Mission History

The current office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) grew out of the Research and Development Board formed with the Department of Defense in 1947. Within the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947, the newly established National Military Establishment consisted of the Secretary of Defense, three special assistants and three agencies: the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Munitions Board, and the Research and Development Board. The 1949 Amendments to the National Security Act changed the name of the National Military Establishment to the Department of Defense, added a Deputy Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and converted the special assistants to the title Assistant Secretary of Defense. The two Boards continued.

President Eisenhower's Reorganization Plan No. 6 went into effect in June 1953. The statutory boards and positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense were abolished and functions were transferred to the Secretary of Defense. A General Counsel was established and six new ASDs were added, bringing the total to nine. Two of these ASD positions were predecessors to the ASD(R&E): ASD (Applications Engineering) and ASD (Research and Development). Some time thereafter, the Applications Engineering position became simply Engineering. In March 1957, these two ASDs were combined to become the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering). Under the DoD Reorganization Act of 1958, effective August 6, 1958, the position of ASD (R&E) was abolished and the functions were transferred to the new Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

On October 21, 1977, the DDR&E position was redesignated as the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, but the Military Reform Act of 1986 reestablished the position of DDR&E. On January 7, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act that set forth a number of redesignated positions within the Department of Defense. This included changing the Director, Defense Research and Engineering to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

The ASD(R&E) reports to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and provides the Department strategic guidance and coordination of the S&T investment across the DoD.

Through the Years

1947 - 1953

Chairman, Research & Development Board

Vannevar Bush Sept 30, 1947 - Oct 14, 1948
Karl T. Compton Oct 15, 1948 - Mar 14, 1950
William Webster Mar 15, 1950 - Jul 31, 1951
Walter Whitman Aug 1, 1951 - Jun 29, 1953


1953 - 1957

Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Research and Development)

Donald Quarles Sept 1, 1953 - Aug 14, 1955
Clifford C. Furnas Dec 1, 1955 - Feb 15, 1957

Assistant Secretary of Defense (Applications Engineering)

Frank Newbury Aug 18, 1953 - Mar 17, 1957


1957 - 1958

Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Research and Engineering)

Frank Newbury Mar 18, 1957 - May 17, 1957
Paul D. Foote Sept 10, 1957 - Oct 31, 1958


1958 - 1977

Director, Defense Research & Engineering

Herbert F. York Dec 30, 1958 - Apr 30, 1961
Harold Brown May 8, 1961 - Sept 30, 1965
John S. Foster, Jr. Oct 1, 1965 - Jun 21, 1973
Malcolm Currie Jun 21, 1973 - Jan 20, 1977
William J. Perry Apr 11, 1977 - Oct 21, 1977


1977 - 1986

Under Secretary of Defense for
Research & Engineering

William J. Perry Nov 4, 1977 - Jan 20, 1981
Richard DeLauer May 7, 1981 - Nov 4, 1984
Donald A. Hicks Aug 6, 1985 - Oct 10, 1986


1986 - 2011

Director, Defense Research & Engineering

Robert Duncan Dec 17, 1987 - Nov 30, 1989
Charles Herzfeld Mar 12, 1990 - May 18, 1991
Victor Reis Dec 3, 1991 - May 31, 1993
Anita K. Jones Jun 1, 1993 - May 23, 1997
Hans M. Mark Jul 1, 1998 - May 10, 2001
Ronald M. Sega Aug 14, 2001 - Aug 3, 2005
John J. Young, Jr. Nov 2, 2005 - Jun 2008


2011 - Present

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering

Zachary J. Lemnios
Jul 2, 2009 - November 30,2012

Dept of Defense US Air Force OASAALT RDECOM ONR NRL US Air Force Joint Chiefs of Staff Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Force Health Protection & Readiness Defense Threat Reduction Agency Missile Defense Agency Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Chemical & Biological Defense Program