De Leon Named to Succeed Hamre as Deputy
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has recommended the president nominate Rudy de Leon to replace Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre, who will step down from his Pentagon post March 31.
De Leon currently serves as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Hamre plans to become president and chief executive officer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"Rudy de Leon has dealt with many of the department's toughest and most important issues -- maintaining readiness, improving quality of life for troops and families and making sure the department remains a leader in providing equal opportunity to all," Cohen said in a Jan. 10 press release.
As an undersecretary since August 1997, de Leon has served as Cohen's senior policy adviser on recruitment, career development and pay and benefits for the military's 1.5 million active duty and 1.5 million Guard and Reserve members and 800,000 DoD civilians. He also has been responsible for overseeing DoD's $15 billion-a-year healthcare system, its commissaries and exchanges, the Defense Education Activity and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
Prior to becoming the Pentagon's top personnel and readiness manager, de Leon served for three years as undersecretary of the Air Force. In this position, he focused on maintaining high quality personnel, force readiness and an affordable modernization program that included the F-22 fighter and the C-17 airlifter. His two-year program review of the C-17 led to $5 billion in cost reductions.
De Leon also worked to institute fundamental changes in U.S. military force protection practices when DoD's Anti-Terrorism Action Team was set up after the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.
De Leon's federal career began 21 years ago. Prior to serving as a special assistant to former Defense Secretary Les Aspin in 1993, he was the staff director for the House Armed Services Committee and was responsible for the committee's consideration of annual defense budgets. He helped draft the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols DoD Reorganization Act and oversaw 1990 legislation that authorized the use of military force in the Persian Gulf.
Hamre has served since July 1997 as the nation's 26th deputy defense secretary. Prior to becoming the Pentagon's No. 2 leader, he was DoD comptroller from 1993 to 1997. His association with DoD began on Capitol Hill, where he served for 10 years as a staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Cohen praised Hamre for his commitment to fixing problems with effective, practical solutions that were fair to all concerned. He said Hamre's biggest achievements have been in increasing computer security, bringing better business practices to the department, winning increases in defense spending to improve readiness and procurement, and helping defense contractors and the department adapt to global business conditions.
"John Hamre has been my friend and partner in running the department," Cohen said. "He approaches all issues with extreme confidence and an extraordinary sense of humor. He has had a major impact on the department. I will miss him when he leaves."