President Obama officially nominated former Navy Under Secretary Robert Work to serve as the deputy defense secretary, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced at the Pentagon Friday afternoon.
In a move that has been widely discussed throughout the week, Obama tapped the retired Marine Corps officer as Hagel's right hand man to help lead the military through a period of transition from its war footing to go along with a host of budget cuts.
"Bob's distinguished career in public service, his ability, and his experience and knowledge at DoD, make him uniquely qualified for this position," Hagel said. "If confirmed, he will bring to the deputy's role essential qualities required to help lead our national defense enterprise at a very, very challenging time."
The Senate Armed Service Committee has scheduled Work's confirmation hearing for next week on Feb. 13. The committee actually pre-empted the defense secretary's announcement when it e-mailed its hearing schedule that included Work's confirmation hearing on Friday morning.
Work served as the Navy's second-ranking civilian from 2009 until last year when he stepped down and took over as the CEO for the Center for New American Security, a Washington D.C. think tank that Obama has tapped for multiple political appointees.
The straight talking former Navy under secretary developed a reputation to offer Congress and the media a frank account of the status of Navy weapons programs. He earned a warm reception on Capitol Hill with key committee staffers who have appreciated his ability to speak plainly about Navy programs.
Work served 27 years as a Marine Corps officer before he retired and Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments as a senior fellow. The year before he took over as the Navy's under secretary in 2009, he served on President Obama's Department of Defense Transition Team when Obama took office.
Work spent four years defending key, and often controversial programs such as the Littoral Combat Systems and the Joint Strike Fighter. If confirmed, Hagel will depend on Work and his relationships on Capitol Hill to work with Congress to maintain programs and end strength funding for the military.
Members of Congress have already issued statements of their support for the nomination to include those from across the aisle.
"Bob Work's career, both in and out of uniform, has been devoted to serious analysis of the strategic challenges and opportunities facing the United States and its military, winning the respect of both Democrats and Republicans," said Rep Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee.
Work will take over for former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who stepped down last December. Christine Fox has served as the acting deputy since that time.
"The president and I both appreciate Bob's willingness to serve his country again," Hagel said.
A retired Marine Corps officer, he's an admired and thoughtful leader having recently served, as you know, as the under secretary of the Navy."