U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has declared war, not on a foreign adversary, but on the Pentagon bureaucracy.
In a Pentagon speech, Mr. Rumsfeld warned Monday of an adversary who he said poses a serious threat to the security of the United States. He said it is not the former Soviet Union nor any decrepit dictator. "This adversary is closer to home," he warned. "It is the Pentagon bureaucracy - not the people, but the processes; not the civilians, but the systems; not the men and women in uniform, but the uniformity of thought and action we impose upon them."
Mr. Rumsfeld lashed out against costly bureaucratic waste which he said was depriving the nation's combat forces of the funds they need for weapons and missions. "In this building, despite this era of scarce resources taxed by mounting threats, money disappears into duplicative duties and bloated bureaucracy - not because of greed, but gridlock," the secretary said. "Innovation is stifled, not by ill intent, but by institutional inertia."
The Defense Secretary stressed the need for military base closings, an idea that has already run into opposition in the U.S. Congress. He also proposed streamlining finance and procurement systems and the consolidation or elimination of duplicate defense jobs.
He said transforming the bureaucracy was just as important as the Bush administration's efforts to transform the military itself to meet new 21st century threats.
There are some 2.7 million uniformed military personnel, both active duty and reserve. In addition, the Pentagon employs some 700,000 civilians to support the armed services.