Brett M. Holmgren to be Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR)

13 GoingOn 14: Help Keep the Blog Going For 2021 — GFM:


On March 26, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Brett M. Holmgren to serve as  Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR). The WH released the following brief bio:

Brett M. Holmgren served as the Deputy for Nominations for the Biden-Harris Transition Team, and as Co-Chair of the Intelligence Working Group for Biden for President.  Earlier, Holmgren was Vice President for Technology Risk Management at Capital One Financial.  Prior to that, he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, where he also previously served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.  Earlier, Holmgren was Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and a political analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.  Holmgren began his government service as a counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency.   Holmgren is the recipient of numerous performance awards, including the Director of National Intelligence Superior Service Award, the Central Intelligence Agency Director’s award, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree, summa cum laude, from Johns Hopkins University.

According to, on Oct 10, 1957, the Department of State elevated the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary for Intelligence and Research to that of Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, with rank equivalent to that of an Assistant Secretary of State. Since 1947, the Special Assistant had been in charge of intelligence functions that the Department of State first received after the abolition of the wartime Office of Strategic Services in 1945. An Act of Congress (P.L. 99-93) of Aug 16, 1985, authorized the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. Prior to this date, the Secretary of State designated all Directors of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Since Aug 1986, all incumbents have served as Assistant Secretaries of State and been commissioned by the President.
The most recent career diplomat to head INR was Ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith who served from 2014–2018, and then was sent to oversee the Foreign Service Institute. Ambassador Smith was  INR Assistant Secretary for two years at the end of the Obama administration and two years at the beginning of the Trump administration.
According to AFSA’s appointment tracker, 57.1% of INR appointees were career appointments. Four of the career appointees to INR since 1986, also have the personal rank of career ambassador: Morton Isaac Abramowitz (1985–1989); J. Stapleton Roy (1999–2001); Philip S. Goldberg (2010–2013); and Daniel Bennett Smith (2014–2018).
If confirmed, Mr. Holmgreen would succeed Ellen McCarthy who served at INR from January 2019 until January 2020.
Related post:
March 2019: Secretary Mike Pompeo Swears-In New INR Assistant Secretary Ellen E. McCarthy



Secretary Mike Pompeo Swears-In New INR Assistant Secretary Ellen E. McCarthy

Assistant Secretary McCarthy Delivers Remarks at Her Swearing-in Ceremony Ellen E. McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research delivers remarks at her swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 15, 2019. [State Department photo by Michael Gross/ Public Domain]

Trump Nominates Goldberg, Hale, Sison, and Smith For Personal Rank of Career Ambassador

Posted: 2:45 pm PT


On July 18, President Trump sent the nomination of four career diplomats for the personal rank of Career Ambassador to the U.S. Senate. The nominations have been placed on the Senate Executive Calendar on July 26. As of this writing, the nominations are awaiting full confirmation by the U.S. Senate. We believe these are the first career ambassador nominations made under this administration.

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for the personal rank of Career Ambassador in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period:

  • Philip S. Goldberg, of DC
  • David M. Hale, of NJ
  • Michele Jeanne Sison, of MD
  • Daniel Bennett Smith, of VA

Ambassador Goldberg was recently sent to US Embassy Havana to be its chargé d’affaires (see New head of U.S. embassy in Cuba, Philip Goldberg, faces critical road ahead, Feb 2018).

Ambassador Hale has been nominated as the next Under Secretary for Political Affairs. As of July 30, 2018, the nomination is pending in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ambassador Sison was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti in July 2017. She was confirmed by voice vote on November 2, 2017.

Ambassador Smith is the current Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR). He was confirmed to that position in 2014 and serving in that capacity to-date, presumably pending the confirmation of this successor Ellen E. McCarthy who was nominated on June 18, 2018.  He has been widely rumored as the next Director General of the Foreign Service but no official announcement has been made to date.


Related posts: