Defense assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs set to leave position

By Georgina DiNardo / April 1, 2024 at 12:21 PM

Daniel Erikson, defense assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, will leave his position, Sasha Baker, acting defense under secretary for policy, said today, adding that James Alverson, currently the principal director for Western Hemisphere affairs, will take over the position as an acting official.

Baker said Erikson, who held the position since March 2021, left his mark on the office through “his strategic vision, the trust and confidence that he built with defense and military partners across the Americas, and his commitment to advancing the U.S. national interest through innovative approaches that transcended traditional bureaucratic barriers.”

Baker thanked Erikson for his “exceptional public service and his lasting contributions” to DOD, citing the National Defense Strategy’s implementation in the Western Hemisphere, furthering climate resiliency efforts, a stronger modernization of regional defenses and a larger emphasis on human rights as examples of his successful work.

“We wish him continued success as he assumes new responsibilities as the Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council,” Baker said.

Baker also said that DOD expresses its “appreciation” to Alverson for stepping in to serve as the acting DASD for Western Hemisphere affairs.

This change in leadership comes amid many policy shop position changes, including the looming planned departure of two of policy’s top officials.

Baker herself plans to resign at the end of April, with Amanda Dory, currently the director of the Africa Center of Strategic Studies at National Defense University, set to resume the role as acting under secretary as Derek Chollet, who was nominated for the post in July, has yet to be confirmed.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that Baker is stepping down to pursue “her next chapter.”

Melissa Dalton, who resumed Mara Karlin’s position performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy in December, is also set to leave the role as she was confirmed by the Senate two weeks ago to be under secretary of the Air Force.