- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a private memo to his top aide, criticized the Joint Chiefs of Staff for generating unnecessary and poorly prepared strategies.

"It is just a lot of people spinning their wheels, doing things we probably have to edit and improve," Mr. Rumsfeld states in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Rumsfeld also takes the nation's highest ranking military officers to task for thinking they need a document "put out on vision, strategies and all that stuff."

Col. Jay DeFrank, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "We are not going to comment on personal correspondence between the secretary and a member of his staff."

The memo is a rare inside look at the defense secretary's direct management style, an acerbic approach that has offended both uniformed officers and civilian policy-makers.

The one-page memo is also one more volley in Mr. Rumsfeld's continuing war on the Pentagon bureaucracy. Overall, he wants to eliminate duplication of work produced by his own civilian staff (Office of the Secretary of Defense) and the Joint Staff, the planning arm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and its chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.

But some staffers are taking Mr. Rumsfeld's memo as an insult. They say the Joint Staff works hard to produce papers so that Gen. Myers can better advise Mr. Rumsfeld and President Bush on everything from the size of the force to a war with Iraq.

"It's an indication of what he really thinks of us and the work we do and the quality of it," said one Pentagon worker, who asked not to be identified.

Mr. Rumsfeld's Jan. 3 memo went to his top assistant, Larry Di Rita. It asked him to compile a list of the reports produced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff.

The defense secretary wrote:

"Please pull together a list of all of those documents we talked about yesterday that the Joint Staff, the Chairman and the Vice Chairman seemed to think they have to put out on vision, strategies and all that stuff.

"We ought to get our arms around them, compare them with what we put out overall and get a single DoD [Department of Defense] document rather than a Joint Staff document. It is just a lot of people spinning their wheels doing things we probably have to edit and improve. Thanks."

Another Pentagon worker said the Joint Staff is required by law or regulation to produce periodic reports on a number of issues, such as personnel, force structure, roles and missions, and pay and benefits. Also, Congress' four committees that deal with military matters also require reports and certifications, some of which must be done by the Joint Chiefs.

The Pentagon official said the real complaint should be filed with Congress, not the Joint Chiefs.

"The Joint Staff is there to enable the chairman to fill his statutory role," the worker said.

Mr. Rumsfeld, a former Navy pilot and prominent corporate official, often gets things done by issuing a stream of memos dubbed "snowflakes."

The Times reported last year that morale has sunk in the Pentagon's policy shop under the weight of scores of "snowflakes" demanding various position papers.

Despite his style, Mr. Rumsfeld has many supporters in the officer corps who think he is the right man at the right time to run the military as it fights one war against al Qaeda terrorists and is preparing for another one against Iraq.

Still, the secretary's brash style has gotten him into trouble.

He apologized this week for any offense taken by Vietnam War veterans from a remark he made that appeared to disparage draftees of the 1960s and '70s.

The governments of Germany and France got upset on Wednesday, after Mr. Rumsfeld referred to those nations as "old Europe" in answering a question about Iraq policy.

Asked if the 70-year-old secretary planned to apologize, Col. DeFrank, the Pentagon spokesman, said, "At his age, the secretary considers 'old' a term of endearment."


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