James McPherson
34th United States Under Secretary of the Army
In office
March 25, 2020 – January 20, 2021
Acting: July 23, 2019 – March 24, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byRyan McCarthy
Succeeded byChristopher Lowman (acting)
General Counsel of the Army
In office
January 2, 2018 – March 24, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Joe Biden
Preceded byEarl G. Matthews (acting)
Succeeded byMichele Pearce (acting)
Acting United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
April 7, 2020 – May 29, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyGregory J. Slavonic (acting)
Preceded byThomas Modly (acting)
Succeeded byKenneth Braithwaite
39th Judge Advocate General of the Navy
In office
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMichael Lohr
Succeeded byBruce E. MacDonald
Personal details
James Edwin McPherson

(1953-01-20) January 20, 1953 (age 71)
Los Angeles County, California, U.S.
Spouse(s)Nancy Culver (1972–1987)
EducationSan Diego State University (BA)
University of San Diego (JD)
JAG School (LLM)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
 United States Navy
Years of service1972–1975 (Army)
1979–2006 (Navy)
Rank Rear Admiral
UnitArmy Military Police Corps
Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps
AwardsLegion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal

James Edwin McPherson[1] (born January 20, 1953)[1][2] is an American government official and retired United States Navy rear admiral. He served as the General Counsel of the Army from January 2, 2018, to March 24, 2020. He served as the United States Under Secretary of the Army from March 25, 2020, to January 20, 2021, and in acting capacity from July 23, 2019, to March 24, 2020.[3][4] He served as Acting United States Secretary of the Navy from April 7, 2020, to May 29, 2020, following the resignation of Thomas Modly.[5]


McPherson is a native of San Diego. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with an undergraduate degree in public administration.[6] He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1981 from the University of San Diego School of Law, and in 1991, he was awarded a Master of Laws degree in Military Law from The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.[6]


Rear Admiral James McPherson as the 39th Judge Advocate General of the Navy.

McPherson enlisted in the Army in 1972, and served three years as a military policeman, before leaving the Army for college.[7] In 1979 he was commissioned as an ensign in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the Naval Reserve. He interned in the Naval Legal Service Office (NLSO) in San Diego and then attended Naval Justice School, in Newport, R.I., completing his training in 1982. He served as a judge advocate and trial counsel at several Navy commands and ships before and after completing his graduate training in 1991. In June 1994, he reported to the staff of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet as the Force Judge Advocate. In December 1995, he joined the staff of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations as the Assistant for Legal and Legislative Matters. In October 1997, he became Special Counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations. In September 2000, he assumed command of Trial Service Office East, Norfolk, Va. In October 2002, he was promoted to rear admiral and assigned as the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Commander of Naval Legal Service Command. On November 10, 2004, McPherson became the 39th Judge Advocate General of the Navy, a position he held until 2006.[8]

McPherson has served as the executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General. He also served as the general counsel of the Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity.

On October 13, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of McPherson to become the General Counsel of the United States Department of the Army.[9] The United States Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote on December 20.[10] He was sworn in on January 2, 2018.

On December 5, 2019, Trump nominated him to be Under Secretary of the Army, a position that he had been holding since July 23, 2019, in an acting capacity, while concurrently serving as General Counsel of the Army.[11] He was sworn in on March 25, 2020, after being confirmed by the Senate.[3] Defense Secretary Mark Esper designated McPherson as Acting Secretary of the Navy on April 7, replacing Thomas Modly who resigned the same day.[5] In relation to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt McPherson and Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday recommended that Brett Crozier be reinstated as the commanding officer of the Roosevelt on April 25, 2020.[12]


McPherson is a recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medal.[6]

Personal life

He and his wife Jennifer are married and have two adult children.[13]


  1. ^ a b Register of commissioned and warrant officers of the United States Navy and reserve officers on active duty (1985)
  2. ^ California Birth Index
  3. ^ a b Kimmons, Sean (April 1, 2020). "McPherson officially sworn in as undersecretary of the Army". Army News Service. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "UNDER SECRETARY OF THE ARMY - James E. McPherson". U.S. Army. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Martinez, Luis (April 7, 2020). "Acting Navy secretary resigns after carrier remarks, Esper names replacement". ABC News. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c US Navy - JAG (2004). "James McPherson Bio". US Navy. Archived from the original (.doc) on December 8, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2008.
  7. ^ Nakano, Rina (April 8, 2020). "San Diego native appointed as acting Navy Secretary". ABC 10 News San Diego. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  8. ^ "Rear Admiral James E. McPherson". United States Navy. 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2008.
  9. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts". whitehouse.gov. October 13, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2019 – via National Archives.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "PN1097 — James E. McPherson — Department of Defense". United States Congress. 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  11. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Post". whitehouse.gov. December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019 – via National Archives.
  12. ^ Cooper, Helene; Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff (April 24, 2020). "Navy Leaders Recommend Reinstating Roosevelt Captain Fired Over Virus Warning". SF Gate.
  13. ^ James E. McPherson - General Counsel of the Army

Media related to James E. McPherson at Wikimedia Commons

Military offices Preceded byMichael Franklin Lohr Judge Advocate General of the Navy 2004–2006 Succeeded byBruce E. MacDonald Government offices Preceded byEarl G. MatthewsActing General Counsel of the Army 2018–2020 Succeeded byMichele Pearce Political offices Preceded byRyan McCarthy United States Under Secretary of the Army 2019–2021Acting: 2019–2020 Succeeded byChristopher LowmanActing Preceded byThomas ModlyActing United States Secretary of the NavyActing 2020 Succeeded byKenneth Braithwaite