WASHINGTON ― The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Russia expert Celeste Wallander to be the Pentagon’s assistant defense secretary for international security affairs.
The Senate voted 83 to 13 to confirm Wallander, who served as chief executive of the U.S.-Russia Foundation and as a Russia expert on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.
Wallander, in the far-reaching Pentagon policy role, will advise Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on policies relating to the Middle East, Europe (including NATO), Russia, Eurasia, Africa and the Western Hemisphere. She’ll also oversee U.S. military security cooperation and foreign military sales.
At her confirmation hearing last month, Wallander made headlines when she criticized the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea as “too slow and too incremental.” She had been on the NSC at the time.
The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced Wallander’s nomination on Feb. 1. From there, it was among nominations delayed by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., whose objection necessitated a motion to end debate, an added procedural step on Wednesday.
The Senate also confirmed David Honey, nominated to serve as deputy undersecretary for research and engineering. Honey, a retired Air Force officer and former director of science and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has been special assistant to the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The vote was 94 to 1.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.