Robert O. Work

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Robert Work
Robert O. Work DoD photo.jpg
32nd United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Assumed office
May 1, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Christine Fox (Acting)
United States Undersecretary of the Navy
In office
May 19, 2009 – March 22, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Dionel Aviles
Succeeded by Robert Martinage Acting
Personal details
Born Robert Orton Work
(1953-01-17) January 17, 1953 (age 62)
Charlotte, North Carolina[1]
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Illinois
University of Southern California
Naval Postgraduate School
Johns Hopkins University
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1974-2001
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel

Robert Orton Work (born January 17, 1953)[2] is a United States national security professional who serves as the current United States Deputy Secretary of Defense. Prior to that, Work was the United States Under Secretary of the Navy from May 19, 2009 to March 22, 2013.[3]


Work attended the University of Illinois and earned a B.S. in Biology. Work later earned an M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California; an M.S. in Space System Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School; and a master's degree in International Policy from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Work's military service began while he was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, where he was a member of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of the United States Marine Corps in September 1974.

Work spent 27 years in the Marines, holding a variety of positions. He commanded an artillery battery, then an artillery battalion. He rose to become base commander of Camp Fuji; the first head of the Marine Corps' Strategic Initiatives Group, a small analytical group that provided advice directly to the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and, in his highest military posting, as Military Assistant and Special Aide to United States Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig. Work's rank when he retired from the Marines in 2001 was Colonel.

He joined the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) as a senior fellow for maritime affairs. He later became the CSBA's vice president for strategic studies. He also took a position as an adjunct professor at George Washington University, teaching defense analysis and roles and missions of the armed forces. During this period, Work wrote and spoke extensively on naval and marine strategy. He also directed and analyzed war games for the Office of Net Assessment and for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He participated in the Quadrennial Defense Review in 2006. Work's work has focused on defense strategy; proposals to restructure the Department of Defense; and maritime affairs.

During the presidential transition of Barack Obama, Work was a member of the Department of Defense Transition Team, focusing on the transition at the United States Department of the Navy. President Barack Obama nominated Work as Under Secretary of the Navy and Work was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 19, 2009.

Work has criticized former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for assuming that the United States would always have an advantage in guided weapons and, as such, be able to quickly defeat any foe.[4]

In July 2011, Work called into question the Navy's plans for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, asking if the numbers or types could be reduced in favor of more unmanned systems.[5]

In 2012, after submitting a budget request that reduced submarine construction, Work said that only a submarine could operate in the Taiwan Strait during a conflict with China.[6][7]

On March 21, 2013, Robert Work was presented with the Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Department of the Navy's highest award for civilians.

In 2013, the Center for a New American Security announced that Work would be their new CEO as of April 22, 2013.[8][9]

On February 7, 2014, President Obama nominated Work to become Deputy Secretary of Defense.[10][11]


Government offices
Preceded by
Ashton Carter
United States Deputy Secretary of Defense