Former Heritage Defense Staffer Becomes Top Pentagon Space Secretary


Former Heritage Defense Staffer Becomes Top Pentagon Space Secretary

September 3rd, 2020

Justin Johnson, former senior policy analyst for Defense Budgeting Policy, at a Heritage Foundation event.

Justin T. Johnson, a former Heritage defense policy analyst and Senior Aide to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, was recently promoted to become the Pentagon's top space policy official. Johnson now acts as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, replacing his predecessor Stephen L. Kitay.

Before his current placement at the Pentagon, Johnson served under Defense Secretary and former Heritage Chief of Staff Mark Esper as his Deputy Chief of Staff. In that role, Johnson advised Esper on defense policy including budget, reform, and management.

While at Heritage, Johnson specialized in defense budgets and policies at the Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy. He contributed research to numerous reports related to defense spending and budgeting, most notably the 2018 edition of Heritage’s annual Blueprint for Balance. The report provided detailed recommendations to strengthen America’s economy, society, and defense through the budget process.

Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation, commented on the promotion saying:

“While at Heritage, Justin handled the defense budget portfolio, analyzing defense spending and related budget issues, how Congress would or should respond to budget requests from the military services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and making recommendations for prioritization of defense budget matters by the Obama Administration. Johnson is an affable fellow, very sharp intellectually, and politically astute. He is always collegial in his dealings with others and has repeatedly proven himself to be dependable and effective as a policy assistant, analyst, and key advisor to senior decision makers. We should expect that he will continue to be effective in his new role shaping policy that affects the nation’s newest military service.”