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President Names New National Security Team

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 1996 – President Clinton named his national security team for his second term during a White House news conference Dec. 5.

Clinton nominated retiring Republican Maine Sen. William S. Cohen as the next defense secretary and current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine K. Albright as secretary of state. He also nominated current National Security Adviser Anthony Lake as director Central Intelligence and Samuel R. Berger to succeed Lake. Berger is deputy national security adviser.

 

"As we embark upon a new term, our responsibility is to build upon the foundation laid in the last four years, to make sure that as we enter the 21st century America remains the indispensable nation, the world's greatest force for peace and prosperity, freedom and security," Clinton said.

 

Each nominee has "remarkable qualities of intellect, energy and leadership," Clinton said. The new team has "the experience, the judgment and the vision to meet the heavy responsibility and the high privilege of leadership," Clinton said.

 

"All are committed to work together as a team that will rise above partisanship and ... deal with the challenges that we all face," he said. Challenges include terrorism; the spread of weapons of mass destruction; drug trafficking; environmental degradation; ethnic, religious and racial conflicts; and changes in Asia and elsewhere around the globe, he said.

 

"But the opportunities are even greater," Clinton said. He said the team will work with an undivided, democratic Europe. They will build partnership with a democratic Russia and meet the challenges of change in Asia. The team must work to extend peace in the Middle East and in Africa. The team must work to open new markets in Latin America and strengthen the democracies developing there.

 

Clinton commended his outgoing national security team for advancing America's interests and values around the world. "Today, ... our nation is at peace, our economy is strong and we are making real progress at seizing the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the 21st century. These things are due in no small measure to the teamwork, vision and leadership they gave to the American people."

 

Clinton lauded Defense Secretary William J. Perry for doing a "remarkable job preparing America's military for the challenges of the 21st century and running the largest and most complex organization in the nation's government.

 

"The Bottom-up Review he completed has decreased the size of our forces while increasing their readiness, capabilities and technological edge," Clinton said. "From Haiti to Bosnia, from the Persian Gulf to the Taiwan Strait, through Bill Perry's leadership, we have demonstrated that our men and women in uniform remain the best-equipped and the best-trained fighting force in the world ... Today, I want to thank Bill Perry for being one of the finest defense secretaries in the history of the United States."

 

Clinton said Cohen is the right man to build on Perry's achievements. He said the senator from Bangor, Maine, will secure the bipartisan support U.S. armed forces must have and deserve. The president noted Cohen has served in Congress for 24 years, including 18 in the Senate. During his time in Congress, Cohen served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and helped craft the START I arms control treaty with the Soviet Union. He played a key role in legislation that reorganized and strenthened U.S. military command, Clinton said.

 

"I thank Sen. Cohen for his willingness to cross party lines to make sure that America's security is there in the 21st century," Clinton said.

 

Cohen said when he announced his retirement from the Senate in January, he planned to become a private citizen. Only when the president approached him a few weeks ago about Clinton's vision for a bipartisan approach to national security did the 56-year-old senator consider a further role in public service.

 

"My entire congressional career has been devoted to pursuing a national security policy that is without partisanship," Cohen said. "The scenario the president had presented to me was one that I could look forward with great enthusiasm to supporting. I think there is legitimate debate over specific spending issues and other types of programs within our national security apparatus, but our policy at all costs must be unified when it comes down to those crucial moments when the nation is in need."

 

Cohen said he is eager to serve in one of the most demanding positions in our government. Addressing the outgoing defense secretary, Cohen said, "Secretary Perry, I cannot praise you enough. Without question, you have been one of the finest public servants we've ever had in this country. I consider it a distinct honor to be following in your footsteps -- as large as they are."

 

After a year in office as deputy defense secretary and nearly three years as secretary, Perry elected not to serve during the president's second term. He talked about his decision to step down following a speech at a Business Week conference in San Francisco Dec. 4, the day before his successor was named.

 

"It's a damn tough job with enormous pressures," Perry said. Along with the major task of managing the defense department's 3 million people and annual budget of more than $250 billion, Perry said, "there is a unique aspect to the job, which until you've had it, you cannot appreciate it.  

 

"Every week, I sign deployment orders which send our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out to situations in which their lives are at risk," the defense secretary said. "Some of these weeks, some of those soldiers I sent out lose their lives, and I have to tell their families about it and meet with them.

 

"This aspect of the job -- dealing with the use of military force, the risks that our troops face every time they go on a mission, not just a combat mission, but peacekeeping missions have risks involved, too -- this pressure wears on you. Four years is about as long as anyone can take it.

 

"I don't know whether anybody can do this job for eight years," Perry said. "I did my own soul searching about whether I could do this job another four years, and my best judgment on that was no. It's not a job I'd want to try to do for eight years."

 

Perry noted no secretary of defense has successfully served two terms in office. He said two secretaries tried but did not last the second term. Robert S. McNamara served seven years, from 1961 to 1968, and Caspar W. Weinberger served about 6 1/2  years from 1981 to 1987. According to Alfred Goldberg, the Pentagon's chief historian who has interviewed both former secretaries, a combination of reasons led to their departure.

 

Both men were burned out when they left, Goldberg said. "McNamara was in very bad physical and mental state at the time, and apparently President Johnson was willing for him to go," he said. The public reason Weinberger gave for leaving was that his wife was ill. But, Goldberg said, Weinberger had also gotten very tired by then, and he was no longer as politically successful.

 

Goldberg said he believes Perry is "indubitably right" in his decision to step down after one term. He said the 19th defense secretary has traveled more than any previous secretary and to more countries. Perry has traveled more than 650,000 miles to more than 60 countries. He said he has not found traveling tiring, particularly trips to visit troops overseas and in the United States. "I draw a lot of energy and inspiration from being out in the field and meeting with our troops," he said.

 

Topping the list of things Perry said he'd remember and cherish from his term in office is his relationship with senior military leaders and service members.

 

"I am proud of my ability to develop a good working relationship with the senior military leaders so that decisions and recommendations to the President on how to use military force were quite effective," he said. "A surprise to me, was the very warm relationship and bonding I was able to make with our enlisted personnel -- the troops in the field."

 

Perry also said he had a sense of pride on the things he was able to accomplish in the areas of denuclearization and acquisition reform. "I would have like to have START II under my belt before I left," he said. "But I am optimistic it will be ratified."

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