David Norquist to serve as interim Defense Secretary under Biden, reports say

Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist. Photo: US Department of Defense

Jan. 17 (UPI) — David Norquist will serve as acting secretary of defense when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, multiple sources reported Thursday.

Norquist, the current deputy secretary of defense, will reportedly serve on an interim basis as acting secretary of defense until Lloyd Austin, Biden’s pick to lead the Defense Department, is confirmed.

Defense NewsStars and StripesPolitico and Bloomberg all reported Thursday that Norquist will oversee the Pentagon’s day-to-day operations as Biden steps in to office next week.

“DOD has succession plans in place and will execute those plans as non-career officials depart ahead of noon, Jan. 20, 2021,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough said in a statement to UPI. “The department is coordinating with the Biden-Harris Transition Team on implementation of succession plans that will go into effect after the inauguration.”

The Pentagon referred questions about specific appointments to the Biden-Harris transition team, which did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of Norquist’s appointment.

Austin’s confirmation has been delayed as the Biden administration seeks a Congressional waiver for him to serve, as retired officers are required to be out of uniform for seven years before overseeing the Defense Department, and Austin retired in 2016.

Defense News also reported that three current service officials will stay at the Pentagon, but in different roles.

Navy comptroller Thomas Harker will become acting Navy secretary; Air Force comptroller and acting Air Force undersecretary Shon J. Manasco will be acting Air Force secretary; Army comptroller John Whitley will serve as acting Army secretary; and Stacy Cummings will become acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, replacing Ellen Lord.

Norquist served as DoD comptroller under former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.


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