THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND ADMIRAL BOB INMAN IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF ADMIRAL INMAN'S APPOINTMENT AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
The Rose Garden
1:33 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday I announced that Secretary Aspin would be stepping down as Secretary of Defense next month after a year of devoted service. I want to stress again how deeply grateful I am on behalf of all Americans for his hard work and his many unique contributions to the Pentagon and to our national defense.
To ensure the greatest possible continuity, I wanted to announced a successor as soon as possible. So today, I am very pleased to announce my intent to nominate Admiral Bob Inman as the next Secretary of Defense.
Admiral Inman was one of our nation's highest-ranking and most respected military officers. He was a four-star admiral whose career in the Navy and in our intelligence community and in private business has won him praise from both Democrats and Republicans who admire his intellect, his integrity and his leadership ability.
The Admiral's experience in serving our nation is truly impressive. He personally briefed Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. He held senior positions under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger called Admiral Inman "a national asset." And I know he will be a national asset as Secretary of Defense.
He brings to this job the kind of character all Americans respect. The son of a gas station owner in a small east Texas town, he rose to distinction and success on the basis of his brains, his talent, and his hard work. He finished high school at 15, graduated from college at 19, joined the Naval Reserve at 20, and then launched an impressive 31-year career in the Navy. He served on an aircraft carrier, two cruisers and a destroyer, as well as on onshore assignments as an analyst for naval intelligence.
In 1976, at the age of 45, he became the youngest Vice Admiral in peacetime history. Bob Inman's stellar intelligence work caught the attention of many military and civilian leaders and prompted his elevation to several high posts in the intelligence community. He served as Vice Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the National Security Agency, and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Because of his outstanding service, he was awarded the National Security Medal by President Carter.
Over the past decade since Admiral Inman left government, he served in a wide range of private sector positions, including CEO of two private sector electronics firms, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and a teacher at his alma mater, the University of Texas. He's also served on 11 non-for-profit
corporate boards. And in all these roles, Admiral Inman has established a reputation for penetrating analysis, strong leadership, and a rock-solid commitment to this nation's security. Those qualities will serve our nation well as the Admiral becomes our next Secretary of Defense.
This is a time of great change in our world. We must build on the work Les Aspin began with a bottom-up review to ensure that we have the right forces and strategy for this new era. We must ensure that, even as we reduce force levels, our military remains ready to fight and win on a moment's notice. We must ensure that our men and women in uniform remain the best trained, the best equipped, the best prepared fighting force on Earth. And we must maintain and build strong bipartisan support in the Congress and in the country for the foreign policy and national defense interests of our nation.
I am confident that Admiral Inman is the right leader to meet these demanding challenges. I am grateful that he's agreed to make the personal sacrifices necessary to return to full-time government service and to accept this important assignment at this pivotal time in world events. I'm delighted that he will be joining our national security team, and I thank him for his service to the nation.
ADMIRAL INMAN: Thank you, Mr. President. You do me great honor with this appointment. Notwithstanding all the wonderful things you said, I am an imperfect human being who has been provided many wonderful opportunities, none quite yet of the status of this. I've not done all of them as well as I would like, but I've always worked hard at them, and I will work hard at this one.
As you know, I did not seek the job. In honesty, I did not want the job. Ultimately, you would ask, then, why am I here? Duty and country. I was persuaded from our lengthy conversations of the President's absolute commitment to build a strong bipartisan support for where this country needs to go in the years out ahead. I would tell you up front, honestly, I did not vote for President Clinton, I voted for President Bush, even though I was mad at him about his handling of the economy, but because I considered him a personal friend. The President did know that when he asked me to take this job.
I look forward to the challenges that are in front of us. I particularly look forward to working with the senior members of the national security team. Warren Christopher I consider an old friend and someone I enjoy working with, but I greatly admire. Tony Lake is a new acquaintance to me, but in these very few short days, it's been a great start.
But ultimately, the key to my being willing to do this, to give up a very happy and prosperous life, was the President's commitment and our interaction. I had to be comfortable that he was persuaded I was the right choice for this time frame.
And, Mr. President, as you know, I had to reach a level of comfort that we could work together, that I would be very comfortable in your role as the Commander in Chief -- President -- while I was Secretary of Defense. And I have found that level of comfort.
As I look at the challenges in front of us the road ahead is already pretty well mapped. I've had the privilege of knowing Les Aspin for more than 15 years. He is truly one of the great intellects in this country. From the first meeting, he's always been challenging what was the best approach to national security for this country. I'm persuaded that the work he's done over these last 11 months will make it vastly easier for his successor, but it won't be an easy job.
As I try to describe myself, I'm an operator, hopefully with a strategic view. I would hope in the years ahead to focus on an area that may surprise you -- I've noted the media coverage this morning has focused almost entirely on my intelligence background. In these last 10 years I've learned a lot about how business works, and I would hope to spend a lot of my time on bringing best business practices to the Department of Defense.
My sense in traveling the country is that the public is less concerned about what we're doing overseas or our commitments than whether we are getting a dollar value for a dollar spent in defense. And I would hope at the end of our years working together, we will have persuaded them, Mr. President, that they are. And I would hope to ensure that we practice standards of ethics and integrity in the Department of Defense that will be a beacon for the rest of government.
Finally, to my many friends in the media, both here and around the country, there have been at my last count some 82 calls last night and this morning for interviews. If we are going to build a bipartisan support for national security, it has to begin with establishing the best relationship with the Congress. I will be deeply respectful of the Senate's approach to the confirmation process. I believe, therefore, it will be wisest if I limit my public remarks on issues until the confirmation process is through, and then I will try to be as available to all of you in the future as I have been in the past.
Thank you very much. And thank you, Mr. President, for your confidence.
END1:41 P.M. EST