Why you should care
Because protection is a tough job. And these personalities have the mettle to meet their matches.
One Friday afternoon last August, some Norwegian cab riders were surprised when their trips through Oslo turned into a discourse on everything from education policy to corporate governance — with their sitting prime minister. As part of a campaign stunt during his Labour Party’s bid for re-election, then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg picked up unsuspecting denizens for a quick (and surreptitiously videotaped) chat about the state of the country. The video reveals this calm and serious pol’s surprisingly affable touch with the common man (and woman). The fresh and funny back-and-forth didn’t help Stoltenberg at the polls, but his people skills should come in handy in his newest gig, as the leader of NATO, where he’ll have to woo not only officials across Europe, but also that most hard-bitten of all politicians, Vladimir Putin.
Badass doesn’t necessarily mean kicking down doors or even just breaking those tired old glass ceilings. It’s some combo of the two, all done while having seven kids, maintaining great hair and foaming at the mouth to become (maybe?) Germany’s next chancellor. For now, Ursula von der Leyen is sitting pretty in the post of defense minister. She’s Merkel’s most forward-looking female promotion to date, and the move is being heralded not just because she is the first woman in the role, but also because it may well signify Germany’s future.
Despite a series of female secretaries of state and national security advisers, no U.S. president has ever appointed a woman as secretary of defense. Could that happen in our lifetime? American defense experts say it’s not a question of a lack of talent — there are plenty of women in government now or in the recent past who have served in high-ranking security roles. Many such women have proven their mettle as policy experts and administrators, as well as their ability to navigate D.C politics. So if presidents won’t pick them, we will. OZY takes a look at a few up-and-coming women in the defense and homeland security world who make up a strong U.S. bench of female security players that a president could one day tap to lead the Defense Department.