James R. Locher III has more than 25 years of professional experience in both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, and is executive director of the Project on National Security Reform. Locher graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1968, received an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1974, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1992.
Locher began his career in Washington as an executive trainee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Subsequently, he served in the Executive Office of the President as executive secretary of the White House Working Group on Maritime Policy. Returning to the Pentagon, Locher worked in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation. As an operations research analyst in the Mobility Forces and Naval Forces Divisions, he evaluated selected Navy and Marine Corps programs.
In 1978, Locher joined the Senate Committee on Armed Services as a professional staff member. Initially, he served as the senior adviser on international security affairs and force projection programs. In 1985, the committee assigned Locher responsibility for strategy and organization. He directed the bipartisan staff effort that resulted in the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and served as the senior staffer for the special operations and low-intensity conflict reform legislation, known as the Cohen-Nunn Amendment.
President George H. W. Bush appointed Locher to the post of assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict in October 1989. He supervised the special operations and low-intensity conflict activities of the Department of Defense, performed as the principal civilian adviser to the secretary of defense on these matters, and represented the secretary in senior subordinate groups of the National Security Council. He served as assistant secretary throughout the Bush administration and the first five months of the Clinton administration. During the latter period, Locher also served as acting under secretary of defense for policy. Upon leaving government service in June 1993, he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the department’s highest civilian award.
Since 1993, Locher has been consulting, lecturing, and writing. He served as a senior consultant to the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces and as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Task Force on Defense Reform and the National Security Study Group of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. In 1999, Locher joined the board of directors of Power Medical Interventions, a medical device company. Subsequently, he was elected company secretary and later board vice chairman. In 2002, Texas A&M University Press published his book, Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon.
In 2003-04, Locher served as chairman of the Defense Reform Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2005, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded Locher its Medal of Honor for “outstanding service to the United States.”