The highest-ranking woman in the history of the Pentagon is stepping down.
“Michèle has been an invaluable advisor to me during my six months as secretary of defense, and has been an outstanding departmental leader for nearly three years at a time of great consequence for our nation’s defense,” Panetta said.
Flournoy will stay on until February.
Flournoy’s departure leaves another key vacancy at the Pentagon, with Ashton Carter becoming deputy defense secretary in October after spending two years as the Pentagon’s top acquisition executive. That post is currently held on an acting basis by Frank Kendall.
Prior to her appointment in 2009, Flournoy co-founded the Center for a New American Security in 2007. Prior to that, she was a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank focusing on foreign and security policy.