Aerial of Pentagon building in United States
USA

US President-Elect Biden Likely To Choose Woman As Pentagon Chief

The US Department of Defense is one of three cabinet agencies that has never been led by a woman.

Aerial of Pentagon building in United States

US President-Elect Joe Biden is expected to select a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time.

The US Department of Defense is one of three cabinet agencies – the others being the Treasury and Veterans' affairs – that has never been led by a woman.

The move would shatter one of the few remaining barriers to having women in the Pentagon and the presidential cabinet.

It would also be consistent with Mr Biden's pledge to have a diverse cabinet.

Democrats have long looked to name a woman to the top post at the department, which only opened all combat jobs to female service members about five years ago.

Michele Flournoy, a politically moderate Pentagon veteran, is regarded by US officials and political insiders as a top choice for the position. 

Ms Flournoy, 59, had been the expected choice of Hillary Clinton if she had won the 2016 election, and her name surfaced early on as a front runner for Mr Biden's cabinet, according to insiders.

Seen as a steady hand who favours strong military cooperation abroad, Ms Flournoy has served multiple times in the Pentagon - most recently as the undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2012.

Michele Flournoy visits a base in Iraq in 2010 (Picture: US Department of Defense).

It comes after four years of Donald Trump's "America First" policy, which saw the White House become more distrustful and critical of allies.

In contrast, Ms Flournoy has called for closer international cooperation on defence policy.

In March, Ms Flournoy said that repairing the perception that America may no longer be a reliable partner would be one of the "top agenda items...whoever the next president is".

“But I don’t think it's going to be easy or happen overnight," she added.

"I think it's going to take a lot of work over a number of years to recover that trust and that standing."

She also views China as the most significant long-term challenge to American dominance on the world stage.

In July, Ms Flournoy said the US is losing its military technological advantage over key competitors, like China, and reversing this trend must be the Pentagon's top priority.

She has also warned against abandoning the Middle East and instead advocates "more modest levels of continuous presence" there.

Cover image: Aerial of Pentagon building in United States (Picture: PA).