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United States Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense Seal.svg
Seal of the Department[1]
Flag of the United States Secretary of Defense.svg
Christopher C. Miller.jpg
Incumbent
Christopher C. Miller

since November 9, 2020
United States Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
StyleMr. Secretary
StatusLeader and chief executive
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 113
50 U.S.C. § 401
FormationSeptember 17, 1947 (1947-09-17)
First holderJames Forrestal
SuccessionSixth[3]
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Defense
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level I[4]
Websitewww.defense.gov

The United States Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) is the head of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The role was made in 1947. The Secretary of Defense is sixth in line to the United States presidential line of succession.

List of Secretaries

Parties

      Democratic       Republican       Political Independent / Unknown

Status

     Denotes an Acting Secretary of Defense

Template:Officeholder table end

References

  1. Trask & Goldberg: p. 177.
  2. http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/UniformedServices/Flags/Pos_Colors_DoD.aspx Archived May 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, accessed on January 4, 2012.
  3. "3 U.S. Code § 19 – Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/19. 
  4. 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
  5. "James V. Forrestal – Harry S. Truman Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571293/james-v-forrestal/. 
  6. "Louis A. Johnson – Harry S. Truman Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571265/louis-a-johnson/. 
  7. "George C. Marshall – Harry S. Truman Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571266/george-c-marshall/. 
  8. "Robert A. Lovett – Harry S. Truman Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571267/robert-a-lovett/. 
  9. "Charles E. Wilson – Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571268/charles-e-wilson/. 
  10. "Neil H. McElroy -Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571269/neil-h-mcelroy/. 
  11. "Thomas S. Gates, Jr. – Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571270/thomas-s-gates-jr/. 
  12. "Robert S. McNamara – John F. Kennedy / Lyndon Johnson Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571271/robert-s-mcnamara/. 
  13. "Clark M. Gifford – Lyndon Johnson Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571292/clark-m-clifford/. 
  14. "Melvin R. Laird – Richard Nixon Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571291/melvin-r-laird/. 
  15. "Elliot L. Richardson – Richard Nixon Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571290/elliot-l-richardson/. 
  16. Cantwell, Gerald T.. Citizen Airmen: A History of the Air Force Reserve 1946–1994. DIANE Publishing. p. 252. https://books.google.com/books?id=8Y3tmhPrl44C&pg=PA252&dq=William+P.+Clements,+Jr.+Acting+Secretary+of+Defense&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=William%20P.%20Clements%2C%20Jr.%20Acting%20Secretary%20of%20Defense&f=false. "In June 1973, Representative O. C. Fisher complained to William P. Clements, Jr., acting Secretary of Defense, that the authority, responsibility, and, consequently, effectiveness of the chiefs of the various reserve components seemed to be eroding.". 
  17. "James R. Schlesinger – Richard Nixon / Gerald Ford Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571289/james-r-schlesinger/. 
  18. "Donald H. Rumsfeld – Gerald Ford Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571288/donald-h-rumsfeld/. 
  19. "Harold Brown – James Carter Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571287/harold-brown/. 
  20. "Caspar W. Weinberger – Ronald Reagan Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571286/caspar-w-weinberger/. 
  21. "Frank C. Carlucci – Ronald Reagan Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571285/frank-c-carlucci/. 
  22. "II. Secretaries of Defense". Washington Headquarters Services – Pentagon Digital Library. pp. 9. http://www.whs.mil/library/Key47-04/II.pdf. "(Deputy Secretary of Defense William H. Taft served as acting secretary of defense from 20 January 1989 until 21 March 1989)." 
  23. "Richard B. Cheney – George H.W. Bush Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571284/richard-b-cheney/. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Department of Defense Key Officials September 1947 – February 2019
  25. "Les Aspin Serves One Year As Defense Secretary". https://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/document.php?id=cqal93-1106289. 
  26. "Leslie Aspin – William J. Clinton Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571283/leslie-aspin/. 
  27. "William J. Perry – William J. Clinton Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571282/william-j-perry/. 
  28. "II. Secretaries of Defense". Washington Headquarters Services – Pentagon Digital Library. pp. 10. http://www.whs.mil/library/Key47-04/II.pdf. "Sworn in as secretary of defense on 3 February 1994 and served until 24 January 1997." 
  29. "William S. Cohen – William J. Clinton Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571281/william-s-cohen/. 
  30. "Donald H. Rumsfeld – George W. Bush Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571280/donald-h-rumsfeld/. 
  31. "Robert M. Gates – George W. Bush / Barack Obama Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571279/robert-m-gates/. 
  32. "Leon E. Panetta – Barack Obama Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571278/leon-e-panetta/. 
  33. "Chuck Hagel – Barack Obama Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571277/chuck-hagel/. 
  34. "Ashton B. Carter – Barack Obama Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571296/ashton-b-carter/. 
  35. "James N. Mattis – Donald Trump Administration". Office of the Secretary of Defense – Historical Office. http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/1059855/james-n-mattis/. 
  36. "PN583 — Patrick M. Shanahan — Department of Defense". Library of Congress. July 18, 2017. https://www.congress.gov/nomination/115th-congress/583. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Dr. Mark T. Esper – Acting Secretary of Defense". United States Department of Defense. June 24, 2019. https://dod.defense.gov/About/Biographies/Biography-View/Article/1378166/dr-mark-t-esper/. 
  38. "Letter from Acting Secretary of Defense Richard V. Spencer to Pentagon". July 15, 2019. https://news.usni.org/2019/07/15/letter-from-acting-secretary-of-defense-richard-v-spencer-to-pentagon. 
  39. [1]

