- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Air Force Secretary James Roche resigned yesterday, and the Senate confirmed defense industry executive Francis J. Harvey as secretary of the Army, the service’s top civilian post.

The roll-call vote on Mr. Harvey was 85-12, capping a long, convoluted series of moves that began in May 2003 when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fired Thomas White from the Army secretary job. The defense secretary then asked Mr. Roche to give up his Air Force post to replace Mr. White.

Mr. Roche was nominated for the Army post, but got caught up in a series of conflicts with members of Congress over contracting decisions and other issues. He withdrew his nomination and remained as secretary of the Air Force.

It was widely expected that Mr. Roche would leave the Air Force before President Bush began a second term.

Mr. Roche said, “We have successfully met many pressing national-security issues facing the nation and the Air Force, especially in the global war on terrorism.”

There was no word on a likely successor. The Pentagon said Mr. Roche planned to leave Jan. 20, or sooner in the unlikely event that the Senate confirms a successor by then.

Mr. Harvey was nominated two months ago, but his Senate confirmation vote was put off until after the Nov. 2 elections.

He replaces Mr. White, who was fired by Mr. Rumsfeld on May 9, 2003, after a series of disputes over the scope and pace of the Army’s force modernization.

The Army’s No. 2 civilian official, Les Brownlee, has been serving as the acting Army secretary.

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