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Austin Administers Speedy Swearing-In for DOD's New Indo-Pacific Policy Guru

July 25, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

At 614 miles per hour, it may have been the fastest oath ceremony for an assistant secretary of defense ever as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today administered the oath of office to Ely Ratner aboard an Air Force E-4B headed to Singapore.

Ratner, who is now the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, had helmed DOD's China Task Force.  

Two men face one another; both hold up their right hands.
Oath of Office
On board an Air Force E-4B bound for Singapore, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III administers the oath of office to Ely Ratner, the Defense Department's new assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, July 25, 2021. Austin is on a week-long trip to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral meetings with senior officials in Singapore; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Manila, Philippines.
Photo By: Chad McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 210725-D-TT977-0078

The Senate approved Ratner's nomination July 22. Senators also approved Heidi Shyu as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering; Gina Ortiz Jones as undersecretary of the Air Force; Meredith Berger as assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment; Shawn Skelly as assistant secretary of defense for readiness; and Caroline Krass as DOD's general counsel. 

"These deeply qualified public servants represent decades of combined expertise and leadership in national security and defense policy, and I am grateful for their willingness to serve the country at this critical time," Austin said in a written statement.

Austin swore in Ratner in the press room of the so-called "doomsday plane." The 747-derivative was flying at 30,000 feet at N 52.22, W 168.05, according to the crew. The aircraft had left Fairbanks, Alaska, earlier in the day.

Two men shake hands.
Austin and Ratner
On board an Air Force E-4B bound for Singapore, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III shakes hands with Ely Ratner, the Defense Department's new assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, July 25, 2021. Austin is on a week-long trip to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral meetings with senior officials in Singapore; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Manila, Philippines.
Photo By: Chad McNeeley
VIRIN: 210725-D-TT977-0083C

Austin welcomed Ratner to the job and said the new assistant secretary had "fire in his eyes and energy in his belly." The secretary praised Ratner for his work leading the China Task Force, saying it had helped define the situation between the United States and China.

While there have been many reenlistments aboard the E-4B, this may have been the first swearing in of an assistant defense secretary aboard the aircraft.