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Frontrunner for Biden Defense Chief Would Make History

Michele Flournoy, who served at Pentagon under Obama, would be first woman in role
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2020 12:55 PM CST

(Newser) – As President-elect Biden starts to make picks for his administration, one name being floated for a Cabinet position would be a historic one. The Hill reports that a frontrunner to head the Defense Department is Michele Flournoy, who served as the department's undersecretary of defense for policy under President Obama—and who would be the first woman to head up the Pentagon if Biden chooses her. Flournoy's name was bandied about as a possibility for the position during Hillary Clinton's 2016 run, and she knows the Pentagon "incredibly well," a former staffer says of the 59-year-old. "[The Pentagon is] a vast, vast bureaucracy that nobody can fully understand," the staffer says. "But if there's anybody who understands it as well as anybody could understand it, it's Michele."

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Ironically, pushback against confirming the centrist Flournoy might not come from the GOP—which may not be far off from Flournoy's establishment views on such matters as making technological advances to compete in China, as well as a more cautious withdrawal from Afghanistan—but from progressive Democrats, who "aren't exactly excited" about Flournoy's name coming up, a progressive ally tells the Hill. Some contentious points include Flournoy's work with defense contractors and how she "[helped] craft Obama's Afghanistan war strategy, which paved the way for a futile escalation," per the Daily Beast. Still, this isn't a done deal. Biden's transition team says it "has not made any personnel decisions," a rep tells the Hill. Defense News dives further into what a Flournoy Defense Department might look like. (Read more Michele Flournoy stories.)

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