18th Secretary of Defense of the United States, sworn in by Bill Clinton, January 21, 1993

born July 21, 1938
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

died May 21, 1995 (stroke)
Washington, DC


Political Positions

Social Issues

The social issues to be addressed during his stand as Defense Secretary were many, including the issue of gays in the armed services and the role of women in combat. His answers to these issues satisfied few.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy did little to further the cause of ending discrimination against homosexuals, one of the many promises made by Clinton during his campaign. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy stated that a service person would not be discriminated against or denied enlistment for their sexual orientation and prohibits the use of military investigations to determine the sexual preferences of those in the military. however, it left in place old rules which allow for a person to removed from service for taking part in acts of homosexuality (on or off base).

In regards to women in combat roles, Aspin revised military policies to allow women to compete for roles in combat aircraft and to open more naval ships to women. Some don't think this was enough of an inroad for women, and some think it was too much. All in all, few were satisfied.


On December 15, 1993, Bill Clinton made official the resignation of Les Aspin, Jr. as Secretary of Defense. The reason for his resignation were given as "personal". Some believe that he stepped down due to his health problems and some think he was asked to step down by President Clinton due to his failure to act on issues in somalia (Aspin turned down General Colin Powell's request for tanks and military vehicles to help stop a civil war in somalia. shortly after this refusal, 18 US soldiers were killed and 3 US helicopters were shot down). Aspin stayed in office until February 3, 1994, when William J. Perry was sworn in.

Just under a year later, Aspin died shortly after having a stroke at Georgetown University Hospital.

references: www.defenselink.mil, www.brittanica.com, www.biography.com