WASHINGTON--The Obama administration is planning to name Robert Work, a retired U.S. Marine and a former top Navy official, to serve as the deputy defense secretary, the No. 2 job at the Pentagon, a U.S. official said.
The White House is expected to announce the nomination Wednesday. Christine Fox has been serving as acting deputy defense secretary since Ashton Carter stepped down in December.
Mr. Work served 27 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a colonel in 2001. He became undersecretary of the Navy in 2009, serving as a civilian until he left last year.
The deputy Defense secretary, also a civilian post, oversees the business of the Pentagon, shepherding decisions on weapons programs and overseeing budget work. Mr. Work's impending nomination was first reported Tuesday by Bloomberg News.
If confirmed by the Senate as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's deputy, Mr. Work would have to contend with reduced defense budgets in coming years, but has had relevant experience from his previous posts, defense analysts said.
Tom Donnelly, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said Mr. Work's experience in the Pentagon gives him the background to tackle the budget problems.
"He brings continuity, he was there before," Mr. Donnelly said. "They have had trouble filling spots with experienced people."
As undersecretary of the Navy, Mr. Work was a key backer of the Littoral Combat Ship program, which has confronted a series of problems related to rising costs. Some lawmakers have questioned the usefulness of the ship in combat.
Ms. Fox, as acting deputy defense secretary, has recommended reducing the number of littoral combat ships being purchased. Officials have said they expect the defense budget set to be unveiled next month would cut the planned number of ships from 52 to 32.
In a confirmation hearing, Mr. Work would likely be asked to defend a sharp reduction in a program he had championed.
After stepping down from the Navy, Mr. Work took over as the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank that is generally supportive of the Obama administration.