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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

16 hours ago - Health

Biden's pick for key health role could be first transgender official confirmed by Senate

Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to serve as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, the transition team announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Levine would make history as the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Biden has pledged to assemble the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history in order to reflect the country's demographics.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."