U.S. President Barack Obama, (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, (L) applaud as Jeh Johnson (C) the president's nominee to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, finishes his remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House, October 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Department of Homeland Security has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for six weeks. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says the former Pentagon lawyer he's recalling to service to lead the Department of Homeland Security is an outstanding public servant whom he has known and trusted for years.
If confirmed by the Senate, Jeh Johnson would succeed Janet Napolitano, who is now president of the University of California system.
Obama says Johnson has a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States.
The 56-year-old Johnson was the Defense Department's top lawyer in Obama's first term. He returned to private practice last year.
At the Pentagon, Johnson oversaw the increased use of unmanned drone strikes, the revamping of military commission to try terrorism suspects and the repeal of the ban on gays in the military.