WASHINGTON — The White House has announced its intent to nominate John Rood as undersecretary of defense for policy, perhaps the Pentagon’s most important vacancy.
Rood, who serves as senior vice president of Lockheed Martin International, has been long rumored to be the pick for the USD-P role.
During the Bush administration, Rood served as both acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, and previously worked as deputy assistant secretary of defense for forces policy.
Earlier this month, Defense News spoke with three former USD-Ps to outline the importance of that job being empty for nine months. One of those former officials, Eric Edelman, worked with Rood during the Bush administration and believes the Lockheed executive will succeed in the job.
“I’m a big fan,” Edelman said. “I think he’ll do very well at both parts of this. My expectation is he’ll be popular with the folks he works with and will be very good of both elements of the job.”
The question now is how quickly Rood can move forward. This announcement is just the intent to nominate; the actual nomination must be advanced by the Senate Armed Services Committee and then receive a full vote in the Senate.
That may take a while, as the Hill is preoccupied with a push from the Trump administration to modify taxes and must pass a budget by early December. In addition, SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., told Defense News earlier this month that he has stalled out nominees until he receives sufficient information on the Trump administration’s plans for Iraq and Afghanistan.
McCain has also expressed a reluctance for more industry executives to enter the Pentagon, and Rood will likely face tough questions from the chairman.
David Trachtenberg, who was announced as the nominee to be principal deputy undersecretary for policy in March, continues to sit in the Senate. Although cleared by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, Trachtenberg has yet to receive a confirmation vote in the broader Senate.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.