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How Kathleen Hicks will approach nukes, shipbuilding and the budget

WASHINGTON — Following a smooth confirmation hearing, it appears Kathleen Hicks is headed to the Pentagon.

As had been expected, Hicks, the nominee to be deputy secretary of defense for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, received little in the way of pushback from senators. A significant number of them — including outgoing Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and his successor, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. — indicated they would support her nomination out of the committee.

The hearing, which lasted more than three hours, gave insight into how Hicks would approach a number of key issues for the Defense Department if she arrives in office.

Hicks is open to changing budget traditions to drive joint activity. It is commonly accepted in defense circles that the Pentagon’s budget will be flat at best, if not declining, in the coming years. That led to a number of questions from senators about how to drive reforms and find savings for the department.

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