Officials Promise Seamless Defense Secretary Transition
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2006 DoD personnel will work diligently to ensure a seamless transition between outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Robert M. Gates, Pentagon officials said today.
President Bush accepted Rumsfeld’s resignation yesterday and announced he was appointing Gates to succeed him. DoD personnel will work to ensure that transition goes without a hitch, officials said today. Rumsfeld will remain in the position until the Senate confirms Gates.
Senate officials said it is too early to say when the confirmation hearings will be held.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Rumsfeld remains the defense secretary until replaced. “He is very focused on the duties and responsibilities of the office and will carry out those duties as the president has asked him to do until the transition is completed,” Whitman said.
Whitman said staff members remain focused on the business of the department. “We are engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “We’re in the midst of a budget cycle, so the personnel of the department are going about their business in the serious type of fashion that the American people would expect them to.”
Whitman said the people of DoD understand the importance of the work they do every day and will work to quickly bring Gates up to speed if the Senate confirms him.
There is sadness in the department as Rumsfeld prepares to leave, Whitman said. “Speaking for myself, over this period of time there are many who have worked very closely with Secretary Rumsfeld and have a tremendous amount of respect for what he has accomplished, for what he has done in this department, for the leadership he has given, for what he has taught me and for the way in which he has challenged me -- and many other people here -- intellectually,” Whitman said.
“You can’t just check all those feelings at the door,” he continued. “But you have to, as part of a great institution like this, understand that the work of this department must go on. We cannot afford while we have forces in the field that are fighting this nations wars to miss a heartbeat. And we’re not going to miss a heartbeat. Secretary Rumsfeld would insist on it that way, and he will ensure that it happens that way.”