Dec 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden taps Obama veterans Kathleen Hicks and Colin Kahl for top Pentagon roles

biden
Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden announced Wednesday he would select former Obama administration officials Kathleen Hicks and Colin Kahl to serve in top civilian roles at the Department of Defense.

The state of play: Hicks, who previously served as a deputy under secretary of defense and has remained a trusted Biden adviser, was nominated to become the first female deputy defense secretary.

  • Kahl was nominated as under secretary of defense for policy. He previously served as deputy assistant to President Obama and national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden.

The big picture: Hicks and Kahl combined have decades of experience and deep ties in the Pentagon. Their selections come amid tensions between the Biden transition team and Pentagon leadership, which has allegedly limited defense briefings.

  • "They will be trusted partners to me, the vice president-elect, and Secretary-designate Austin — as well as our dedicated civilian and military team — as we work to restore responsible American leadership on the world stage," Biden said in a statement.
  • "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," Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin added.

Their nominations also continue the trend of Biden bringing his most trusted allies into his administration — many of whom served during the Obama years.

Go deeper