Christine Fox set to become highest-ranking woman at Pentagon

Christine Fox, who has been an outspoken opponent of the sequester, is returning to the Pentagon as Deputy Defense Secretary.
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President Obama has named Christine Fox as acting deputy defense secretary while he searches for a permanent replacement for Ashton Carter, who announced his resignation in October and will step down Wednesday. In her new position, Fox will be the highest-ranking woman at the Defense Department.

Fox most recently served as the Pentagon’s director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, where she evaluated plans, programs and budgets for the defense secretary. She left earlier this year to join the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a principal technical advisor, but began serving as an unpaid consultant to Carter in September.

She has been a vocal critic of the sequester cuts that have hit the Defense Department, writing in a September op-ed for Defense News, “Pretending that the ongoing political stalemate that perpetuates that the sequester is not harmful is the most harmful thing we can do. There needs to be a serious national dialogue on what a sensible, sustainable and strategically sound defense budget looks like. But let’s drop the illusion that by efficiency nip and managerial tuck the US military can absorb cuts of this size and of this immediacy without significant consequences for America’s interests and influence in the world.”

Carter was considered a top contender to lead the Pentagon after the retirement of then-Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this year, but Mr. Obama selected former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican. Carter stayed on at the president’s request before submitting his resignation in October, writing, “it is time for me to go.”

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.