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The United Statesmarker Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the head of the U.S.marker Department of Defensemarker (DoD), concerned with the armed services and military matters. This position roughly corresponds to Minister of defense in other countries. The role of the Secretary of Defense is to be the principal defense policy advisor to the President and is responsible for the formulation of general defense policy related to all matters of direct and primary concern to the DoD, and for the execution of approved policy. The Secretary is appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate, and is a member of the Cabinet. By statute ( ) the secretary must be a civilian who has not served in the active component of the armed forces for at least seven years. The Secretary of Defense is sixth in the presidential line of succession. The Secretary of Defense earns a salary of $191,300 per year.

History

The position was created in 1947 when the Navy, Army, and newly created Air Force were merged into the new National Military Establishment. In the same massive reorganization, the Secretary of War was replaced by the Secretary of the Army and, along with the Secretary of the Navy and the new Secretary of the Air Force, became non-Cabinet positions placed under the Secretary of Defense. In 1949, the National Military Establishment was renamed the Department of Defense, which remains the current name of the department.
Standard of the Secretary of Defense


Organization

In the U.S. Armed Forces, the Secretary of Defense is often referred to as SecDef. The Secretary of Defense and the President together constitute the National Command Authorities (NCA), which has sole authority to launch strategic nuclear weapons. All nuclear weapons are governed by this dual-authority - both must concur before a strategic nuclear strike may be ordered.

The Secretary of Defense heads the United States Office of the Secretary of Defense and is assisted by a Deputy Secretary and five Under Secretaries in the fields of Acquisition, Technology & Logistics; Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer; Intelligence; Personnel & Readiness; and Policy. All of these positions require Senate confirmation.

The Secretary of Defense also supervises the six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of the ten Unified Combatant Commands.

Along with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense is generally regarded as one of the Big Four important cabinet officials.

List of Secretaries of Defense

# Picture Name State of residence Term of Office President served under
Start End
1 James Vincent Forrestal Minnesotamarker September 19, 1947 March 19, 1949 Harry S. Truman
2 Louis Arthur Johnson Wisconsinmarker March 28, 1949 September 19, 1950
3 George Catlett Marshall, Jr. Georgiamarker September 19, 1950 September 19, 1951
4 Robert Abercrombie Lovett New Yorkmarker September 19, 1951 January 19, 1953
5 Charles Erwin Wilson Alaskamarker January 19, 1953 October 8, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
6 Neil Hosler McElroy Ohiomarker October 9, 1957 December 1, 1959
7 Thomas Sovereign Gates Pennsylvaniamarker December 2, 1959 January 20, 1961
8 Robert Strange McNamara Michiganmarker January 21, 1961 February 29, 1968 John F. Kennedy,
Lyndon B.

Johnson
9 Clark McAdams Clifford Kansasmarker March 1, 1968 January 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
10 Melvin Robert Laird Wisconsinmarker January 22, 1969 January 29, 1973 Richard Nixon
11 Elliot Lee Richardson Massachusettsmarker January 30, 1973 May 24, 1973
12 James Rodney Schlesinger Virginiamarker July 2, 1973 November 19, 1975 Richard Nixon,
Gerald Ford
13 Donald Henry Rumsfeld Illinoismarker November 20, 1975 January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
14 Harold Brown Californiamarker January 21, 1977 January 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
15 Caspar Willard Weinberger Californiamarker January 21, 1981 November 23, 1987 Ronald Reagan
16 Frank Charles Carlucci III Pennsylvaniamarker November 23, 1987 January 20, 1989
(Acting) William Howard Taft IV Virginiamarker January 20, 1989 March 20, 1989 George H. W. Bush
17 Richard Bruce Cheney Wyomingmarker March 21, 1989 January 20, 1993
18 Leslie Aspin, Jr. Wisconsinmarker January 21, 1993 February 3, 1994 Bill Clinton
19 William James Perry Californiamarker February 3, 1994 January 24, 1997
20 William Sebastian Cohen Mainemarker January 24, 1997 January 20, 2001
21 Donald Henry Rumsfeld Illinoismarker January 20, 2001 December 18, 2006 George W. Bush
22 Robert Michael Gates Texasmarker December 18, 2006 Incumbent George W. Bush,
Barack Obama


Line of succession

In an Executive Order of December 22, 2005, President George W. Bush modified the line of succession regarding who would act as Secretary of Defense in the event of a vacancy or incapacitation as follows:
  1. Deputy Secretary of Defense
  2. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
  3. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  4. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
  5. Secretary of the Army
  6. Secretary of the Air Force
  7. Secretary of the Navy
  8. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
  9. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness


Living former Secretaries of Defense



Footnotes

  1. http://www.dod.mil/odam/omp/pubs/GuideBook/DoD.htm#Secretary%20of%20Defense
  2. George Marshall was legislatively waived by Congress; he had only been a civilian for five years before his appointment in 1950. See Defenselink bio, retrieved 11/15/2008.
  3. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O63-NationalCommandAuthoritis.html


References



External links




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