- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld responded yesterday to anonymous criticism that he is rude to subordinates by saying he is in charge at the Pentagon.
"The Constitution calls for civilian control of this department," Mr. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press conference. "And I'm a civilian."
Mr. Rumsfeld was reacting to a reporter's assertion that he sometimes treated officers and civilian workers roughly.
The Washington Times last week obtained a copy of a confidential memorandum from Mr. Rumsfeld to a top aide. In it, the defense secretary criticized strategies produced by the Joint Staff, the military research arm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"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," Mr. Rumsfeld wrote in the Jan. 3 memo. "We ought to get our arms around them, compare them with what we put out overall and get a single [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."
Mr. Rumsfeld made no apologies yesterday. He said he sometimes sends back reports as many as seven times before accepting them.
"I have received on occasion from people military and civilian work that I was not impressed with, and have indicated that," he said. "And there have been times when I've sent things back six, seven times.
"Why? Well, because it strikes me that it's terribly important that we do things well and we do them right. And I have sent things back on the civilian side, and I have sent things back on the military side. And I will keep right on doing it."
The Times quoted two Pentagon employees as saying the memo revealed the secretary's true feelings about their work.
"It's an indication of what he really thinks of us and the work we do and the quality of it," said one employee, who asked not to be identified.
Another employee said that, by law and regulation, the Joint Staff is required to produce reports, analyses and strategies. Some reports are for the chairman so he can better advise the defense secretary and the president. Others are required by Congress.
Mr. Rumsfeld said, "It's no fun for somebody to have their work sent back four or five times, six times, seven times, and if that disturbs people, and their sensitivities are such that it bothers them, I'm sorry. But that's life, because this stuff we're doing is important. We're going to get it done well. We're going to get it done right."
Mr. Rumsfeld displays an aggressive management style, a trait that endears him to the rank and file but offends some who come into regular contact with him. He has chastised officials at briefings for not writing or speaking in what he considers clear English.
His supporters say Mr. Rumsfeld's direct approach suits the times. The Pentagon is dealing with a war on terrorism, planning for a war with Iraq and making an overall transformation challenges that they say require a strong leader.
As part of transformation, the defense chief is looking for ways to reduce headquarters staff and may consolidate jobs in the Joint Staff and his office.
"We have done so much in the last two years," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "And it doesn't happen by standing around with your finger in your ear hoping everyone thinks that that's nice."
Mr. Rumsfeld rebutted periodic news reports that he did not consult often with the six-member Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chiefs are composed of the four service heads, a vice chairman and the chairman. Mr. Rumsfeld said he has met with the full chiefs or a lesser number every other week during the past two years.
Standing beside him yesterday was Gen. Richard B. Myers, the Joint Chiefs chairman, who readily agreed.
"I would tell you if [Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman] or I were asked to spend any more time with the secretary, and if he consulted any more often, we'd have to start going home with him at night."


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