Christine Fox, mathematician, weapons specialist, and analyst, was just appointed acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, and while she’s only set to fill the post until a permanent successor is named, it still makes her the highest ranking female Department of Defense employee in history.
With a masters in applied mathematics and experience in both overseeing and evaluating the work of operatives in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is glad to have her:
She helped identify the challenges, choices, and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty. She will be able to help me shape our priorities from Day One because she knows the intricacies of the department’s budget, programs and global operations better than anyone.
“Period of unprecedented budget uncertainty” is not so uncertainly code for this year’s sequester, but eclipsing budgetary worries is Fox’s bigger claim to fame. Blockbuster movies are, of course, a lot more entertaining and fun than trying to make sense of the sequester.
Back in the 80s, when women in the DoD were still so scarce that hearing heels walking down the hall meant you probably already knew who it was, Fox was introduced to Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who were then in the process of figuring out what kind of character to use as a love interest in their upcoming project Top Gun. As CNN tells it, Charlie (played by Kelly McGillis in the film) is not exactly a biographical character. But it’s clear that Simpson and Buckheimer were inspired by a very intelligent woman able to command respect in a predominantly male, macho work force.