Policy experts named for DoD space, missile defense posts

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David Zikusoka will serve as special assistant at the office of the assistant secretary of defense for space policy. Leonor Tomero will be deputy assistant director for nuclear and missile defense programs.

WASHINGTON — David Zikusoka, aerospace research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, will serve as special assistant at the office of the assistant secretary of defense for space policy, CSBA announced Jan. 20. 

The assistant secretary of defense for space policy is a new post under the undersecretary of defense for policy that Congress directed in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The Biden administration’s nominee for that position will have to be confirmed by the Senate. DoD said this position will provide “civilian oversight of the space enterprise.”

Zikusoka’s research work at CSBA focused on the military applications of space, information technology and cyberspace. Before joining CSBA, Zikusoka was policy director of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a panel directed by Congress to examine the nation’s vulnerability to cyber attacks. 

Biden also named Leonor Tomero deputy assistant director for nuclear and missile defense programs, a position within the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy that does not require Senate confirmation. Tomero was sworn in Jan. 20 at the Pentagon.

Tomero for the past decade served as a senior staff member of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee. She was a key voice in drafting legislative provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act dealing with strategic weapons and military space programs.

DoD overseen by acting secretaries

As soon as President Biden was sworn in on Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that David Norquist assumed the duties of acting secretary of defense until a defense secretary is confirmed. Norquist has served as deputy secretary of defense since July 2019. Biden’s nominee Lloyd Austin is expected to be confirmed as defense secretary in the coming days.

The acting civilian leader for the Air Force and the Space Force is John Roth, who has served as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller since January 2018.