John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, gives a briefing in Arlington, Va., in October 2014. File photo courtesy the U.S. Department of Defense
May 20 (UPI) -- Pentagon spokesman John Kirby will join the White House in a new role as the coordinator for strategic communication for the National Security Council.
Kirby, who has been a leading voice on the U.S. response to the war in Ukraine, will serve as a senior voice for President Joe Biden's administration on interagency efforts to explain national security policy, the White House said in a statement.
He will report to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and is expected to work closely with new White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre -- who replaced Jen Psaki on Monday.
"John Kirby is uniquely qualified for this position, and I look forward to bringing his background, knowledge, and experience to the White House," Biden said.
"John understands the complexities of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and he will ably represent the Administration on important national security issues."
Kirby called Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who he has advised as the assistant to the Secretary of Defense for public affairs, a "mentor and confidant."
"I am very grateful to President Biden for his confidence in me and to Secretary Austin for his tremendous support and leadership these last 18 months," Kirby said.
"I also thank my entire team at OSD Public Affairs. When I messed up, they fixed it. When I did well, they made it so. I've never known a better team of professionals."
It was not immediately clear who would be tapped to serve as the main spokesperson for the Defense Department with Kirby's departure.
Kirby previously served as the chief spokesman for the State Department from May 2015 to January 2017 at the end of former President Barack Obama's administration. Before that, he had also served as the Pentagon press secretary under former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Kirby retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of rear admiral in 2015 after serving in the military for 28 years. He holds master's degrees in international relations from Troy State University and in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.