Michele Flournoy has served as under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration.(AP)
Michele Flournoy has served as under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration.(AP)

Michele Flournoy: All about former US govt official likely to become first woman Pentagon chief

Several media reports have suggested that Biden is expected to select a woman to head the Pentagon and Michele Flournoy is being regarded as a top choice for the position.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
UPDATED ON NOV 17, 2020 04:23 PM IST

The tussle between US President Donald Trump and Pentagon resulted in five defense secretaries over four years, and the next nomination by President-elect Joe Biden becomes extremely important given the vulnerable situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Several media reports, including the Associated Press, have suggested that Biden is expected to select a woman to head the Pentagon and Michele Flournoy is being regarded as a top choice for the position.

Flournoy, who helped lead Obama-Biden transition team at the Defense Department, has served as under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration from February 2009 to February 2012. The 59-year-old former government official also served in the Clinton administration as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction and deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy.

Born in California, Flournoy earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master’s degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University. She co-founded the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves on the board. For several years, she was a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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If nominated and confirmed, Flournoy would face a mountainous task of handling the troops in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Last month, Trump asserted that all US troops stationed in Afghanistan will leave the war-torn country by Christmas, undercutting the assertions of US diplomats that troop reductions would be based on the Taliban’s commitment to the peace agreement signed in February.

The United States is witnessing the worst phase of the coronavirus pandemic and the next defense secretary could possibly face shrinking of Pentagon budget and the task of deploying the military to distribute Covid-19 vaccine. During a conference in March, Flournoy had said that a lot of work will be required over several years to recover the trust and standing among international partners.

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