President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Kathleen Hicks to be his deputy defense secretary, making her the first woman to hold the position if she is confirmed by the Senate.
Hicks, who is leading the Biden's transition team at the Defense Department, is a former senior Pentagon official most recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.
Earlier this month, Biden announced that he had picked retired General Lloyd Austin, who oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, to be his defense secretary.
Austin, who would be the first Black U.S. secretary of defense, was a surprise pick over Michele Flournoy, a former top Defense Department official who was considered the leading contender for the job. Flournoy would have been the first woman defense secretary.
In a statement, Biden announced Hicks as his nominee for the No. 2 Pentagon position and Colin Kahl, his former national security advisor, for the No. 3 post.
"These respected, accomplished civilian leaders will help lead the Department of Defense with integrity and resolve, safeguard the lives and interests of the American people," Biden said.
When Biden takes office, he will inherit a wide range of foreign policy and national security challenges, including China, Iran and North Korea, as well as the coronavirus pandemic raging across the globe.
One of his toughest tasks will be rebuilding U.S. military and diplomatic alliances that have frayed under four years of Trump’s “America First” agenda.