Sharon E. Burke was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs on June 25, 2010.
As the Assistant Secretary, Ms. Burke is the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on operational energy security and reports to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. She is the inaugural Assistant Secretary for the office, which was created to strengthen the energy security of U.S. military operations. The mission of the office is to help the military services and combatant commands improve military capabilities, cut costs, and lower operational and strategic risk through better energy accounting, planning, management, and innovation. Operational energy, or the energy required to train, move, and sustain forces, weapons, and equipment for military operations, accounted for 75 percent of all energy used by the Department of Defense in 2009.
Prior to her appointment at the Department of Defense, Ms. Burke was a Vice President and Senior Fellow at the non-partisan and independent Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a defense policy think tank. At CNAS, Ms. Burke directed research on energy security and initiated the Natural Security Program, which looked at the national security implications of global natural resources challenges.
Ms. Burke has extensive previous U.S. government service. She served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State, a Country Director in the Department of Defense's Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and a speechwriter to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Secretary of Defense William Cohen. She started her career in the Energy and Materials program of the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, contributing to a multi-year study of energy in developing countries.
First joining the Department of Defense as a Presidential Management Fellow, Ms. Burke has received medals for Exceptional Public Service from the Department of Defense and the Superior Honor Award from the Department of State. She has served on the Leadership Team of the American Assembly's Next Generation Project, as the Director of the National Security Project at Third Way, as the Middle East Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, and is the author of numerous reports, including A Strategy for American Power: Energy, Climate, and National Security.
Ms. Burke graduated from Williams College and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, where she focused on international energy policy and earned a Certificate of Middle Eastern Studies. At Columbia, she also was a Zuckerman Fellow, an International Fellow, and a recipient of a Foreign Language and Areas Studies grant for Arabic.