Robert Wilkie

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Robert L. Wilkie
Rwilkie DoD.jpg
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs
In office
September 30, 2006 – January 19, 2009
President George W. Bush
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Dan Stanley
Personal details
Born Fayetteville, North Carolina
Political party Republican
Profession Lawyer
Religion Anglican

Robert Leon Wilkie is an American lawyer who serves as Senior Advisor to U.S. Senator Thom Tillis.[1] He previously served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs and at engineering consultant CH2M Hill. An intelligence officer in the United States Naval Reserve, he was nominated for his Department of Defense position by U.S. President George W. Bush on June 20, 2006, and his appointment was approved by the Senate on September 30, 2006. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and two children.

Early life and education[edit]

Wilkie was born in Frankfurt West Germany, and attended Fayetteville North Carolina's Reid Ross Senior High School. As the son of an Army Artillery officer, he grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He received his bachelor's degree from the Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He went on to receive his law degree from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans in 1988 and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C..

Government career[edit]

Prior to being named assistant secretary, Wilkie served as special assistant to the President for national security affairs and a senior director of the National Security Council where he was a senior policy advisor to then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as well as her successor, Stephen Hadley. Mr. Wilkie developed strategic planning for the implementation of the Moscow Treaty, the Millennium Challenge Account, Iraqi Reconstruction and NATO Expansion.[2] In 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates awarded him the Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian award of the Department.[citation needed]

He began his professional career on Capitol Hill as Counsel to Jesse Helms, and later served as legislative director for Rep. David Funderburk of North Carolina. He was assigned to the Committee on International Relations and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 1997, he began service as counsel and advisor on international security affairs to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.


Wilkie gained attention for outlining guidelines that restricted congressional testimony to high-ranking officers and civilians appointed by President Bush. Several congressional officials accused Wilkie of preventing military's lower ranks to testify, which were more likely to give Congress an honest opinion opposed to higher ranks that sided with the administration.[3]

According to a Boston Globe article, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress saw this as a "blatant attempt to bog down investigations of the war". In addition, there was an argument that the Pentagon had no authority to set those rules.[3] The controversy involved one subcommittee and Wilkie argued on behalf of the Pentagon that the enlisted soldiers who were the target of the subcomittee's investigation had to be given the opportunity to avail themselves of counsel. Once there was a change in the subcommittee's leadership, the Pentagon reached an accommodation which gave the subcommittee access to the soldiers.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Senator Tillis Announces Legislative Team
  2. ^ OSD/LA Staff
  3. ^ a b Bender, Bryan (May 10, 2007). "Pentagon restricting testimony in Congress". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 

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