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Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Drastic shake-up at Pentagon unlikely

May 30, 2001

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— The secretive policy reviews that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld undertook three months ago to begin modernizing the military are likely to result in less radical change than commonly believed, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"I think there was a widespread perception that there would be many more near-term announcements of dramatic change than what we're actually going to see," Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said.

In fact there have been no dramatic changes yet. Even for one of President Bush's highest national security priorities missile defense Rumsfeld has yet to come up with specific program changes.

Rumsfeld on Tuesday held the first in a series of meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to approach yet another major review of the military. The quadrennial defense review, or QDR, is required by law and is due to Congress by Sept. 30.

The last QDR, in 1997, was based on a strategy that Bush has criticized for getting the U.S. military involved in too many peacekeeping and other noncombat missions. Bush directed Rumsfeld to come up with another strategy, but so far the defense secretary has not said publicly what it will be.

Adding to the uncertainty is the Democratic takeover of the Senate, although Rumsfeld said last week he saw no reason to expect that the shift in political power would necessarily affect his relations with Congress.

Quigley said the policy reviews Rumsfeld requested shortly after he took office in January are now largely done. Most will not result in published papers but were meant to "stimulate his thinking" on important topics, such as the proper size of the military and other subjects to be studied in the QDR.

Quigley said Rumsfeld has not yet presented President Bush with a final version of his defense strategy, nor has Rumsfeld decided what portions of the various policy reviews will be made public, or when.

"I don't think the secretary has a complete understanding in his own mind of how he wants to fold all the parts together," the spokesman said.

Quigley was asked whether Rumsfeld had, in effect, scaled back the size of his expectations for shaking up the Pentagon. "As time has passed and the studies have matured and his thinking has matured, I think he has a better understanding, but he was never on much of a timetable."

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