Pentagon & Congress

The Pentagon’s top two jobs are finally filled

After a whirlwind few weeks, the Defense Department has two confirmed officials in its top civilian roles, and the Navy secretary has gone back to his official duties.

Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist took his oath on Wednesday afternoon, according to a Pentagon release, following his confirmation by the Senate on Tuesday evening.

“Secretary Norquist has been sworn in and has the full authority and responsibility of the deputy secretary of defense,” spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. “Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has ceased to perform the duties of the deputy secretary of defense and is serving solely as the secretary of the Navy.”

Pentagon's top two leaders confirmed | Defense News Minute, July 31, 2019

The Senate confirmed David Norquist as Deputy Secretary of Defense, finally filling the Pentagon's top two positions.

Spencer had served as the acting defense secretary and then “performed the duties of" the deputy defense secretary in July, as the White House nominated new officials for each of those jobs.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper was sworn in on July 23, making him the first official confirmed in that role since former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in December.

Esper, previously the Army secretary, ascended to the acting defense secretary role in late June, then returned to the Army for a week in July following his nomination. The Senate voted 90-8 to confirm him.

The following day, then-Pentagon comptroller Norquist appeared for his own Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, followed a week later by a unanimous vote.

With the top two civilian officials at the Pentagon now in place, the services are waiting on a vote to confirm the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, now head of U.S. Strategic Command, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

If confirmed, he will join Army Gen. Mark Milley, who was confirmed as the chairman in an 89-1 Senate vote on Thursday, in the military’s top uniformed jobs.

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