William J. Lynn III, the third-longest serving deputy secretary in the post-Cold War era, today announced his intention to step down as deputy secretary and return to private life. Lynn met with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta late last week to discuss his plans. At Panetta’s request, Lynn has agreed to remain until a successor is in place this fall.
“Bill Lynn has provided outstanding advice and counsel to this department and to the nation over the course of his long career,” said Panetta. “I will rely on his experience and expertise during this transition period. His service will be greatly missed.”
As the nation’s 30th deputy secretary of defense, Lynn capped a nearly two-decade career of government service, during which he served as senior national security advisor to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and a senior advisor to five secretaries of defense.
“It has been a rare privilege to serve in the Department of Defense during such a challenging time,” said Lynn. “And it has been an honor to serve alongside an outstanding group of civilian and military members who every day demonstrate the value to this nation of their unwavering commitment and dedicated service.”
During his tenure, Lynn helped the department navigate new strategic and fiscal realities, while supporting efforts in two wars. He helped create a new space policy, the department’s first ever operational-energy strategy, and a landmark cyber strategy to protect the nation in the digital age, including the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command. He received widespread praise from America’s men and women in uniform for expanding their use of social media to communicate with their families while deployed.
Lynn also oversaw the department’s budget process, relations with the defense industry, and acquisition process, including the department’s successful bid for a new refueling tanker.
Improving the care and treatment of wounded warriors was also a signature issue for Lynn, who implemented a new system of disability evaluation and oversaw the department’s development of an integrated electronic health record.
Lynn will continue living in the Washington D.C., area but has not yet announced any future plans.