Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today announced the appointment of two well-known and respected government communications professionals to key Department of Defense public affairs positions.
George Little, who served as director of public affairs during Panetta's tenure as CIA director, moves to the Pentagon to be deputy assistant secretary of defense/press secretary.
Capt. John Kirby, currently special assistant for public affairs for Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will become deputy assistant secretary of defense/spokesman and director of media operations.
Kirby and Little will fill top slots in the department's Office of Public Affairs, headed by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson, the department's senior communicator.
"I am honored that these two talented individuals have decided to join my team and serve our department and our country," said Panetta. "I look forward to working with them in the weeks and months ahead."
"John and George have earned reputations as two of the most respected and trusted communicators in Washington," Wilson said. "Their combined experience and expertise in dealing with a wide range of military and national security issues will make them valuable assets to Secretary Panetta and to our Pentagon communications team."
Kirby has served as the spokesman and senior communications strategist for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October 2007, and has been a senior member of Mullen's communications team for ten years. A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Kirby graduated from the University of South Florida in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in history, working part-time in the Sports Department of the St. Petersburg Times. He received his Navy commission in September 1986 after completing Officer Candidate School. At sea, Kirby served aboard the guided missile frigate, USS Aubrey Fitch, as electrical officer, assistant navigator and communications officer. He also served as public affairs officer aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Forrestal, and on the staff of the commander, U.S. Second Fleet, embarked aboard the command and control ship, USS Mount Whitney. Ashore, he completed tours as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy; and as public affairs officer with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels), and with the staffs of the chief of naval personnel, the commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and the chief of naval operations. He served as editor-in-chief of the Navy's flagship monthly magazine, “All Hands,” from 1997-1999. Kirby holds a master’s degree in international relations from Troy State University and an master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College. He and his wife, Donna, have a daughter and a son.
Little was appointed director of public affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency in October 2010, where he served as the CIA's chief media spokesman, provided strategic counsel to the director and his senior leadership team, coordinated internal communications to CIA employees in the United States and abroad, and managed communications and outreach to the American public. Little began his communications work at the CIA in April 2007 as chief of media relations. From 2005-2007, he worked in the National Counterterrorism Center's (NCTC) Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning, where he led the development of the congressionally-mandated National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel, and headed an interagency group responsible for assessing the U.S. government's progress in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Little previously worked as an intelligence community and business consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM. He received his doctorate in international relations, with distinction, from Georgetown University, where he has also been an adjunct professor of international relations and international law, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Virginia. His wife, Bethany Little, is chief education counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. They have two young sons.
Little will begin his work at the Pentagon today. Kirby will begin his transition to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of Public Affairs in August.