The Defense Department’s personnel chief Erin Conaton is taking a medical leave of absence, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement Wednesday.
Conaton, who has served as the undersecretary for personnel and readiness since May, informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and her staff that she would take leave to address a personal health issue, according to the DoD statement.
“Secretary Conaton has been a valued adviser to Secretary Panetta, and he strongly supports her decision to take time to focus on her health,” Little said in the 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.”
Panetta designated Jessica Wright, the assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, to serve as the acting principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in Conaton’s absence.
Obama nominated Conaton, formerly the undersecretary of the Air Force, to serve as the Pentagon’s top manpower official in January. Conaton’s predecessor, a retired Marine major general named Clifford Stanley, resigned last October amid an investigation of mismanagement.