Rumsfeld Departure RumorsWho knows if they're really true, of course, but apparently Donald Rumsfeld is rumored to be leaving the Defense Department some time after the new year. He's been asked in press conferences in recent months numerous times whether he would be resigning and always said he wasn't going anywhere. But it would make sense for him to resign fairly soon, given that many of his closest colleagues in the DoD have already left. He has reportedly offered his resignation to President Bush a number of times. Maybe if he offers to resign again, the reasons for resignation will be such that the president decides to accept it.
The United Press International makes a passing reference to the Rummy rumors in an interesting analysis of the "bunker buster" bomb, which didn't get any funding in the 2006 Defense Appropriations Bill (see also "Funding Dropped for Nuclear Bunker Buster"). That doesn't mean the bunker buster is gone for good, given that funding for it was cut off last year, too, yet supporters found money for it through the Department of Energy. Here's an except from the article:
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, always an enthusiast for new, high-tech weapons with which U.S. forces can strike first and hardest, was a longtime supporter of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). But at a time when important but immensely costly active ballistic missile defense programs are being developed and deployed on all fronts, and with a serious, unanticipated insurgency continuing to rage in Iraq, cuts had to be made somewhere.
"Two Rumsfeld loyalists have left major positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the past two year -- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of defense for Policy Douglas Feith. A third, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim, left somewhat earlier. And now speculation is swirling in Washington that Rumsfeld's own days in office are numbered and that he might be replaced in the New Year by Gordon England or Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. All this was bad news for the RNEP.
"Also, the Democrats loathed it -- and it was a safer political target to go after than BMD systems. Their position is that RNEP will be costly, there are far more important programs that need to be funded, and conventional munitions will do the job anyway."
Gordon England, who is currently acting deputy secretary of defense, appears to be generally well respected by the defense industry and military officials, though he has spent nine months or so in purgatory as acting deputy secretary because Senators Olypmpa Snowe (R-ME) and Trent Lott (R-MS) have concerns about the Navy's shipbuilding plans. Perhaps the White House and the Defense Department will ring in the new year with an announcement that, with transformation of the military under way and recent elections in Iraq completed, Rumsfeld has declared his work done and is ready for someone else to take over.