Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict

Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD/SOLIC) is the principal civilian advisor to the Secretary of Defense on special operations and low-intensity conflict matters. The ASD (SO/LIC) has as his principal duty overall supervision (to include oversight of policy and resources) of special operations and low-intensity conflict activities. These core tasks, according to USSOCOM's 2007 Posture Statement, include counterterrorism; unconventional warfare; direct action; special reconnaissance; foreign internal defense; civil affairs, information and psychological operations; and counterproliferation of WMD. Section 167 of Title 10 USC provides a very similar but not identical list of SOF activities.

In addition to policy oversight for special operations and stability operations capabilities, the ASD (SO/LIC) has policy oversight for strategic capabilities and force transformation and resources. This includes oversight of capability development to include general-purpose forces, space and information capabilities, nuclear and conventional strike capabilities, and missile defense. As such, ASD (SO/LIC), after the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, will be the principal official charged with oversight over all warfighting capabilities within the senior management of the Department of Defense.


Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC)

Michael Sheehan

Michael D. Lumpkin was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) on December 2, 2013, following his nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate. In his role as Assistant Secretary (SO/LIC), Mr. Lumpkin is the principal advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense on Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. He is responsible primarily for the overall supervision, to include oversight of policy and resources, of special operations and low intensity conflict activities. These activities include: counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, civil affairs, information operations, and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In his role as Assistant Secretary (SO/LIC), Mr. Lumpkin also oversees the Department of Defense counter-narcotics program, building partnership capacity initiatives and humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

Prior to his assuming duties as Assistant Secretary (SO/LIC), Mr. Lumpkin served as a Senior Executive at both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. His previous positions include Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for (SO/LIC), and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Lumpkin has also significant experience in the private sector where he served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Industrial Security Alliance Partners and Executive Director of Business Development at ATI.

Mr. Lumpkin has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a US Navy SEAL where he held every leadership position from platoon commander to Team commanding officer. Mr. Lumpkin has participated in numerous campaigns and contingencies throughout the world to include both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Mr. Lumpkin holds a MA from Naval Postgraduate School in National Security Affairs. He is a recognized subspecialist in Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict

Theresa Whelan, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, currently serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict. Ms Whelan brings over twenty-seven years of experience in the defense intelligence, defense policy and national intelligence communities.

Prior to assuming her current position, Ms Whelan served as the national intelligence officer for Africa on the Director for National Intelligence’s National Intelligence Council. Between 2003-2011, she held three separate deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) positions within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy: DASD, Homeland Defense Domains and Defense Support to Civil Authorities; DASD, Defense Continuity and Crisis Management; and DASD, African Affairs.

In addition to the deputy assistant secretary positions, her other assignments in the Department include Under Secretary of Defense for Policy’s Balkans Task Force, Senior Program Director for the US/South Africa Joint Defense Committee, Countries Director for Southern Africa and West Africa, and African military capabilities analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency covering West, Central and East African countries.

Ms. Whelan has a Master of Arts in national security studies from Georgetown University, a Master of Science in national security strategy from the National War College, and a Bachelor of Arts in international relations with a minor in Russian studies from the College of William and Mary.

Her awards include two Presidential Rank Executive Awards, at the Distinguished and Meritorious levels; two Department of Defense Medals for Distinguished Civilian Service; the American University Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership; the Paul H. Nitze Award for Excellence in International Security Affairs, and the French National Order of Merit.