Pentagon personnel chief taking medical leave

The Pentagon’s top manpower official, Erin C. Conaton, is taking a medical leave of absence for "personal health matters", the E-Ring has learned. Conaton, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week she would go on temporary leave. The exact nature of her condition is unknown, but a ...

DOD
DOD
DOD

The Pentagon's top manpower official, Erin C. Conaton, is taking a medical leave of absence for "personal health matters", the E-Ring has learned.

Conaton, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week she would go on temporary leave. The exact nature of her condition is unknown, but a defense official responding to queries said it was not a mental health concern.

Conaton is the senior advisor to Panetta on "all matters concerning recruitment, career development, military health care, and pay and benefits," according to her bio. Prior, she was undersecretary of the Air Force and earlier was staff director of the House Armed Services Committee.

The Pentagon’s top manpower official, Erin C. Conaton, is taking a medical leave of absence for "personal health matters", the E-Ring has learned.

Conaton, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week she would go on temporary leave. The exact nature of her condition is unknown, but a defense official responding to queries said it was not a mental health concern.

Conaton is the senior advisor to Panetta on "all matters concerning recruitment, career development, military health care, and pay and benefits," according to her bio. Prior, she was undersecretary of the Air Force and earlier was staff director of the House Armed Services Committee.

"Secretary Conaton has been a valued advisor to Secretary Panetta, and he strongly supports her decision to take time to focus on her health," Pentagon press secretary George Little said, in a statement.  "Secretary Panetta, and the entire leadership of the Department of Defense, wishes Secretary Conaton a speedy recovery and looks forward to her returning to the Department soon."

Little said Conaton’s post will be manned by Jessica Wright, who was serving as assistant secretary of defense for Reserve affairs but is now acting principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.  Wright is a retired 2-star general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.