Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Turns to Ex-Admiral to Run Defense

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Turns to Ex-Admiral to Run Defense

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton nominated retired Adm. Bobby Ray Inman Thursday to replace Les Aspin as defense secretary. Inman is a well-respected former intelligence official in Republican and Democratic administrations.

"He has established a reputation for penetrating analysis, strong leadership and a rock-solid commitment to this nation," Clinton said in announcing the nomination in the White House Rose Garden.

In a response remarkable for its candor, Inman, 62, said that he had voted for President George Bush in last year's presidential election and that he did not seek or want the Pentagon job. But he said that he took it out of commitment to "duty and country."

Inman told Clinton that he would try to make sure the nation got "a dollar value for a dollar spent in defense" along with standards of integrity "that will be a beacon for the rest of government."

Inman, a former deputy CIA director and National Security Agency chief, is renowned for decisive and intelligent leadership. He said long conversations with Clinton had convinced him of the president's "absolute commitment" to a strong defense.

Inman is the first former career military officer to be appointed defense secretary since Army Gen. George C. Marshall held the job almost a half-century ago in President Harry S Truman's administration.

Inman joins Clinton's foreign policy team at a time when the administration is grappling with such dangerous foreign policy challenges as North Korea's nuclear program and the rise of extreme nationalism in Russia.

"Ultimately the key to my being willing to do this . . . was the president's commitment and our interaction. I had to be comfortable that he was persuaded I was the right choice," Inman said. "And Mr. President, as you know, I had to reach a level of comfort that we could work together."

Clinton made the announcement flanked by an unsmiling Aspin and Inman. Aspin announced his resignation Wednesday, effective Jan. 20, for "personal reasons."

Clinton said he was acting swiftly to "ensure the greatest continuity" at the helm of the nation's armed forces.

"I know he will be a national asset as secretary of defense," Clinton said in reference to Inman. …

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