Little, 41, calls himself an "accidental spokesman." The former Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM consultant joined the government in 2006 at the National Counterterrorism Center, before landing at the CIA, where he eventually became director of public affairs. "That wasn't my career track at all, but I found it to be highly substantive," Little says. When Leon Panetta left as CIA director to become Defense secretary, Little went to the department, too. He manages the 3 million-strong agency's communications and wrangles the "responsibly pesky and also fun" press corps. Little, who oversees a 4,000-person public-affairs apparatus, travels with the secretary on high-profile trips. As the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan and "return[s] to more of a garrison military," reshaping the department's public-affairs mission will be crucial, says Little, who wants to focus more on communicating how budget constraints will affect service members. A Loudoun County, Va., native, he has master's and bachelor's degrees in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in international relations from Georgetown University, where he has also been an adjunct professor. Little's two sons are loyal DOD fans. During one airport trip, Little recalls, "there was a Lego set of Air Force One. My wife said, 'Would you like to buy that? That's the president's plane.' They said, 'No, we want the secretary of Defense's plane.' "