Correction: Carrie Ricci is the nominee for Army general counsel and not Pentagon general counsel. The error was in an earlier version of this story.
WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden will nominate Douglas Bush, a former lead House Armed Services Committee staffer, as the Army’s acquisition chief, the White House announced Tuesday.
Biden will also nominate for Army general counsel Carrie Ricci, a former member of the independent review panel studying sexual assault and harassment problems at Fort Hood, Texas. Biden is tapping Ashish Vazirani, the former chief executive of the National Military Family Association, to be the Pentagon’s deputy personnel chief.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bush would become assistant Army secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics several years into the service’s ambitious modernization strategy. He has held the job on an acting basis since early in the Biden administration.
Bush helped lead congressional oversight of Army programs from behind the scenes, including a string of acquisition failures the land service has tried to move beyond. A former staffer for then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, Bush later staffed HASC’s Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee and became the full committee’s deputy staff director in 2019.
“Doug is an outstanding choice,” HASC Staff Director Paul Arcangeli said in a statement to Defense News. “The Army is already capitalizing on his experience in both the Army and his time on HASC. His leadership has been steady throughout the transition, and his keen understanding of both worlds will be critical as the Army continues to evolve its mission capabilities for the future fight. We look forward to continuing to work with him in his new capacity.”
Biden’s selections continue a process of filling out the department’s top jobs after a slow start. They also reflect his focus on selecting minority and female candidates for top jobs across the Defense Department.
Ricci, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who held jobs in a range of Army legal offices, served most recently as an associate general counsel for the Agriculture Department. She served on the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, created last year by then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. The committee’s review led to the Army putting a civilian in charge of its criminal investigations division for the first time.
The review panel was formed in the wake of violence at Fort Hood, including the death of Vanessa Guillén, whose remains were found about two months after she was killed. The heightened attention within the Pentagon on ways to address sexual assaults and other discipline problems in the military included Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s creation of a panel to study the matter.
Vazirani is a longtime management consultant who has been a principal at A2O Strategies in Washington for the last four years. If confirmed by the Senate, he would serve as deputy to Pentagon’s top personnel and readiness chief Gil Cisneros, whose office is responsible for recruiting, health and morale policies and pay issues.
With NMFA, Vazirani called on the Biden administration in its early days to better screen for food insecurity among military families and broaden their access to nutrition assistance and mental health resources, among other steps.
Joe Gould is the Congress and industry reporter at Defense News, covering defense budget and policy matters on Capitol Hill as well as industry news.