By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama yesterday announced his picks for four senior defense officials, including two who served as top Pentagon budget officials under President Bill Clinton.
Obama said he would nominate William J. Lynn III as deputy defense secretary, Robert F. Hale as undersecretary of defense-comptroller, Michèle Flournoy as undersecretary of defense for policy, and Jeh Charles Johnson as general counsel.
"I am confident that these distinguished individuals have the expertise and commitment needed," Obama said in a statement. "Together with Secretary Gates and our military, we will work to responsibly end the war in Iraq, defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban, and renew America's strength and standing in the world."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had interviewed each of the candidates and "came away impressed with their personal character and professional credentials, and recommended the president-elect hire them," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. Gates urged rapid Senate confirmation for the nominees, Morrell said.
Lynn, senior vice president of government operations for Raytheon, would run much of the Pentagon day to day if confirmed as Gates's deputy, and he would probably spearhead what Gates has said would be a new approach to acquisition. Lynn served as the Pentagon's chief budgetary and fiscal official in the job of comptroller from 1997 to 2001, and as a strategic planner from 1993 to 1997. Before that he was a staff member for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and focused on military matters. Lynn, who has a law degree from Cornell University, was previously registered as a lobbyist but deregistered in June.
Hale is executive director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers and served from 1994 to 2001 as Air Force assistant secretary for financial management. He also was head of the Congressional Budget Office's defense unit.
Flournoy, co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, a centrist national security think tank, has worked on a broad range of defense policy and international security issues.
Johnson is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, based in New York City, and previously served as general counsel for the Air Force.