WASHINGTON– Each U.S. military service secretary has agreed to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ request to stay in office for at least several weeks to help ensure the Defense Department’s smooth transition under the Obama administration, Pentagon officials said recently.

“They have been asked and have agreed to serve for some time as the new administration works on identifying individuals to fill those positions,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told American Forces Press Service yesterday.

Navy Capt. Beci Brenton, a spokeswoman for Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter, said “he has agreed to stay until March 13 or until he is relieved prior to that date.”

Winter became the 74th Navy secretary in January 2006. Before swearing into office, he was a corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector.

Army Secretary Pete Geren and Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley have not announced a timeline for their stay, but Army and Air Force officials today confirmed both secretaries’ willingness to continue serving in their positions until their successors are named and confirmed by Senate.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Gates in service to our soldiers and their families, and working with the transition team to ensure an orderly transition to the new administration,” Geren said in a recent statement, adding that his work with the men and women of the U.S. Army is “truly the privilege of a lifetime.”

Geren became the acting Army secretary in March 2007 and was confirmed by the Senate as the Army’s 20th secretary the following July. Geren also has held the Army’s No. 2 civilian leader position, serving as its undersecretary from February 2006 until he assumed top responsibilities. Before that, he served six months as the acting Air Force secretary.

Donley was sworn into office in October 2008. Prior to becoming the 22nd Air Force secretary, he served as the Defense Department’s director of administration and management. He was responsible for the department’s organizational and management planning.

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