WASHINGTON -- A former enlisted Soldier and retired Navy lawyer was officially sworn in as the Army’s undersecretary March 26 after being confirmed by the Senate.
James E. McPherson, who had served as the Army’s general counsel since January 2019, had also been in an acting role as the No. 2 civilian official since July when Ryan D. McCarthy left the post to become secretary of the Army.
In a letter to the force, McPherson said it was an “honor of a lifetime” to serve as the 34th undersecretary of the Army.
“You make America's Army the strongest and best in the world,” he wrote after being sworn in. “Thank you for your dedication to our Army and service to our nation. I look forward to the privilege of serving alongside you on the Army team.”
As undersecretary, McPherson is the secretary’s senior civilian assistant and principal adviser on matters related to the management and operation of the Army, as well as the effective organization of business operations and transformation initiatives.
During his confirmation hearing in January, McPherson said that if confirmed he would focus on ways to stem suicide, sexual assault/harassment and domestic violence among the ranks as well as improve family housing.
Touching on the Army's People Strategy, McPherson, who once served as a military policeman, said the service is a "people business" and its greatest strength are its Soldiers, families, civilians and Soldiers for life.
"This philosophy has been a critical driver to numerous initiatives directed at improving the quality of life for our people," he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill.
In his letter, he also noted the current issues with the COVID-19 outbreak and urged Soldiers to take care of themselves and to help stem the spread of the virus.
“Today, with the extraordinary challenges posed by COVID-19, the nation once again needs you during this time of crisis,” he wrote. “Your service is vital to the Army's role in defeating this virus. Protect yourselves and your families so you can protect the nation.”
In addition to its COVID-19 response, he wrote the Army’s top priorities still remain readiness, modernization and reform.
“As we aggressively execute our modernization strategy, we will maintain a sustainable level of readiness to meet the current operational requirements,” he wrote.
During his hearing, McPherson touted new technology, including the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a battlefield heads-up display that is on a fast track to be fielded next fiscal year.
After he saw a demonstration of it in December at Fort Pickett, Virginia, he called the collaboration between acquisition and requirements teams, the vendor and Soldiers who tested the goggles a "tremendous step in the right direction."
Even as the Army rolls out new gear, he said its people, though, will be the keystone in making its efforts a reality.
“Priorities may shift, but our principles, and our people, define us,” he wrote in his letter. “Take care of your people.”