James Gerard Roche (born 1939)

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20th United States Secretary of the Air Force

In office

June 1, 2001 – January 20, 2005


George W. Bush

Preceded by

F. Whitten Peters

Succeeded by

Peter B. Teets (Acting)

Personal details


James Gerard Roche

December 16, 1939 (age 80)

New York City, New York, U.S.

Political party



Illinois Institute of Technology (BA)

Naval Postgraduate School (MS)

Harvard University (DBA)

Military service


United States


United States Navy

Years of service


James Gerard Roche (born December 16, 1939) is an American politician. He served as the 20th Secretary of the Air Force, serving from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2005. Prior to serving as secretary, Roche served in the United States Navy for 23 years, and as an executive with Northrop Grumman.



Roche was born in Brooklyn, New York.[1] He served for 23 years in the United States Navy before retiring with the rank of Captain in 1983. As a naval officer, his assignments included Principal Deputy Director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff; Senior Professional Staff Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and assistant director for the Defense Department's Office of Net Assessment. He commanded USS Buchanan, a guided missile destroyer, and was awarded the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for the Navy's most improved combat unit in the Pacific in 1974.

Prior to this appointment, Secretary Roche held several executive positions with Northrop Grumman Corp., including corporate vice president and president, Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector. Prior to joining Northrop Grumman in 1984, he was Democratic Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Secretary of the Air Force[edit]

Secretary Roche served as a member of the Secretary of Defense's Policy Board and was a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Roche was awarded various campaign ribbons and military medals.

Ethics investigation[edit]

Roche was also cited for ethics violations regarding the Air Force's decision to lease KC-767 tanker aircraft.[2]

In 2003, during the Air Force's deliberations concerning the replacement of KC-135 aircraft, Ms. Robin Cleveland, Associate Director of National Security Programs, OMB, emailed Dr. Roche asking his assistance in gaining employment with Northrup Grumman Corporation (for which he had once been a senior executive) after she left her position with the government. Dr. Roche did so and replied to Ms. Cleveland telling her so. This was a DoD ethics violation. The investigation found that Roche had 'misused his office for public gain' and used government communications to do so, but made no recommendations for action.[3]

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw no reason to pursue the matter.


Roche at a Pentagon briefing.

Career chronology[edit]

  • 1960–1983, commissioned United States Navy officer, retiring with the rank of captain

  • 1983–1984, Democratic Staff Director, Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, D.C.

  • 1984–1989, vice president and director, Analysis Center, Northrop Grumman Corp., Washington, D.C.

  • 1989–1991, vice president and special assistant to the chairman, president and chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California

  • 1991–1992, vice president of Advanced Development and Planning, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California

  • 1992–1996, Chief Advanced Development, Planning, and Public Affairs Officer, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, California

  • 1996–2001, corporate vice president and president, Electronic Sensors & Systems Sector, Northrop Grumman Corp., Baltimore, Maryland

  • 2001–2005, Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.

Awards and honors[edit]


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