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Biden nominates Obama official Christine Wormuth to be first woman Army secretary

Christine Wormuth. (Department of Defense photo/Released)
April 13, 2021

President Joe Biden has nominated Christine Wormuth, former undersecretary of defense for policy under President Barack Obama, to serve as the Secretary of the Army. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as the top civilian leader in the U.S. Army.

The White House announced the nomination in a Monday press release.

Wormuth was appointed to serve as the deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans, and force development in August 2012 and then to serve as the undersecretary of defense for policy in June of 2014, where she served until June of 2016. Wormuth has also served as the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center and a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation.

Wormuth teaches as an adjunct professor in Georgetown University’s graduate program in security studies and led the Biden-Harris Defense Agency Review Team in January. Wormuth has received twice received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, “Christine is a true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation’s security. “

“As the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Christine advanced the department’s counter-ISIS campaign and the rebalance to Asia, and her deep expertise will be critical in addressing and deterring today’s global threats, including the pacing challenge from China and nation-state threats emanating from Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” Austin continued. “I have no doubt that, if confirmed, she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honor and integrity as the Secretary of the Army.” 

Politico reported that as undersecretary of defense for policy, Wormuth faced backlash for a $500 million program to train Syrian fighters. As then-commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Austin also promoted the program to train Syrian fighters and faced backlash for it alongside Wormuth.

If confirmed, Wormuth will be the first woman to serve as the Secretary of the Army.

Sheila Widnall became the first woman to serve as a secretary of the Air Force in 1993 and the first woman to serve as the civilian leader of any U.S. military branch. Susan Livingstone became the first woman to serve as an acting secretary of the Navy in 2003, but no woman has served as a Senate-confirmed secretary of the Navy. No woman has ever served as either an acting or Senate-confirmed secretary of the Army.

On Monday, Biden also nominated former California Democrat Congressman Gil Cisneros to serve as the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Biden also nominated Susanna Blume, a former Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), to serve as the director of cost assessment and program evaluation at the Department of Defense.