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Biden nominates Hicks first female deputy secretary of defense

If Kathleen Hicks is confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as deputy defense secretary. File Photo courtesy of the Biden transition team
If Kathleen Hicks is confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as deputy defense secretary. File Photo courtesy of the Biden transition team

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday appointed or nominated several officials to the Defense Department and White House staff, including what would potentially be the highest-ranking female Pentagon official in U.S. history.

The transition team announced that Biden nominated Kathleen Hicks as deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as undersecretary of defense for policy.

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If confirmed, Hicks would be the first woman to serve as deputy secretary for the Pentagon. She would serve under former four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, whom Biden nominated to head the Pentagon earlier this month.

"Dr. Kath Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl have the broad experience and crisis-tested judgment necessary to help tackle the litany of challenges we face today, and all those we may confront tomorrow," Biden said. "They will be trusted partners to me, the vice president-elect, and Secretary-designate [Lloyd] Austin -- as well as our dedicated civilian and military team -- as we work to restore responsible American leadership on the world stage."

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Hicks currently serves as senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She has served as an adviser to Biden and leads the transition's defense review team.

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During the Obama administration, she was deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces, and was a career official in the Pentagon for more than a decade.

Kahl is currently a co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a professor of political science at Stanford University. He was Biden's national security adviser during the Obama administration.

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The transition team also announced new White House staffers, including Zephranie Buetow, Kaitlyn Hobbs Demers, Christopher Garcia, Ashley Jones, Alicia Molt-West, Angela Ramirez, Dana Shubat, Lee Slater and Chris Slevin in the Office of Legislative Affairs; Cynthia Bernstein and Josh Hsu in the Office of the Vice President; Karen Andre, Jamie Citron, Corina Cortez, Matt Dannenberg, Dani Durante, Stacy Eichner, Danielle Okai, Katie Petrelius, Jacob Sztraicher, Rachel Wallace, Allison Wong and Thomas Zimmerman in the Presidential Personnel Office; Jessica Hertz and Michael Hochman in the Office of the Staff Secretary; and Stephen Goepfert and Ashley Williams in Oval Office Operations.

With Wednesday's announcement, the transition team says it's now named more than 100 White House staffers. The team said that of those appointments, 61% were women, 54% people of color, 11% LGBTQ, nearly 20% first-generation Americans and nearly 40% have children at home. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders also account for more than twice their national population.

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"To meet the unprecedented challenges facing the American people, we must build an administration that reflects the very best of our country," Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said.

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"These remarkable public servants have the knowledge and expertise to hit the ground running on day one. And I look forward to working with them to get this virus under control, safely and responsibly reopen our economy and our schools, and build back our country in a way that lifts up all Americans."

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