- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

From combined dispatches

Army Secretary Thomas White, who has been at odds with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about modernizing the Army, resigned yesterday without providing a reason.

In a brief statement, Mr. Rumsfeld thanked Mr. White for his service as the Army's top civilian leader for the past two years. The Defense Department did not detail Mr. White's reasons for resigning and said a departure date had not been determined.

Mr. White became engaged in a public dispute with Mr. Rumsfeld last year about the defense secretary's proposal to cancel the Crusader artillery project, which Mr. White said was vital to the Army's future. Mr. Rumsfeld canceled the program.

Mr. White, a career Army officer who retired as a brigadier general, also became embroiled in a controversy about his former role as a vice chairman for Houston-based Enron Corp., which filed for one of the biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history in December 2001.

Mr. White did not divest himself of Enron shares as quickly as he promised the Senate during his confirmation hearings. As a result, the Senate Armed Services Committee publicly rebuked him.

Speculation that Mr. White would leave his post has circulated widely for many months, but there appeared to be no recent event nor conflict that prompted him to submit his resignation yesterday, one senior official said.

President Bush named Mr. White the 18th Army secretary in May 2001. The Army secretary's responsibilities by law are for all matters relating to Army personnel, Reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons-systems development and financial management.

None of the three service secretaries is in the military chain of command.

One person mentioned as a replacement is Tillie Fowler, who served four terms in Congress as a Florida Republican, from 1993 to 2001, and became the then-highest ranking woman in the House leadership.

Now a Washington lawyer, Miss Fowler serves on Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon on strategic issues.

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