List of United States Secretaries of Defense by time in office

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2,595 days
Robert McNamara from 1961 to 1968
114 days
Elliot Richardson in 1973

This is a list of United States Secretaries of Defense by time in office. This is based on the difference between dates; if counted by number of calendar days all the figures would be one greater. (Note that the list of popes by length of reign uses numbers of calendar days.)

Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld are the only two people to have served as Secretary of Defense for more than 7 years. Rumsfeld is the only Secretary of Defense to have served two non-consecutive terms. Elliot Richardson served as Secretary of Defense for less than four months before becoming Attorney General.

# in office Secretary Days Rank
08 Macnamara, RobertRobert McNamara 2,595 1
13/21 Rumsfeld, DonaldDonald Rumsfeld 2,585 2
15 Weinberger, CasparCaspar Weinberger 2,497 3
05 Wilson, Charles ErwinCharles Erwin Wilson 1,714 4
22 Gates, RobertRobert Gates 1,655 5
10 Laird, Melvin R.Melvin R. Laird 1,468 6
14 Brown, HaroldHarold Brown 1,460 7
20 Cohen, WilliamWilliam Cohen 1,457 8
17 Cheney, DickDick Cheney 1,401 9
19 Perry, WilliamWilliam Perry 1,085 10
12 Schlesinger, James R.James R. Schlesinger 870 11
06 Macelroy, Neil H.Neil H. McElroy 783 12
24 Hagel, ChuckChuck Hagel 720 13
25 Carter, AshtonAshton Carter 702 14
23 Panetta, LeonLeon Panetta 606 15
01 Forrestal, JamesJames Forrestal 558 16
02 Johnson, Louis A.Louis A. Johnson 540 17
04 Lovett, Robert A.Robert A. Lovett 491 18
16 Carlucci, FrankFrank Carlucci 424 19
07 Gates, Thomas S.Thomas S. Gates, Jr. 415 20
18 Aspin, LesLes Aspin 378 21
03 Marshall, GeorgeGeorge Marshall 356 22
09 Clifford, Clark M.Clark M. Clifford 325 23
26 Mattis, JamesJames Mattis 247 24
11 Richardson, ElliotElliot Richardson 114 25

See also[edit]