BERLIN — President Joe Biden plans to nominate Christine Wormuth, a former senior Pentagon official, to be the first woman to lead the Army, the White House said Monday.

If confirmed by the Senate as Army secretary, Wormuth would be one of the more powerful officials in a defence establishment long dominated by men. She would work with the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. James McConville, who does not command soldiers but is responsible, along with the Army secretary, for training and equipping them.

Biden has not yet nominated anyone to serve as Air Force or Navy secretary. Many other Pentagon positions that require Senate confirmation also have yet to be filled. The most senior Defence Department nominee still awaiting Senate confirmation is Colin Kahl, picked to be under secretary of defence for policy. His nomination emerged from committee on a 13-13 vote and it’s unclear when the full Senate will act.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was traveling abroad when Wormuth’s nomination was announced, praised her track record.

“Christine is a true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation’s security,” he said in a prepared statement. He called her deeply experienced.

“I have no doubt that if confirmed she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honour and integrity as the secretary of the Army,” Austin said.

Wormuth led Biden’s Pentagon transition team during the tumultuous period between the November election and Inauguration Day. She currently is director of the International Security and Defence Policy Center at the RAND Corp., a federally funded think-tank .

During the administration of former President Barack Obama, she served as the under secretary of defence for policy. She also served as the senior director for defence policy on Obama’s National Security Council and held other Defence Department positions.

Wormuth’s nomination would continue a Biden trend of choosing women and people of colour for top Defence Department jobs. Austin is the first Black secretary of defence, and Kathleen Hicks is the first woman to hold the job of deputy defence secretary.

The White House also announced the nominations of Gil Cisneros to be undersecretary of defence for personnel and readiness, and Susanna Blume as director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, a key office that provides independent analysis and evaluation of major defence programs and activities. She currently is the interim director of that office and has previously held senior staff positions in the Pentagon.

Cisneros is a former member of Congress and a Navy veteran.
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