Pentagon policy chief Michele Flournoy, above, will step down in early 2012, according to a Defense Department official. (File photo / Getty Images)
Michèle Flournoy, the Pentagon's policy chief, will step down early next year, according to a Defense Department official.
Flournoy, whose name has been mentioned by defense insiders as a candidate to become defense secretary, will step down in February, the official said. She has been the highest ranking female political appointee at the Pentagon since her confirmation in February 2009, soon after President Obama took office.
As undersecretary of defense for policy, Flournoy has played a key role in DoD's comprehensive strategy review that will determine the future shape of the military, which is facing a $450 billion cut to planned spending over the next decade.
Flournoy was considered a frontrunner for the Pentagon No. 2 civilian position following the July resignation of then-Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. That job eventually went to Ashton Carter, who was serving as DoD's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics at the time.
Flournoy http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/12/ap-military-michele-flournoy-stepping-down-pentagon-121211/">told The Associated Press in an interview she is stepping down to "rebalance" her personal life.