No. 2 Defense official to step down

Laura Rozen

Less than a week after Leon Panetta started as Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon's low-profile number 2, Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn, says he plans to step down from the job, but has agreed to stay on until a successor is appointed, the Associated Press' Robert Burns reports:

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in an Associated Press interview that he told Panetta last Friday, on Panetta's first day as Pentagon chief, that he planned to resign for personal reasons.

"I thought this was a logical point for me to depart the Pentagon," Lynn said during the interview in his office.

He said he told Panetta that he would be best served by having a deputy who was willing to stay at least through President Barack Obama's first term, which ends in January 2013. ...

Lynn said he was leaving for "personal, family reasons," and wanted to spend more time with his children. He said it had nothing to do with Obama's choice of CIA director Panetta to succeed Robert Gates. Lynn said he knew Panetta only slightly from periodic contact while both served in the Clinton administration. [...]

Panetta's chief spokesman, Doug Wilson, said Panetta has begun a search for a deputy. Wilson said it was possible that a nomination could come by the end of the summer.

A former Pentagon comptroller and Raytheon executive, Lynn has focused on budgets, and other close-in management tasks of the enormous agency, while also tending to more specialized issues, such as cybersecurity.

It's not clear if the former CIA chief Panetta--himself a former head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)--will want a deputy who has similar budget-crunching skills.

One obvious potential candidate to succeed Lynn: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, who has frequently served as a critical DoD point person at committee meetings among inter-agency National Security Council deputies.