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The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, or ASD(LA) is the head of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, responsible for providing support to the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) in his/her dealings with the United States Congress. In addition to serving as SecDef's legislative adviser, the ASD(LA) promotes the Department of Defense's strategy, legislative priorities, policies, and budget before Congress. In carrying out these responsibilities, the ASD(LA) directs a team of managers, action officers, and support personnel who help direct, monitor and manage communications and activities between Congress and elements of the Department of Defense.[1] The ASD(LA) is considered a part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

History[edit | edit source]

This office was established as Special Assistant (Legal, Legislative, and Public Affairs) upon the creation of the National Military Establishment in 1947 (the NME was renamed the Department of Defense in 1949). This was one of three special assistants to the first Secretary of Defense.[2]

The post was retitled Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legal and Legislative Affairs) in August 1949 based on amendments to the National Security Act (P.L. 81-216) that authorized three Assistant Secretaries of Defense.[2]

The position was abolished in 1953, with its functions divided and transferred to the General Counsel and the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative and Public Affairs), new posts established as the result of DoD Reorganization Plan No. 6 (June 1953) and Defense Directive 5122.1 (September 1953).[2]

This position was abolished again in 1957, with its functions divided and transferred to Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs), new posts established by Defense Directive 5105.13 (August 1957).[2]

Since 1957, the responsibilities of this position have stayed mostly constant, but the title has changed between Assistant Secretary of Defense and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense five times, largely because the Secretary of Defense has historically been authorized a limited number of assistant secretaries. [nb 1] The position was given statutory standing as the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs) by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1994 (P.L. 103-160), passed November 30, 1993.[2]

Office Holders[edit | edit source]

The table below includes both the various titles of this post over time, as well as all the holders of those offices.

Assistant Secretaries of Defense (Legislative Affairs)[2]
Name Tenure SecDef(s) Served Under President(s) Served Under
Special Assistant (Legal, Legislative, and Public Affairs)
Marx Leva September 18, 1947 – September 11, 1949 James V. Forrestal Harry Truman
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legal and Legislative Affairs)
Marx Leva September 12, 1949 - May 1, 1951 Louis A. Johnson
George C. Marshall
Harry Truman
Daniel K. Edwards May 3, 1951 - November 19, 1951 George C. Marshall
Robert A. Lovett
Harry Truman
Charles A. Coolidge November 20, 1951 - December 31, 1952 Robert A. Lovett Harry Truman
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative and Public Affairs)
Frederick A. Seaton September 15, 1953 - February 20, 1955 Charles E. Wilson Dwight Eisenhower
Robert Tripp Ross March 15, 1955 - February 20, 1957 Charles E. Wilson Dwight Eisenhower
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
Brig. Gen. Clarence J. Hauck, Jr. April 1957 - April 1959 Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
Dwight Eisenhower
George W. Vaughan April 1959 - March 1960 Neil H. McElroy
Thomas S. Gates
Dwight Eisenhower
Brig. Gen. James D. Hittle March 1960 - November 1960 Thomas S. Gates Dwight Eisenhower
Norman S. Paul January 25, 1961 - June 30, 1962 Robert S. McNamara John F. Kennedy
David E. McGiffert August 8, 1962 - June 30, 1965 Robert S. McNamara John F. Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson
Jack L. Stempler December 13, 1965 - January 4, 1970 Robert S. McNamara
Clark M. Clifford
Melvin R. Laird
Lyndon Johnson
Richard Nixon
Richard G. Capen, Jr. January 5, 1970 - May 1, 1971 Melvin R. Laird Richard Nixon
Rady A. Johnson May 2, 1971 - March 10, 1973 Melvin R. Laird
Elliot L. Richardson
Richard Nixon
Col. George L.J. Dalferes (Acting) March 17, 1973 - April 17, 1973 Elliot L. Richardson Richard Nixon
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
John O. Marsh April 17, 1973 - February 15, 1974 Elliot L. Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Richard Nixon
John M. Maury April 12, 1974 - February 28, 1976 James R. Schlesinger
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
William K. Brehm March 19, 1976 - January 20, 1977 Donald H. Rumsfeld Gerald Ford
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
Jack L. Stempler March 23, 1977 - January 19, 1981 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
Russell A. Rourke May 6, 1981 - December 8, 1985 Caspar W. Weinberger Ronald Reagan
M. D. B. Carlisle August 4, 1986 - April 28, 1989 Caspar W. Weinberger
Frank C. Carlucci III
William H. Taft IV (Acting)
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
David J. Gribbin III May 22, 1989 - January 18, 1993 Richard B. Cheney George H. W. Bush
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
Sandra K. Stuart August 1, 1993 - September 15, 1994 Leslie Aspin, Jr.
William J. Perry
William Clinton
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs)
Sandra K. Stuart September 15, 1994 - February 27, 1999 William J. Perry
William S. Cohen
William Clinton
John K. Veroneau March 2, 1999 - November 10, 1999 (Acting)
November 10, 1999 - February 16, 2001
William S. Cohen William Clinton
George W. Bush
Powell A. Moore May 4, 2001 - December 2004 Donald H. Rumsfeld George W. Bush
Daniel B. Stanley [3] December 2004 - June 30, 2005 (Acting)
June 30, 2005 - January 2006
Donald H. Rumsfeld George W. Bush
Robert L. Wilkie [4] January 31, 2006 - September 29, 2006 (Acting)
September 29, 2006 - January 2009
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Robert M. Gates
George W. Bush
Elizabeth L. King May 7, 2009 - Robert M. Gates Barack Obama

Budget[edit | edit source]

Budget Totals[edit | edit source]

The annual budget for the ASD(LA) is contained in the OSD's budget, under the Defense-Wide Operation and Maintenance (O&M) account. The Obama administration is expecting to cut funding for this position by over 37% in FY12.

ASD(LA) Budget, FY 11-12 ($ in thousands) [5]
Line Item FY11 Estimate FY12 Request
Assistant Secretary of Defense, Legislative Affairs 789 495

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. This type of apparently minor, yet bureaucratically significant, distinction is sometimes satirized in popular culture. For example, on NBC's The Office, Dwight Schrute is a self-described "Assistant Regional Manager," but is always corrected by his boss to be an "Assistant to the Regional Manager.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Assistant Secretary of Defense Legislative Affairs, Home, "http://la.defense.gov/", February 1, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Department of Defense Key Officials". Historical Office, OSD. 2004. http://osdhistory.defense.gov/docs/DOD%20Key%20Officials%201947-2004.pdf. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  3. http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0805/082605dm.htm
  4. Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs, "Robert L. Wilkie Named Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs" Press Release http://www.loyno.edu/news/story/2006/10/18/1112
  5. "Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Budget Estimates, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)". Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), OSD. 2011. http://comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2012/budget_justification/pdfs/01_Operation_and_Maintenance/O_M_VOL_1_PARTS/O_M_VOL_1_BASE_PARTS/OSD_OP-5_FY_2012.pdf. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 

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