The United States Secretary of Defense is the head of the Department of Defense. The current Secretary of Defense is James Mattis, who was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and approved by the US Senate on January 20, 2017.
The Secretary of Defense position was created in 1947 by President Harry S Truman along with the creation of the National Military Establishment (which became the DoD in 1949), which replaced the Secretary and Department of War. James Forrestal was appointed as the first Secretary of Defense.
The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the President and is responsible for the formulation of general defense policy and policy related to all matters of direct and primary concern to the DoD, and for the execution of approved policy. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense.
Partial list of secretaries
|Secretaries of Defense|
|Donald Rumsfeld||January 20, 2001||December 18, 2006|
|Robert Gates||December 18, 2006||July 11, 2011|
|Leon Panetta||July 11, 2011||February 27, 2013|
|Chuck Hagel||February 27, 2013||February 17, 2015|
|Ashton Carter||February 17, 2015||January 20, 2017|
|James Mattis||January 20, 2017||Incumbent|