Perry, William James, 1927–, U.S. government official, b. Vandergrift, Pa. A Ph.D. in mathematics, former Stanford engineering professor, and founder of a military electronics firm, he served (1977–81) as defense undersecretary for research and development during the Carter administration. Appointed deputy defense secretary by President Bill Clinton in 1993, he became defense secretary in 1994. In office, he favored the "force multiplier" philosophy of military action, holding that high-technology weaponry can overcome superior numbers on the battlefield. He retired from defense department in 1997 and returned to a professorship at Stanford. For the remainder of the Clinton administration, Perry performed brief diplomatic missions for the government, and in 1999 he acted as U.S. policy coordinator for North Korea and visited that nation. In 2006 he served as a member of the Iraq Study Group.
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