Paul McHale was nominated by President George Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense on January 9, 2003, and confirmed by the Senate on February 4, 2003. In this position, he is responsible for the supervision of all homeland defense activities of the Department of Defense (DOD). With the reorganization of the office of the Under Secretary of Policy in December 2006, Secretary McHale assumed supervision of Western Hemisphere security affairs for the Department.
Secretary McHale was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lehigh University where he majored in Government, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Highest Honors in 1972.
Following his graduation, Secretary McHale volunteered for duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. Commissioned a second lieutenant in 1972, he spent two years on active duty, including an overseas deployment as a rifle platoon leader in Okinawa and the Philippines.
After release from active duty, Mr. McHale entered Georgetown Law Center in 1974 and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1977. For the next five years, he practiced law in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Secretary McHale began his civilian public service career when he was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1982 where he served five consecutive terms. He resigned in 1991 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, volunteering for active duty as an infantry officer with the Marine Corps during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In January of 1993, Secretary McHale was elected to represent the 15th Congressional district of Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives, where he served for three terms. He was an active member of the House Armed Services Committee, which has oversight responsibility for all U.S. military operations and training.
In 1996, then Congressman McHale co-founded the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus which advocates the interests of reservists and guardsmen world-wide. His leadership earned him the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association 1997 Frank M. Tejeda Leadership Award and the 1998 Reserve Officers Association Minuteman of the Year Award. He has twice been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Department’s highest award for public service.
Secretary McHale has frequently lectured on government, law and military policy on the campuses of many colleges and universities, including the U.S. Army War College, where he is an adjunct professor, and the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as a member of the Board of Visitors. Secretary McHale is a former member of the Board of Advisors at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. On January 3, 1999, then Congressman McHale retired from the U.S. House of Representatives and became a shareholder in the Allentown law firm of Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, P.C. He assumed the position as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense on February 7, 2003. In December 2006, Secretary McHale was granted a temporary leave of absence from his civilian duties at DOD and, thereafter, he returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, deployed to Afghanistan and served as Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior (Afghan National Police). He returned to the Pentagon in August 2007.