Bush's re-election not expected to spark major changes at the Pentagon
November 5, 2004
ARLINGTON, Va. — With President Bush’s re-election, the plans and programs of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, notably transformation of the military and the strategy in Iraq, are expected to go forward.
Rumsfeld, at 72, is “very energetic” and has goals he still wants to accomplish, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told Stars and Stripes.
“As far as bringing this department into the 21st century [through] transformation, I think we are closer to the beginning than to the end,” Di Rita said.
Rumsfeld will stay for at least another year in order to see through two of his key undertakings: transformation and the war in Iraq, according to Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the think tank Lexington Institute in Alexandria, Va.
“Most people around Rumsfeld say if [he is] asked, he’s willing to stay on for a substantial period of time. The biggest reason is transformation of the military, which is only partially complete, and feels that it is his legacy as secretary. That’s something he wants to see through to fruition,” Thompson said.
“And people around Rumsfeld say he believes the strategy in Iraq is going to work if given more time, and [he] wants to stick around to prove he was right.”
The war in Iraq will dominate foreign policy as the White House seeks to stabilize and secure the country, bring in a self-governing body, boost the economy and then bring home the U.S. troops, Di Rita said. There is no time line and progress will be dictated by circumstances and quashing insurgents, he said.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in the middle of his second two-year term and plans to serve out the remainder of the appointment, which ends Sept. 30, 2005. Typically, chairmen serve only the two two-year terms, an official said.
Some officials are expecting personnel turnover, including the top civilian service chiefs.
The Army’s stand-in secretary for the past 18 months, Deputy Army Secretary Les Brownlee, was not nominated for the top spot.
The White House’s nomination went to Francis Harvey, who since January 1999 had served as director of the federal contractor Duratek Inc., was former chief operating officer of Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s Industries and Technology Group, and has served on board companies controlled by the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm with close ties to the Bush family.
His confirmation was stalled in the Senate following his Oct. 6 hearing, but is scheduled to be the first order of business when the Senate reconvenes Nov. 16.
Harvey faced criticism during the hearing from Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Armed Services Committee, over boosting troop strength, which Reed favors. Harvey was noncommittal during the hearing.
Harvey was nominated Sept. 14, nearly five months after former Secretary Thomas White abruptly resigned in April after repeated sparring with Rumsfeld. But the process was bumpy. The first nominee, Air Force Secretary James Roche, withdrew his nomination because of controversy over plans to lease Boeing refueling tankers.
Roche also has faced controversy and friction with top leadership, but wants to serve at the will of the president, said Lt. Col. Will Nichols, his spokesman.
“He’s taking a wait-and-see approach at what plans the administration has.”
Navy Secretary Gordon England remains happy to serve as the Navy’s top civilian leader, said his spokesman, Capt. Kevin Wensing.
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark, was confirmed by the Senate on July 8 for a two-year term. Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. John Jumper, is slated to leave his job in September after completing the allotted four-year term. Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker took the reins in August 2003.