Regardless of whether President Obama wins another term in office, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will likely leave her position next January. Here’s a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network listing some of the likely candidates for DHS Secretary.

The Next Homeland Security Secretary

2012 is one of those years in which politics will supersede all other things. The presidential and various congressional primaries, outside interest group ads, robocalls, candidate debates, and lots of talking heads on cable TV, radio, and the blogosphere will saturate us all. Every one of those people will be talking about change in one form or another.

With respect to homeland security, change will also be on the horizon for its leadership. While Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s health seems to be fine and she appears to be in decent political shape (there aren’t rampant calls for her resignation or her being driven from office), the odds are she will leave her post next January regardless of whether her boss, President Barack Obama, is re-elected or not.

As part of a traditional reshuffling that goes on during an administration, most Cabinet secretaries depart after four years in their assigned posts. Napolitano has not said anything publicly about whether she wants to continue in one of the world’s most thankless positions, but four years as Homeland Security secretary is a hell of a run for anyone.

Rumors have long circulated in Washington and elsewhere that the former governor of Arizona has her eyes set on the U.S. attorney general’s position should there be a second Obama administration. Other rumors have her sights set on the Supreme Court or even a potential run for the White House in 2016. Regardless of the fact or fantasy of any of these rumors, it’s worth taking a look at the skills, qualities, and attributes of the next DHS secretary.

It’s not as if there is an easily accessible training camp or series of minor league franchise teams from which a DHS secretary can be easily called up to and put in rotation with the other big league Cabinet members. On the eve of a new administration in 2008, I thought it was fairly easy to assemble a short list of persons who could be the next DHS secretary. I would put these same people on a prospective list of nominees for the position beginning in 2013, but I’ll add a few others to the list as well. Read more.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More