William J. Lynn III

Barack Obama Administration


February 12, 2009–October 5, 2011

William J. Lynn III was sworn in as the 30th Deputy Secretary of Defense on February 12, 2009.

A lawyer by training, Lynn served in both the public and private sectors over the course of his career. Born on January 1, 1954, in Key West, Florida, he graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in 1976, earned a juris doctor from Cornell Law School in 1980 and then a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1982. He served as legislative counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) from 1983 to 1987. He first came to the Department of Defense in 1993 as the Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and also served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) from 1997 to 2001. He was the executive vice president of DFI International (2001–2002) and senior vice president of the Raytheon Company from 2002 until his confirmation as Deputy Secretary of Defense.

During his tenure as Deputy, Lynn led efforts on cybersecurity. On June 23, 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directed the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command to establish a sub-unified command, the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). Lynn worked with military officials to launch the command, and Full Operational Capability (FOC) was achieved on October 31, 2010. In September 2010, in a speech in Brussels, he unveiled the Defense Department’s cybersecurity strategy. He described the plan as having five pillars: cyberspace as the new domain of warfare; aggressive defense against cyberattacks; critical infrastructure safety; collective defense; and maintaining a technological advantage.  He emphasized to NATO the importance of implementing a strategy to guard against cyberattacks. Heeding his advice, NATO devised a plan to protect their data against a security breach. 

He also focused on space and operational energy policies, unveiling the Defense Department’s first ever Operational Energy Policy in June 2011. The strategy sought to improve the Department’s energy use in military operations. In addition, along with then-Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General James Cartwright, Lynn oversaw the Quadrennial Defense Review, the document outlining U.S. strategic and policy objectives prepared every four years.

In July 2011, Lynn announced that he was stepping down as Deputy in order to return to the private sector. He remained at his post, however, until Ashton B. Carter was sworn in as Deputy in October 2011. In 2012, he joined Finmeccanica North America & DRS Technologies, Inc. as chief executive officer.

He was awarded the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of the Navy Distinguished Service Award, and the Department of the Army Distinguished Service Award.