Robert Gates Begins Axing Rumsfeld’s Men

Donald Rumsfeld is still US secretary of defense and running the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and on global terror. Robert Gates has not yet been confirmed by congress as his successor. Yet the nominee is not waiting to take his seat in the secretary’s office before applying a large broom to the Pentagon, a sign of impatience which has not gone down well in many parts of Washington.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports that Gates’ minions have been calling Rumsfeld’s top advisers and informing them the new man expects their resignations to be handed in without delay, because he would like them to be gone when he takes office.

These notices have been delivered, according to our sources in the US capital, to:

Jack Bell, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense

Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence

Eric Edelman, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Peter W. Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

When these top officials asked whether it would not be more advisable for them to stay on for an orderly handover to their replacements, they were told brusquely that Gates would like them to vacate their offices with all possible speed.

Our sources add that Rodman, one of outgoing defense secretary’s closest aides, wasted no time and removed himself from his Pentagon office.

Washington insiders see Gates as acting not only to assert himself as the new boss of the Pentagon but also to quarantine Rumsfeld by sweeping out his loyalists in the weeks left him to serve as defense secretary.

Rumor mills are working overtime on the team Gates means to install in their place. They are expected to be drawn from the circle centering on Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to three presidents. Some sources say the team will be handpicked by Scowcroft, James Baker, the former secretary of state and current leader of the Iraq Study Group, and Frank Carlucci, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. This trio will also decide on their functions under the new defense secretary.

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