- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday he is not bothered by a rash of criticism over his eight-month stewardship of the Pentagon.
"I'm sure there is some static in the system," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters shortly before leaving for a weeklong vacation. "There always has been in bureaucracies. Down six, eight, 10 layers, people are going to be unhappy about this one day, and unhappy about that another day."
Asked how he took media criticism, including an op-ed column that called him "Rip Van Rummy," Mr. Rumsfeld replied, "With good humor." He displayed that trait, saying, "You know, it takes a certain perspective for a person to characterize 25 years in the private sector as a nap."
Mr. Rumsfeld has been pummeled publicly by some in the media, and criticized privately by some fellow Republicans, for overseeing a review of U.S. military strategy that they claim has been a dud.
Republicans say he has mismanaged relations with Congress early on by adopting a "who needs them" approach. The press writes that Mr. Rumsfeld and top military officers are in a standoff over the future shape of the 1.37 million armed forces. The standoff, they say, promises to produce a status quo strategy review, not the far-reaching transformation promised by President Bush.
Mr. Rumsfeld, a wealthy former chief executive officer who is fond of saying he doesn't need his current job, scoffs at the flak. He suggests his critics do not understand the Pentagon's complicated process for creating strategies and the budget to match them.
"I must say I have to agree with people that it's complicated," he said. "I have to agree that it's hard. And I have to agree that a paradigm shift tends not to be instantaneously understood."
Mr. Rumsfeld spoke at the Pentagon the day before he was was to travel to Mr. Bush's Texas ranch to brief the president on the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), due for completion Sept. 30. The defense secretary will later travel to his New Mexico ranch for a vacation.
In Crawford, Texas, Mr. Bush is expected to name Gen. Richard B. Myers as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Myers, a career Air Force fighter pilot, is the current vice chairman, and has been the military point man on creating a new QDR acceptable to Mr. Rumsfeld and the service chiefs.
On that topic, Mr. Rumsfeld said he and the service chiefs have agreed on a general framework for the Defense Planning Guidance. The document dictates the general shape of the defense budget and whose directives will be fed into the QDR. He said it is now up to the service chiefs and secretaries to report back on how they will carry out the guidance and what trade-offs they want to make.
Mr. Rumsfeld's staff has pressed the service leaders to agree to cuts in force structures (Army divisions, Air Force squadrons, Navy carriers) to free up money to buy new weapons. The chiefs resisted, asking where the reciprocal decreases in worldwide commitments were for a military already stretched thin. The staff subsequently revised the planning guidance more to the services' liking.
"The idea that we have gone from telling the services what to do down to telling the services 'do anything you want' reflects an inability to understand nuance," Mr. Rumsfeld said yesterday.
Making the process more difficult is reduced federal revenue resulting from a slowed economy and Mr. Bush's tax cut.
Mr. Rumsfeld refused to speculate on whether the process would result in troop cuts.
"We may calibrate somewhat on the priorities and constraints that we put in," he said. "If we think that it causes an effect that is undesirable, we may quibble and argue about whether or not we think that the trade-off that the service is recommending … is one we think fits with the whole."


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