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Here’s who’s in charge of the Pentagon now that Biden is President

January 20, 2021

Dozens of Department of Defense leadership roles are being filled by individuals in acting or performing-the-duties-of capacities after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday.

Secretary of Defense

Trump’s Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist is now serving as Acting Defense Secretary. Norquist became the 34th Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 31, 2019, according to the Department of Defense website.

Prior to his role as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Norquist acted as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer, as well as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on budgetary and financial issues.

As Deputy Under Secretary of Defense in the Office of the Comptroller from 2002-2006, he received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Secretary of the Army

After Ryan McCarthy resigned as Army Secretary Wednesday, John Whitley, head of Army financial management, became acting secretary. Whitley is a temporary placement until the position is filled by Biden’s new administration.

Whitley had served in the Trump administration since 2018, and most recently headed the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation department.

Secretary of the Navy

Thomas Harker, who served as the Department of the Navy’s chief civilian financial official, accepted the position of acting Navy secretary. Harker has been the assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller since 2018.

Secretary of the Air Force

The new acting Air Force secretary is John Roth, who worked as the Undersecretary of Defense and Chief Financial Officer, as well as a principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense.

“It is a privilege to serve Airmen and Guardians as the Acting Secretary of the Air Force,” Roth said, according to the United States Air Force website. “Protecting the nation is a solemn responsibility; one that the U.S. Air and Space Forces execute daily without fail. I look forward to working side-by-side with Gen. (Charles Q. Brown, Jr.) and Gen. (John W.) Raymond to ensure our Airmen and Guardians have the training and resources required to meet national security requirements and keep America safe.”

“I’m eager to continue the momentum Secretary Barrett and these two great military leaders put into motion as we work together to accelerate change for our Air Force and continue building America’s Space Force,” he said.

Other Roles

Under Secretary of the Air Force, Under Secretary of the Army, and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller roles are listed as vacant as of Wednesday afternoon.

Several high profile positions, such as National Security Agency Director, remain filled by Trump administration officials. NSA Director is filled by Gen. Paul Nakasone, who was confirmed to the role in April 2018.


Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States at noon on Wednesday, immediately calling for unity after taking his oath of office.

“With unity, we can do great things – important things. We can right wrongs, we can put people to work in good jobs, we can teach our children in safe schools, we can overcome the deadly virus, we can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make healthcare secure for all, we can deliver racial justice, and we can make America once again the leading force of good in the world,” Biden said.