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Dr. George E. Little to become Pentagon Press Secretary

I am excited to report that my dear friend, George Little, is being named Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense/Press Secretary! Politico reports:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce today that two well-known and respected communications veterans will serve as spokesmen for Panetta and for the Department, and will join the Office of Public Affairs as top deputies to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson. Capt. John Kirby, currently Special Assistant for Public Affairs for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will become Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense/Spokesman and Director of Media Operations. George Little, who served as Director of Public Affairs during Panetta’s tenure as CIA Director, will become Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense/Press Secretary. This will be a different model than under Secretary Gates, and will give Panetta military and civilian communications expertise across a full spectrum of military and national security issues. Wilson, who helped put this plan together, will remain the Department’s senior communicator and communications strategist. Little and Kirby will rotate podium duty, with Wilson occasionally pitching in. Little starts at the Pentagon today; Kirby will begin his transition in August.

–Capt. John Kirby has served as the spokesman and senior communications strategist for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October 2007. A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Kirby graduated from the University of South Florida in 1985 with a B.A. in History, working part-time in the Sports Department of the St. Petersburg Times. He received his Navy commission in September 1986. He and his wife, Donna, have a daughter and a son.

–George Little was appointed Director of Public Affairs at the CIA in October, and began at the CIA in April 2007 as Chief of Media Relations. From 2005-2007, he worked in the NCTC’s Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning. He received his Ph.D. in International Relations from Georgetown. His wife, Bethany Little, is Chief Education Counsel for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. They have two young sons.

–George Little’s farewell to Langley: “As of [today], Jennifer Youngblood, my deputy and one of the Agency’s most talented and skilled officers, will be Acting Director of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs. Since she came to Public Affairs late last year, Jennifer and I have been through quite a lot together–most notably, answering your questions on events in a little town called Abbottabad. I will miss working with her as I will with Marie Harf, Preston Golson–smart and effective spokespeople–and all my OPA colleagues. This is a small team that does a magnificent job–and they will do it, and do it probably even better, without having Little to work with.”

Many, many congrats to George! We have been most fortunate in the past to have George as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Law, Science and Global Security and as a practitioner faculty member at Georgetown.

From a personal perspective, it was my honor to serve as his dissertation mentor and have him as my outstanding teaching assistant.  And it was a particularly special honor and privilege to preside over his marriage to Bethany! I know George will excel in this new position!

UPDATE: The official Department of Defense Press Release can be found here.

(HT on the Politico article– Robert J. Lieber)


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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.