- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday carried his battle to reform the military from the field to the bureaucracy, saying he has ordered commanders to reduce headquarters staff by 15 percent next year.
In a major policy speech festooned with military imagery, the defense secretary began a campaign to rid the Pentagon of overlapping bureaucracies, which he said pose "a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America."
Mr. Rumsfeld, his audience a group of civilian employees who could see their numbers shrink under his plan, said he already has picked targets for possible consolidation: public affairs, legal offices, the commissary system and the personal staffs of the service secretaries and four-star chiefs.
At commands inside and outside Washington, generals and admirals must trim headquarters by 15 percent so more troops will be available at the "teeth" and fewer at the support "tail" of the force.
"Our challenge is to transform not just the way we deter and defend, but the way we conduct our daily business," he said at a ceremony marking the beginning of the department's "acquisition and logistics excellence week." "The modernization of the Department of Defense is a matter of some urgency. In fact, it could be said that it's a matter of life and death, ultimately every American's."
The defense secretary's rhetoric could translate into deep cuts in the department's nearly 700,000 civilian jobs. It would also result in a shift of thousands of military personnel from the "tail" to combat jobs known as the "teeth."
He labeled a too-large bureaucracy a "threat" and an "adversary." But he tried to soothe individual employee fears by saying, "I have no desire to attack the Pentagon. I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself."
Mr. Rumsfeld, a former pharmaceutical company chief executive, took the defense chief's job with orders from President Bush to transform the military to counter 21st-century threats. That effort, the military found out yesterday, is not confined to military operations. Reformers will also scrutinize more mundane tasks, such as buying equipment, issuing legal opinions and moving memos from one office to the next.
On some fronts, the reform movement is already under way. The Pentagon previously has stated it wants Congress to authorize one more round of post-Cold War base closings in hopes of shedding 20 percent of its infrastructure, possibly saving $3 billion annually. It also plans to trim the B-1 bomber fleet by one-third, closing facilities in Georgia and Kansas.
Mr. Rumsfeld has set up a senior executive council (the deputy secretary, acquisition czar and service secretaries) to run the Pentagon more like a business. One of their first tasks is to identify functions that a private company could perform more efficiently than the Pentagon, such as cutting payroll checks.
"Business enterprises die if they fail to adapt," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "And the fact that they can fail and die is what provides the incentive to survive. But governments can't die, so we need to find other incentives for bureaucracy to adapt and improve."
Mr. Rumsfeld said the Navy, Air Force and Army all have separate staffs to support the service secretary and the service uniform chief, even though they work the same issues. Every agency has its own general counsel. "We have so many general counsel officers that we actually have another general counsel's office whose only job is to coordinate all those general counsels," he said.
He also mentioned duplicative offices for public affairs, legislative liaison, commissaries, health care. "I have a strong suspicion that we need fewer than we have, and we're going to take a good hard look and find out," he said.
There have been other full-throttle efforts at reforms, from the Ronald Reagan military buildup to the post-Cold War "revolution in military affairs." Still, the Pentagon today cannot account for all its spare parts and other assets, and takes years to field relatively simple equipment.
"Will this war on bureaucracy succeed where others have failed?" Mr. Rumsfeld said. He predicted it would, adding, "This effort is structurally different from any that preceded it, I suspect. It begins with the personal endorsement, in fact the mandate, of the president."
He said there is no reason the Pentagon cannot save roughly 5 percent of its projected $330 billion budget in fiscal 2002, which begins Oct. 1.
As he spoke, the battle continued in Congress over defense dollars, with some Democrats wanting to trim the request in the wake of reduced surplus projections.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said uncertainty remains on whether Mr. Bush gets the $18.4 billion in defense spending he requested above Congress' 2002 budget resolution. "[The administration] understands that as the budget numbers tight up, that it's going to be tougher to get the defense numbers we need too," he said.


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