee to explore a pilot program that would monitor the social media of military personnel for “concerning behaviors” related to domestic extremism. According to a senior Pentagon official, as reported by The Intercept, the program will utilize a private surveillance company in order to circumvent First Amendment restrictions on government monitoring.
Kathleen Hicks is Deputy Secretary of Defense. She was the team lead for the Biden-Harris Transition Department of Defense Agency Review Team, and formerly served as Senior Vice President and Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During the Obama Administration, she served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces and Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She has served as a member of the board of trustees for The Aerospace Corporation, the board of directors for the U.S. Naval Institute, and the advisory council of National Security Action.
Colin Kahl is Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He was most recently co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and was also a strategic consultant to the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania. During the Obama Administration, Kahl served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President from October 2014 to January 2017. From February 2009 to December 2011, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. He was a professor at Georgetown University from 2007 to 2017 when not serving in government, and was a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security from 2007 to 2009 and from 2012 to 2014. From 2000 to 2007 he was a professor at the University of Minnesota. He is a former member of the advisory council at National Security Action.
Kahl was confirmed by the Senate in a 49-45 vote, and his nomination was controversial. Republicans expressed opposition to a number of his foreign policy positions, including his support for the Iran nuclear deal. Kahl was also scrutinized for past social media posts, including one in which he called the Republican Party “the party of ethnic cleansing.” Media observers have also reported on the ties between Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where Kahl had served as a senior fellow, and China’s Peking University. According to The Washington Free Beacon, the Freeman Spogli Institute oversees the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing. Peking University, according to The Washington Free Beacon, “has been linked to multiple espionage cases in the United States, [and] recently updated its charter to require loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Kelly Magsamen is Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. She formerly served as Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. During the Obama Administration, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs from 2014 to 2017, as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Planning from 2012 to 2014, as Senior Adviser for Middle East Reform from 2011 to 2012, and as National Security Council Director for Iran from 2008 to 2011. During the George W. Bush Administration, she served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State from 2005 to 2006, at the U.S. Mission to NATO in 2007, and as Special Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Counselor from 2007 to 2008. She has served on the advisory board of Foreign Policy for America, the advisory council of National Security Action, the advisory board of the Texas National Security Review, and the steering committee of The Leadership Council for Women in National Security.
Michael J. McCord is Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer. He most recently served as Director of Civil-Military Programs at the Stennis Center for Public Service. During the Obama Administration, he served as Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, and before that as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). Before that, he served as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, as a staff analyst for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, and as a cost analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He has served as an Adjunct Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, as a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration, and as a member of the advisory board of Ohio State University’s Department of Economics from 2017 to 2018. He has also served on the board of trustees of The Aerospace Corporation.
Ronald S. Moultrie is Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security. He was most recently the President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceanus Security Strategies, LLC. He formerly served as Director of Operations at the National Security Agency, in addition to former positions at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the United States Air Force.
Ely Ratner is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs. He formerly served as Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security. During the Obama Administration, he served at the U.S. Department of State in the office of Chinese and Mongolian affairs from 2011 to 2012 and as deputy national security advisor to then-Vice President Biden from 2015 to 2017. He also formerly worked in the office of then-Senator Biden, as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and as an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation.
Christine Wormuth is Secretary of the Army. She was most recently a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, and served as Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center in the RAND National Security Research Division. During the Obama Administration, she was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2014 to 2016, and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces from 2012 to 2014. From 2010 to 2012 she served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense at the National Security Council. Wormuth’s nomination was uncontroversial and she was confirmed by unanimous consent.