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Personnel chief takes leave for health reasons

Oct. 17, 2012 - 04:10PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 17, 2012 - 04:10PM  |  
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The Pentagon's top personnel official is taking a leave of absence for health reasons.

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Erin Conaton, who took office just four months ago, "is going on a temporary leave of absence to address personal health matters," Pentagon spokesman George Little said Wednesday.

For now, Conaton's job will be filled by Jessica Wright, who has been serving as assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. Wright, a retired major general in the Army National Guard, came to the Pentagon earlier this year after serving as Pennsylvania's state adjutant general.

Conaton's leave comes after a spate of turnover in the Personnel and Readiness directorate, which oversees the massive Pentagon personnel apparatus and policies related to recruiting, retention, pay and benefits and more.

Last year, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley resigned from the same post amid staff turmoil and allegations that he was an ineffective manager, neglected programs for wounded warriors and spent lavishly on a new Pentagon conference room.

Little said Panetta "and the entire leadership of the Department of Defense wishes Secretary Conaton a speedy recovery and looks forward to her returning to the department soon," Little said.

Conaton, 42, previously served as undersecretary of the Air Force.

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