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Mr. Kendall is managing partner of Renaissance Strategic Advisors, a consulting firm “focused on the global defense, homeland security and commercial aerospace market,” according to the company’s Web site,

The White House announcement of Mr. Kendall’s nomination said that for the past decade, he “had been a consultant to defense industry firms, nonprofit research organizations and the Department of Defense in the areas of strategic planning, engineering management and technology assessment.”

He also worked as a lawyer, primarily on a pro bono basis, on human rights issues. He was an observer at a military prison at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Human Rights First, and has served on the board of directors for Amnesty International USA.

Mr. Kendall served in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 as assistant deputy undersecretary for strategic systems and from 1989 to 1994 as director of tactical warfare programs. He also was vice president of engineering at Raytheon from 1994 to 1996.

“The United States of America has the most well-equipped military in the world, but I believe we can do much better at equipping and sustaining our forces,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing last month.

His ties to the defense industry never surfaced when senators questioned him, and he won praise from both political parties.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who criticized Mr. Lynn’s appointment, said Mr. Kendall brought “broad experience” as a former active duty Army officer, as a Pentagon acquisition official and in the private sector. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan Democrat and chairman of the committee, said Mr. Kendall had a “distinguishing background.”

Mr. Kendall isn’t alone among Mr. Obama’s nominees to keep his client list partly confidential.

Paul M. Fishman, recently sworn in as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, withheld the identities of 37 clients, saying they were involved in grand jury or other secret investigations.

A White House spokesman said Mr. Fishman would recuse himself from cases involving his former clients, even if the clients’ identities remain confidential.