The US Senate has voted to confirm Kathleen Hicks as the country's next Deputy Defense Secretary, making her the first woman ever to hold the position.
Ms Hicks previously worked as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and served as the head of President Joe Biden's Pentagon transition team.
At her nomination hearing last week at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ms Hicks said she looked forward to working "alongside women and men – civilian and military –who dedicate their lives to our national defense".
"They are my colleagues and friends, and I could not be prouder at the prospect of serving with them once more," she added.
Starting her career as a civil servant at the Pentagon as a management intern in 1993, she now returns to a department hit hard by COVID-19.
She will work with the new US Secretary of Defense General Lloyd J. Austin to "operationalise" the strategy to counter challenges posed by China and the increased threat from Russia, the US Department of Defense said.
"Armed conflict between the United States and China is not desirable, and it is not inevitable," she said during the confirmation hearing.
"The US military plays a critical role in preventing that outcome. Even as we stand ready today, we must modernize our concepts, capabilities, workforce and budget for deterrence to endure."
She also spoke about wider issues, saying: "We must root out violent extremism, systemic racism, sexual assault and harassment, and other inhibitors to readiness, and this is a matter of readiness.
"We will not be able to attract and retain the world's finest force, one that represents our democracy if we cannot hold accountable those who threaten its viability from within."
Last month, Gen Austin became Mr Biden's second cabinet member after he was appointed US Secretary of Defense. He is the first black person to hold the position.
Cover image: Kathleen Hicks (Picture: US Department of Defense).