08 Nov 06. The Wall Street Journal has reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years as secretary of defense, Republican officials said Wednesday. Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, would succeed Mr. Rumsfeld.
The news came just hours after the Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats and as signs were pointing to a possible shift in control of the Senate as well. Democrats in the House and Senate urged President Bush anew to fire Mr. Rumsfeld — a prospect Mr. Bush had previously flatly rejected.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become the next speaker of the House, didn’t mention Mr. Rumsfeld’s name but called for “change the civilian leadership of the Pentagon.”
“That would signal an openness to new fresh ideas on the subject,” she told reporters, adding that she would discuss the matter with Mr. Bush at a lunch on Thursday.
Said newly re-elected Sen. Joseph Lieberman, suggesting how Mr. Bush might dismiss his defense secretary: “Thanks Don, you’ve served the country but really we need somebody new there.”
Mr. Lieberman bolted the Democratic Party to run for another term as an independent, handily defeating the party’s choice, Ned Lamont. The Connecticut senator now stands to be a significant power broker when the new Senate convenes in January.
The power shift in Tuesday’s midterm elections sharply changes the relationship between Mr. Bush and Congress on a variety of fronts, from the war in Iraq to his warrantless domestic surveillance of suspected terrorists.
Last week, as he campaigned to save the Republican majority, Mr. Bush declared that Mr. Rumsfeld would remain at the Pentagon through the end of his term. Mr. Rumsfeld, 74, was in his second tour of duty as defense chief. He first held the job a generation ago, when he was appointed by President Ford.
Mr. Gates is the president of Texas A&M University and a close friend of the Bush family. He served as CIA director for Mr. Bush’s father from 1991 until 1993. Mr. Gates first joined the CIA in 1966 and served in the intelligence community for more than a quarter century, under six presidents. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
Comment: The Democrats are well known for defense cuts but these are unlikely in the near to medium term given the reset and armoring programs taking place as a result of huge equipment usage in Iraq and Afghanistan and the requirement for extra armored protection. In the medium to longer term the big ticket items such as FCS, JTRS and JSF are likely to be cut, slimmed down or delayed affecting the larger Corporations such as Boeing, GD and Lockheed Martin. In the future a less aggressive foreign policy is likely with more U.S. protectionism and thus keeping the missile defense programs. With this added protectionism expect Europe to take up some of the slack in world policing a development which will only mean an increase in European defense budgets at a time when social and health issues are taking prime positions particularly in the U.K. where Gordon Brown will not want to be seen as encouraging large out-of-area operations such as Afghanistan and Iraq and will concentrate on issues such as Africa. Will this put the CVF Programme in jeopardy and cause a rethink in developing new maritime systems and ships such as an improved HMS Ocean which can deploy the European Rapid Reaction Force with large helicopter support and Harrier GR9s?