President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take a historic step and select a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time, shattering one of the few remaining barriers to women in the department and the presidential Cabinet.
Michele Flournoy, a politically moderate Pentagon veteran, is regarded by U.S. officials and political insiders as a top choice for the position.
Her selection would come on the heels of a tumultuous Pentagon period that has seen five men hold the top job under President Donald Trump. The most recent defense secretary to go was Mark Esper, who was fired by Trump on Monday after pushing back on issues including troop withdrawals and the use of the military to quell civilian unrest.
If confirmed, Flournoy would face a future that is expected to involve shrinking Pentagon budgets and potential military involvement in the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.
Democrats have long sought to name a woman to the top post in a department that didn’t open all combat jobs to female service members until about five years ago. Flournoy had been the expected choice of Hillary Clinton if she had won the 2016 election. Her name surfaced early as a front-runner for Biden’s Cabinet, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.