Other websites

No. Secretary of Defense Took office Left office Time in office Party State of residence President
serving under
Ref
1
[[File:|75pxpx|James Forrestal]]
Forrestal, JamesJames Forrestal
(1892–1949)
September 17, 1947March 28, 1949&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0192.&&&&&0192 daysDemocratNew YorkTruman, HarryHarry S Truman (Dem)[5]
2
[[File:|75pxpx|Louis A. Johnson]]
Johnson, LouisLouis A. Johnson
(1891–1966)
March 28, 1949September 19, 1950&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0175.&&&&&0175 daysDemocratWest VirginiaTruman, HarryHarry S Truman (Dem)[6]
3
[[File:|75pxpx|George Marshall]]
Marshall, GeorgeGeorge Marshall
(1880–1959)
September 21, 1950September 12, 1951&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0356.&&&&&0356 daysIndependentPennsylvaniaTruman, HarryHarry S Truman (Dem)[7]
4
[[File:|75pxpx|Robert A. Lovett]]
Lovett, RobertRobert A. Lovett
(1895–1986)
September 17, 1951January 20, 1953&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0125.&&&&&0125 daysRepublicanNew YorkTruman, HarryHarry S Truman (Dem)[8]
5
[[File:|75pxpx|Charles Erwin Wilson]]
Wilson, CharlesCharles Erwin Wilson
(1890–1961)
January 28, 1953October 8, 1957&&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0253.&&&&&0253 daysRepublicanMichiganEisenhower, DwightDwight D. Eisenhower ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[9]
6
[[File:|75pxpx|Neil H. McElroy]]
McElroy, NeilNeil H. McElroy
(1904–1972)
October 9, 1957December 1, 1959&&&&&&&&&&&&&&02.&&&&&02 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&053.&&&&&053 daysRepublicanOhioEisenhower, DwightDwight D. Eisenhower ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[10]
7
[[File:|75pxpx|Thomas S. Gates Jr.]]
Gates, ThomasThomas S. Gates Jr.
(1906–1983)
December 2, 1959January 20, 1961&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&&049.&&&&&049 daysRepublicanPennsylvaniaEisenhower, DwightDwight D. Eisenhower ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[11]
8
[[File:|75pxpx|Robert McNamara]]
McNamara, RobertRobert McNamara
(1916–2009)
January 21, 1961February 29, 1968&&&&&&&&&&&&&&07.&&&&&07 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&039.&&&&&039 daysRepublicanMichiganKennedy, JohnJohn F. Kennedy (Dem)
Lyndon B. Johnson (Dem)
[12]
9
[[File:|75pxpx|Clark Clifford]]
Clifford, ClarkClark Clifford
(1906–1998)
March 1, 1968January 20, 1969&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0325.&&&&&0325 daysDemocratMarylandJohnson, LyndonLyndon B. Johnson (Dem)[13]
10
[[File:|75pxpx|Melvin R. Laird]]
Laird, MelvinMelvin R. Laird
(1922–2016)
January 22, 1969January 29, 1973&&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&&07.&&&&&07 daysRepublicanWisconsinNixon, RichardRichard Nixon ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[14]
11
[[File:|75pxpx|Elliot Richardson]]
Richardson, ElliotElliot Richardson
(1920–1999)
January 30, 1973May 24, 1973&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0114.&&&&&0114 daysRepublicanMassachusettsNixon, RichardRichard Nixon ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[15]
[[File:|75pxpx|Bill Clements]]
Clements, BillBill Clements
(1917–2011)
Acting
May 24, 1973July 2, 1973[source?]&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&039.&&&&&039 daysRepublicanTexasNixon, RichardRichard Nixon ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[16]
12
[[File:|75pxpx|James R. Schlesinger]]
Schlesinger, JamesJames R. Schlesinger
(1929–2014)
July 2, 1973November 19, 1975&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&&038.&&&&&038 daysRepublicanVirginiaNixon, RichardRichard Nixon ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])
Gerald Ford ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])
[17]
13
[[File:|75pxpx|Donald Rumsfeld]]
Rumsfeld, DonaldDonald Rumsfeld
(born 1932)
November 20, 1975January 20, 1977&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&&061.&&&&&061 daysRepublicanIllinoisFord, GeraldGerald Ford ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[18]
14
[[File:|75pxpx|Harold Brown]]
Brown, HaroldHarold Brown
(1927–2019)
January 20, 1977January 20, 1981&&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 daysIndependentCaliforniaCarter, JimmyJimmy Carter (Dem)[19]
15
[[File:|75pxpx|Caspar Weinberger]]
Weinberger, CasparCaspar Weinberger
(1917–2006)
January 21, 1981November 23, 1987&&&&&&&&&&&&&&06.&&&&&06 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0306.&&&&&0306 daysRepublicanCaliforniaReagan, RonaldRonald Reagan ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[20]
16
[[File:|75pxpx|Frank Carlucci]]
Carlucci, FrankFrank Carlucci
