Vic Mercado is Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities. He is responsible for advising the Secretary of
Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy on national security and
defense strategy; the forces, contingency plans, and associated posture
necessary to implement the defense strategy; nuclear deterrence and missile
defense policy; and security cooperation plans and policies. Mr. Mercado
ensures that the Department’s program and budget decisions support and
advance senior DoD leaders’ strategic direction, especially as articulated in
defense planning guidance.
Mr. Mercado graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May 1983 with a
Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science. Mr. Mercado holds
a master’s degree in systems technology in Joint Command, Control and
Communications from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Prior to his appointment as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans,
Mr. Mercado served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years retiring in November 2018.
His service at sea as a surface warfare officer included assignments aboard
USS Leftwich (DD 984), USS Valley Forge (CG 50), USS Antietam (CG 54), and
USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), culminating with command of USS Decatur (DDG
73) during an accelerated deployment with the John C. Stennis Battle Group in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan and United Nations
sanctions on Iraq. He subsequently commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 with
additional duties as sea combat commander for the John C. Stennis Carrier
Ashore, he completed a tour with the Navy’s engineering and acquisition
community as the command, control, communications and intelligence warfare
systems engineering manager for the AEGIS Program Manager (PMS 400),
served as an action officer and vice director, Navy Staff for Staff Operations and
Special Events, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) N09BX, as the
national defense legislative fellow for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and later led the
Commander’s Action Group for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. On the Joint
Staff, he served as the joint staff lead in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategy Group;
as assistant deputy director, Global Strategic Partnerships (J-5); as executive
assistant to the director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5); and as executive
assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following his tour on the
Joint Staff, he served as the military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense.
Mr. Mercado’s flag officer tours include deputy director, Surface Warfare Division
(N96B) and Director, Assessments Division (N81) on the staff of the chief of
naval operations, and as vice director, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J5) at U.S.
Central Command. Afloat, he commanded Carrier Strike Group 8, including the
transition from the Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike
Group. His final assignment on active duty was the director, Maritime Operations
for U.S. Pacific Fleet.