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Christine H. Fox, acting Deputy Secretary of Defense

Christine H. Fox, acting Deputy Secretary of Defense (Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that President Obama has appointed Christine Fox to become the Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense. When she assumes the role Dec. 5, she will become the highest-ranking female to ever serve in the Defense Department.

Until recently, Fox served as the DOD Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation. In that role, she was heavily involved in the department’s recent Strategic Choices and Management Review, known informally as the “skimmer,” which lays out the strategic implications of different military budget options.

The DOD stressed the desire for personnel continuity as a key factor in Fox’s appointment.

“She will be able to help me shape our priorities from Day 1 because she knows the intricacies of the department’s budget, programs and global operations better than anyone,” Hagel said in the announcement.

“This decision also enables the senior management team remaining in place to continue their critical leadership of the military services and DoD components,” said a senior defense official.

Fox will be taking over a high-profile role in the national security community at a time when President Obama has been criticized for not appointing more women to senior-level positions in the government.

Michele Flournoy, the former Under Secretary for Policy, was widely considered to be in the running to be the next Secretary of Defense after Leon Panetta announced that he would step down early this year. She would have been the first female Secretary of Defense in American history. Obama ultimately tapped Hagel to be the next leader of the department.

As a key player in the SCMR, Fox has been critical of the nation’s political leaders over the budget impasse.

“Pretending that the ongoing political stalemate that perpetuates that the sequester is not harmful is the most harmful thing we can do,” she said in a opinion piece for Defense News in September.

She has also called for curbing the growth of compensation for DOD personnel to achieve savings.

“Going where the ‘real money’ is invariably leads to compensation ... The 2000s saw substantial military pay and benefit increases leading to a compensation package that cannot be sustained under today’s budget circumstances — at least without making truly damaging (and dangerous) cuts elsewhere ... Significant savings are possible in the compensation category that could mitigate the sequester’s damage — between $50 billion and $100 billion over the next decade if riskier and more controversial [budget reform] options are included,” she said in her op-ed.

Hagel said that Fox will serve as Acting Deputy Secretary “pending the nomination and confirmation of a permanent successor to Deputy Secretary Carter.” Twitter: @JHarperStripes

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