(1930–2018)
November 23, 1987January 20, 1989&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&&058.&&&&&058 daysRepublicanVirginiaReagan, RonaldRonald Reagan ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[21]
[[File:|75pxpx|William Howard Taft IV]]
Taft, WilliamWilliam Howard Taft IV
(born 1945)
Acting
January 20, 1989March 21, 1989&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&060.&&&&&060 daysRepublicanOhioBush, GeorgeGeorge H. W. Bush ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[22]
17
[[File:|75pxpx|Dick Cheney]]
Cheney, DickDick Cheney
(born 1941)
March 21, 1989January 20, 1993&&&&&&&&&&&&&&03.&&&&&03 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0305.&&&&&0305 daysRepublicanWyomingBush, GeorgeGeorge H. W. Bush ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[23]
18
[[File:|75pxpx|Leslie Aspin]]
Aspin, LesLeslie Aspin
(1938–1995)
January 20, 1993[24][25]February 3, 1994&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&&014.&&&&&014 daysDemocratWisconsinClinton, BillBill Clinton (Dem)[26]
19
[[File:|75pxpx|William Perry]]
Perry, WilliamWilliam Perry
(born 1927)
February 3, 1994January 23, 1997[27] / January 24, 1997[24][28]&&&&&&&&&&&&&&02.&&&&&02 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0356.&&&&&0356 daysIndependentPennsylvaniaClinton, BillBill Clinton (Dem).
20
[[File:|75pxpx|William Cohen]]
Cohen, WilliamWilliam Cohen
(born 1940)
January 24, 1997January 20, 2001&&&&&&&&&&&&&&03.&&&&&03 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0362.&&&&&0362 daysRepublicanMaineClinton, BillBill Clinton (Dem)[29]
21
[[File:|75pxpx|Donald Rumsfeld]]
Rumsfeld, DonaldDonald Rumsfeld
(born 1932)
January 20, 2001December 18, 2006&&&&&&&&&&&&&&05.&&&&&05 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0332.&&&&&0332 days
(7 years, 29 days total)
RepublicanIllinoisBush, George W.George W. Bush ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[30]
22
[[File:|75pxpx|Robert Gates]]
Gates, RobertRobert Gates
(born 1943)
December 18, 2006June 30, 2011[31] / July 1, 2011[24]&&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0194.&&&&&0194 daysRepublicanTexasBush, George W.George W. Bush ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])
Barack Obama (Dem)
.
23
[[File:|75pxpx|Leon Panetta]]
Panetta, LeonLeon Panetta
(born 1938)
July 1, 2011February 26, 2013&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0240.&&&&&0240 daysDemocratCaliforniaObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)[32]
24
[[File:|75pxpx|Chuck Hagel]]
Hagel, ChuckChuck Hagel
(born 1946)
February 27, 2013February 17, 2015&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0355.&&&&&0355 daysRepublicanNebraskaObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)[33]
25
[[File:|75pxpx|Ash Carter]]
Carter, AshAsh Carter
(born 1954)
February 17, 2015January 20, 2017&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0338.&&&&&0338 daysDemocratMassachusettsObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)[34][24]
26
[[File:|75pxpx|Jim Mattis]]
Mattis, JimJim Mattis
(born 1950)
January 20, 2017January 1, 2019&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0346.&&&&&0346 daysIndependentWashingtonTrump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[35]
[[File:|75pxpx|Patrick M. Shanahan]]
Shanahan, PatrickPatrick M. Shanahan
(born 1962)
Acting
January 1, 2019June 23, 2019&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0173.&&&&&0173 daysIndependentWashingtonTrump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[36]
[[File:|75pxpx|Mark Esper]]
Esper, MarkMark Esper
(born 1964)
Acting
June 24, 2019July 15, 2019&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&021.&&&&&021 daysRepublicanVirginiaTrump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[37]
[[File:|75pxpx|Richard V. Spencer]]
Esper, MarkRichard V. Spencer
(born 1954)
Acting
July 15, 2019July 23, 2019&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&&08.&&&&&08 daysIndependentWyomingTrump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[38]
27
[[File:|75pxpx|Mark Esper]]
Esper, MarkMark Esper
(born 1964)
July 23, 2019November 9, 2020&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 year, &&&&&&&&&&&&0109.&&&&&0109 daysRepublicanVirginiaTrump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[37]
[[File:|75pxpx|Christopher C. Miller]]
Miller, Christopher C.Christopher C. Miller
Acting
November 9, 2020&&&&&&&&&&&&&&00.&&&&&00 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&079.&&&&&079 daysIndependentWashington, D.C.Trump, DonaldDonald Trump ([[Republican Party (United States)|Template:Republican Party (United States)/meta/abbr]])[39]