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Mara Karlin selected to lead Pentagon strategy office

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has selected Mara Karlin, a well-known figure in Washington defense circles, to serve as assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, the White House announced Friday.

If confirmed, Karlin would take the lead role in developing the next National Defense Strategy, a guiding document for the Defense Department’s future plans.

Karlin currently serves as the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Melissa Dalton, a defense expert most recently of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has been serving as the acting assistant secretary of defense for strategy.

Before joining the Biden administration, Karlin was director of strategic studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She previously served at the Defense Department under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, ending her previous government service as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development.

After a three-month period without any Pentagon nominees named, Karlin’s nomination represents the seventh nominee announced in the last two weeks.

On April 2, the White House announced Michael Brown, the head of the Defense Innovation Unit, as the nominee for undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer; Ronald Moultrie for the job of undersecretary for intelligence and security, the top civilian intelligence role at the Pentagon; and Mike McCord as the Defense Department’s top financial official. McCord’s nomination was first reported by Defense News.

Then on Monday, the White House announced Christine Wormuth for Army secretary, the first time a woman has been nominated for that role. Gil Cisneros was nominated to be undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, while Susanna Blume was tapped to head the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, known as CAPE.



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