Intel, acquisition and budget nominees for Pentagon announced

Intel, acquisition and budget nominees for Pentagon announced


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday announced a trio of nominees to be undersecretaries of defense.

Michael Brown, the current head of the Defense Innovation Unit, was announced as the nominee for undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment (A&S), the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer. Ronald Moultrie was tapped to be undersecretary for intelligence and security, the top civilian intelligence role at DoD.

And Mike McCord was announced as the undersecretary-comptroller, the department’s top financial official. McCord’s nomination was first reported by Defense News.

The three men represent the first DoD nominations announced since Dec. 30, a span of over three months.

Brown, a former CEO of Symantec, joined the DoD in September 2018 to lead DIU, a small office dedicated to increasing ties between the department and commercial technology firms. He has gained a reputation in Congress as a China hawk thanks to his co-authorship of a departmental report about Chinese influence in American tech companies.

While Brown lacks experience with running major defense programs, sources say the Biden team wanted to bring in someone with experience from outside DoD for the A&S job and pointed to his software background as useful at a time when the department is increasingly leaning on digital tools. He will also have to manage the department’s procurement response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moultrie joins the Pentagon after a long career in the intelligence world, including roles with the CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and as a Russian linguist in the U.S. military. He retired in 2015 as the National Security Agency’s Director of Operations, joining a number of boards in the years since.

Moultrie, who is Black, joins the department at a time when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is putting increasing focus on racial tensions within the military. In Sept. 2020, Moultrie published an article on Worth.com outlining racist challenges he faced throughout his career. “Writing this story has been cathartic,” he concluded in the article “My reluctance has been overtaken by a sense of moral obligation to embolden others to come forward.”

If confirmed this will be the second stint for McCord at the comptroller’s office, as he held the job from June 2014 until the end of the Obama administration in January 2017.

The comptroller serves as the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense, with oversight of the more than $700 billion defense budget. It also comes with the responsibility of managing the department’s annual audit, an effort that began under McCord’s successor, David Norquist.

McCord, who also spent time as the deputy comptroller, was part of Biden’s transition landing team at the department. Since leaving government, he has held a number of different roles, including as director for civil-military programs at the Stennis Center for Public Service and on the board of trustees for the Aerospace Corporation.





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Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.

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