WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama has changed the order of succession for temporarily replacing the Secretary of Defense should he or his deputy be unable to serve. The March 1 executive order erases former President George W. Bush’s choice to list the positions of three cronies of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in 2005, instead of using the historical secretaries of the armed forces.
Bush’s Under Secretaries of Defense for Intelligence, for Policy, and for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, have been switched out for the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in the order of succession.
The Secretary of Defense is considered one of the four most important Cabinet members, and he and the President together have sole authority to launch strategic nuclear weapons.
The Secretary of Defense also is sixth in the presidential line of succession, after the Secretaries of State and Treasury.