The Biden-Harris administration has again demonstrated its commitment to building a diverse and inclusive government with its latest nominations. On April 13, 2021, two women with longtime Pentagon experience were tapped to fill the top Department of Defense (DoD) positions — one to run the Army and the DoD Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office.
Recently, the president came under fire for not moving faster with nominating individuals to fill key spots, especially top Pentagon positions. Biden’s announcement of the three nominees, Christine Wormuth, Susanna Blume, and Gil Cisneros, “has spurred hope that there might be some movement on getting Senate-confirmed nominees into place as the 2022 budget battle begins to take shape,” reports Breaking Defense.
Christine Wormuth; Biden’s Nominee for Secretary of the Navy Nominee
If confirmed, Wormuth will be the first Secretary of the Army. Her previous appointment under the Obama administration was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy — she was part of the Biden transition team.
Her current job is as the International Security and Defense Policy Center director at the think tank Rand. As the undersecretary of defense for policy, her tasks primarily focused on strategy and foreign policy issues.
Thomas Spoeher, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, spoke supportively of Wormuth’s national security experience. He also mentioned she has worked in several positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Even though she is qualified to be the Secretary of the Navy, some people believed Biden would have nominated Wormuth for the Air Force secretary, where she would have been the fourth female assigned to that position.
Like nearly all of Biden’s nominees, she is extremely in national security issues. Mark Cancian, a senior advisor with the CSIS International Security Program, said, “she will bring her expertise to the Army.”
President Biden’s CAPE Nominee; Susanna Blume
For the CAPE office position, Biden nominated Blume. She currently holds the job in an “acting” capacity. During the Obama administration, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Plans.
She began performing the CAPE director’s duties on January 20. Blume is a highly-respected expert on the defense budget. She served under then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Plans.
Jamie Morin, who served as CAPE director during the Obama administration, said:
Susanna Blume is a dedicated public servant with extensive experience working with senior leaders in the Pentagon. She was one of the key players in helping turn the ‘Third Offset Strategy’ vision into programmatic reality, and clearly understands the unique decision role of CAPE for ensuring we get maximum capability out to every taxpayer dollar entrusted to the Department of Defense.
Biden’s Nominee for the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Nominee; Gil Cisneros
President Biden also announced the nomination of Navy veteran Cisneros to be the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He served on both the House Armed Services and Veteran’s Affairs committees when represented California’s 39th district. When confirmed, Cisneros will be appointed as the top civilian in charge of staff matters.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Defense News: White House nominates first female Army secretary, names CAPE, personnel nominees; by Jen Judson and Aaron Mehta
Breaking Defense: Biden Nominates Two Women To Lead DoD Modernization; by Paul McCleary
Images by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann Courtesy of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License