Eric Pierce serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, Mr. Pierce promotes the policies, strategies, and budget of the Department to the United States Congress.
From June 2009 to April 2011, Mr. Pierce served as the Team Chief of the Policy Division in the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) supervising political appointees, military personnel and civilians who provided direct support to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and more than a dozen Assistant Secretaries and Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense. Additionally, he served as OLA lead on several high priority administration and Department initiatives, including: the New START Treaty with Russia, nuclear weapons modernization, U.S. force posture in the Pacific, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review.
Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Pierce served as a fellow and principal congressional liaison at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a non-partisan research organization that launched in early 2007. At CNAS, he collaborated on reports and events focused on U.S. interests in Iraq, readiness of American ground forces, managing the Department of Defense, the relationship between Congress and the Pentagon, global climate change and advancing peace in the Middle East.
From 2001 – 2007, Mr. Pierce served as Military Legislative Assistant to Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees and former member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. In this capacity, Mr. Pierce assisted in the passage of the annual defense authorization and appropriations bills and war supplementals, and helped the Senator shape legislation and policy initiatives in areas including: Iraq and Afghanistan strategy, military personnel policy, nuclear deterrence related to Iran and North Korea, missile defense and issues of concern to Offutt Air Force Base, U.S. Strategic Command and the Nebraska National Guard. Mr. Pierce traveled with Senator Nelson and other Members of Congress to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel.
Before working in the Senate, Mr. Pierce was a Department of Defense Fellow serving at the National Security Council as a Director for Transnational Threats focusing on drug trafficking and international crime; in the Office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict providing DOD support to counter-drug efforts in South America; and at the Department of the Navy’s Office of Program Appraisal on a team developing business reform initiatives.
Mr. Pierce was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. He is the son of a World War II veteran and both of his parents spent their lives as public school teachers. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Louisiana State University and as a college student served in the AmeriCorps pilot program. He holds a Master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Pierce has been a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University since 2008 and is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a past recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Achievement, and was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service by Secretary Robert M. Gates for his work on Senate ratification of the New START Treaty.
Mr. Pierce is married to Jamie E. Smith, Deputy White House Press Secretary. He is an avid runner, movie buff and devoted fan of the Washington Nationals.