General Counsel of the Department of Defense
Seal of the Office of General Counsel
Flag of the General Counsel[1]
Incumbent
Caroline Krass
since August 2, 2021
Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary
StyleThe Honorable
Reports toSecretary of Defense
Deputy Secretary of Defense
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 140
PrecursorAssistant Secretary of Defense for Legal and Legislative Affairs
Formation1953
First holderH. Struve Hensel
DeputyPrincipal Deputy General Counsel Corin R. Stone
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level IV[2]
Websiteogc.osd.mil

The General Counsel of the Department of Defense is the chief legal officer of the Department of Defense (DoD), advising both the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on all legal matters and services, and providing legal advice to Office of the Secretary of Defense organizations and, as appropriate, other DOD components.

The General Counsel develops the department's Legislative Program and coordinates DoD positions on legislation and Executive Orders; coordinates the appeals process for denied FOIA requests; oversees the performance and standards of DoD attorneys; establishes policy on general legal issues and determines the DoD position on specific legal problems; maintains repository for all international agreements coordinated, negotiated, or concluded by DoD personnel; and is "dual-hatted" as Director of the Defense Legal Services Agency.

This position was established by Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1953 and by Defense Directive 5145.1, signed 24 August 1953. The position derived its responsibilities from one of the original three Special Assistants to the Secretary (established in 1947) and the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legal and Legislative Affairs) (established in 1949).[3]

Office holders

General Counsels of the Department of Defense[3]
Image Name Tenure SecDef(s) served under President(s) served under
H. Struve Hensel August 17, 1953 – March 4, 1954 Charles Erwin Wilson Dwight Eisenhower
Wilber M. Brucker April 23, 1954 – July 20, 1955
Mansfield D. Sprague October 6, 1955 – February 27, 1957
Robert Dechert February 28, 1957 – July 15, 1959 Charles Erwin Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
J. Vincent Burke Jr. September 14, 1959 – January 20, 1961 Neil H. McElroy
Thomas S. Gates
Cyrus Vance January 29, 1961 – June 30, 1962 Robert S. McNamara John F. Kennedy
John McNaughton July 5, 1962 – June 25, 1964 John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) July 1, 1964 – September 19, 1966 Lyndon B. Johnson
Paul Warnke October 3, 1966 – July 31, 1967
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) August 1, 1967 – August 20, 1970 Robert S. McNamara
Clark Clifford
Melvin Laird
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
J. Fred Buzhardt August 20, 1970 – January 4, 1974 Melvin Laird
Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Richard Nixon
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) May 22, 1973 – March 13, 1974 James R. Schlesinger
Martin Richard Hoffmann March 14, 1974 – August 5, 1975 Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) August 6, 1975 – January 1, 1976 James R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
Gerald Ford
Richard A. Wiley January 2, 1976 – January 15, 1977 Donald Rumsfeld
Deanne C. Siemer April 28, 1977 – October 15, 1979 Harold Brown Jimmy Carter
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) October 15, 1979 – February 1, 1980
Togo D. West Jr. February 1, 1980 – January 20, 1981
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) January 20, 1981 – April 1, 1981 Caspar Weinberger Ronald Reagan
William Howard Taft IV April 2, 1981 – May 2, 1984
Chapman B. Cox May 3, 1984 – December 16, 1985
Henry L. Garrett III February 5, 1986 – August 6, 1987
Leonard Niederlehner (Acting) August 7, 1987 – October 25, 1987
Kathleen A. Buck October 26, 1987 – December 30, 1989 Caspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
William Howard Taft IV
Dick Cheney
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Terrence O'Donnell October 30, 1989 – March 6, 1992 Dick Cheney George H. W. Bush
C. Paul Beach Jr. (Acting) March 7, 1992 – August 11, 1992
David Addington August 12, 1992 – January 20, 1993
John H. McNeil (Acting) January 20, 1993 – May 5, 1993 Les Aspin Bill Clinton
Jamie Gorelick May 5, 1993 – March 17, 1994 Lee Aspin
William Perry
Stephen W. Preston (Acting) March 28, 1994 – September 28, 1994 William Perry
Judith A. Miller September 29, 1994 – November 7, 1999 William Perry
William Cohen
Douglas A. Dworkin November 7, 1999 – June 14, 2000 (Acting)
June 14, 2000 – January 19, 2001
William Cohen
William J. Haynes II May 24, 2001 – February 26, 2008[4] Donald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
George W. Bush
Jeh Johnson February 10, 2009 – December 31, 2012 Robert Gates
Leon Panetta
Barack Obama
Robert S. Taylor (Acting)[5] January 1, 2013 – October 25, 2013 Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Stephen W. Preston October 25, 2013–June 2015 Chuck Hagel
Ashton Carter
Robert S. Taylor (Acting)[5] June 2015 - June 14, 2016 Ashton Carter
Jennifer M. O'Connor June 14, 2016–January, 20 2017 Ashton Carter
William S. Castle (Acting) August 2017 – July 2018 James Mattis Donald Trump
Paul C. Ney Jr. August 20, 2018 – January 20, 2021 James Mattis
Mark Esper
Christopher C. Miller (acting)
Beth George (Acting) January 20, 2021 – August 2, 2021 David Norquist (acting)
Lloyd Austin
Joe Biden
Caroline Krass August 2, 2021 – present Lloyd Austin

See also

References

  1. ^ https://tioh.army.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=16157&CategoryId=9352 Archived 2023-09-04 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed on 2023-9-3.
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5315
  3. ^ a b "Department of Defense Key Officials" (PDF). Historical Office, OSD. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  4. ^ "Pentagon lawyer to leave administration: The Swamp". Swamppolitics.com. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  5. ^ a b "General Counsel Bio". Dod.gov. Retrieved 2013-07-04.