Revised Pecking Order

President Obama on Monday signed an executive order that restores the Army, Navy, and Air Force Secretaries to the second, third, and fourth positions, respectively, behind the deputy defense secretary in the Pentagon’s order of leadership succession. (White House release) In that descending order, one of these officials would assume the leadership role at the Pentagon should the Defense Secretary be unable to perform the duties of office for whatever reason. The President’s action revokes Executive Order 13394 of December 2005 that placed the undersecretaries of defense for intelligence, policy, and acquisition, respectively, ahead of the service Secretaries in the leadership chain.