White House names Sherwood-Randall new defense/WMD coordinator

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The White House last week named National Security Staff Senior Director for Europe Elizabeth “Liz” Sherwood-Randall as the new coordinator for defense and WMD, as the Back Channel first reported was in the works.

Sherwood-Randall will take up her duties as the first White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Arms Control on April 8, the White House said in a March 19 announcement.

The Back Channel first reported last month that Sherwood-Randall may be tapped to succeed WMD czar Gary Samore, who left the administration in January for the Harvard Belfer Center; and subsequently reported that the defense and WMD portfolios were expected to be combined under the new coordinator position.

“As one of the President’s closest advisors for the past four years, Liz’s leadership and advice have been instrumental as we have successfully strengthened our alliances and partnerships across Europe, helped to revitalize NATO, and worked with Europe to advance the President’s global agenda,” National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said in the White House announcement. “The President will look to her …as we pursue the ambitious goals he set forth in his Prague speech in 2009 and prepare our military to defend the American people and our allies.”

Before joining the Obama White House in 2009, Sherwood-Randall previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia in the Clinton administration, and in posts at Harvard, Stanford, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brookings; as well as a defense policy advisor to then-Senator, now Vice President, Joe Biden.

The White House would not comment on who may succeed Sherwood-Randall as NSS Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia. Among those rumored to be under consideration is US Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan Tina Kaidanow, a former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Ambassador to Kosovo.

(Photo: President Barack Obama, his special assistant on Europe Liz Sherwood-Randall and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, participate in a video teleconference with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, in the Situation Room of the White House, April 12, 2012. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)