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Les Aspin

Aspin, Les (Leslie Aspin, Jr.), 1938–95, U.S. politician and government official, b. Milwaukee, Wis. Running as a Democrat opposed to the Vietnam War, he won election as a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin in 1970. Reelected 10 times, he served in the House until 1993. In 1985 he became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and in that position supported many aspects of President Ronald Reagan's military buildup. From 1993 to 1994 Aspin was Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton. He oversaw the easing of restrictions on homosexuals in the military (see gay-rights movement) and expanded the role of women in the armed forces, but ill health and criticism of his management of the Defense Dept. led him to resign.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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