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The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities, or ASD(SO/LIC&IC) is the principal civilian advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense on special operations and low-intensity conflict matters. Located within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)), the ASD(SO/LIC&IC) is responsible primarily for the overall supervision (to include oversight of policy and resources) of special operations and low-intensity conflict activities. These activities, according to USSOCOM's 2007 Posture Statement, include counterterrorism; unconventional warfare; direct action; special reconnaissance; foreign internal defense; civil affairs, information and psychological operations; and counterproliferation of WMD.[nb 1]

In addition to policy oversight for special operations and stability operations capabilities, the ASD(SO/LIC&IC) has policy oversight for strategic capabilities and force transformation and resources. This includes oversight of capability development to include general-purpose forces, space and information capabilities, nuclear and conventional strike capabilities, and missile defense. As such, ASD(SO/LIC&IC), after the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, will be the principal official charged with oversight over all warfighting capabilities within the senior management of the Department of Defense. The ASD(SO/LIC&IC) is considered to be a part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Structure[edit | edit source]

This position was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1987 (P.L. 99-661, passed 14 November 1986). The position was officially established on 4 January 1988, by Defense Directive 5138.3. The post's responsibilities for strategic capabilities and forces transformation were added as a result of USD(P) Eric Edelman's 2006 reorganization of the DoD policy office.[1]

The ASD(SO/LIC&IC) is supported in his/her work by three Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense:

  • DASD, Special Operations and Combating Terrorism
  • DASD, Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations
  • DASD, Counternarcotics and Global Threats

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 Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities)[2]
Name Tenure SecDef(s) Served Under President(s) Served Under
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict)
Charles S. Whitehouse July 13, 1988 - July 12, 1989 Frank C. Carlucci III
William H. Taft IV (Acting)
Richard B. Cheney
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Seth Cropsey (Acting) July 13, 1989 - October 18, 1989 Richard B. Cheney George H. W. Bush
James R. Locher October 19, 1989 - June 19, 1993 Richard B. Cheney
Leslie Aspin, Jr.
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
H. Allen Holmes November 18, 1993 - April 30, 1999 Les Aspin, Jr.
William J. Perry
William S. Cohen
Bill Clinton
Brian E. Sheridan May 7, 1999 - January 12, 2001 William S. Cohen Bill Clinton
Position Vacant 2001–2003 Donald H. Rumsfeld George W. Bush
Thomas W. O'Connell July 23, 2003 - April 2007[3] Donald H. Rumsfeld
Robert M. Gates
George W. Bush
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities)
Michael G. Vickers July 23, 2007 - March 2011 Robert M. Gates George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Michael D. Lumpkin (Acting) April 25, 2011 - December 2012 Robert M. Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
Michael A. Sheehan December 2012 – Present Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Barack Obama

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Section 167 of Title 10 USC provides a very similar but not identical list of SOF activities.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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