In 2003, on this day Admiral John Sidney McCain III (retd.) (pictured) was unveiled as the surprise choice of nominee for 19th United States Secretary of the Army.
Poacher Turned Gamekeeper by Ed., H. Torrance Griffin & David AtwellHis predecessor, Brigadier-General Thomas White had resigned the previous May after clashing with his boss over the cancellation of the Army's Crusader artillery project. And in a career-limiting move, White had chosen on principle not to rebuke General Eric Shinseki for his statement to the Senate Armed services committee that it would take "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" to occupy Iraq after invasion.
For this act of defiance, Donald Rumsfeld had insisted upon White's resignation. Due to the complex process of senatorial confirmation, White would be the only man dismissed by Rumsfeld, despite Rummy's long record of firing as Chief Executive Officer, President, and then Chairman of G. D. Searle & Company. In fact Rumsfeld complained to the White House's human resources team about this bureacracy, which caused many senior level appointments at the Pentagon to be vacant for much of the previous decade.
In a stroke of tactical genuis, President George W. Bush turned this complaint into a positive, by confronting one of the principle reasons for the blockage in the Senate, namely the Chair of the Armed Services Committee, John McCain himself. Because McCain had brought the Boeing Leasing Scandal to the public's attention, holding the Administration to account for the "rip-off". Prior to signing a sweatheart deal, on terms she admitted were less than favourable to the American tax-payer, the key Air Force Official overseeing the procurement, Darleen Druyun had been offered a position at Boeing by their Chief Financial Officer, Michael M. Sears. Both were subsequently fired, and the CEO of Boeing, Philip Condit, forced to resign. Rumsfeld blamed the debacle on lack of supervision - in office since 1994, Druyun had four bosses and for six of the ten years no boss at all.
"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things". - Rumsfeld on looting in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, adding "stuff happens"In truth, Rumsfeld was more interested in his transformative agenda, a "small footprint" military with a truly modern, global organisation. He had focused on modularing the US Army into more easily deployable modules, brigade-sized organisations units rather than the less agile divisional groups with their large infrastructures and headquarters. And so when Bush told McCain to "put up or shut up" Rumsfeld accepted McCain's appointment as a "poacher turned gamekeeper".
In office, McCain and Rumsfeld readily agreed a strategy of drawdown, bringing the Iraq Army up to speed to fill the vacuum in Iraq. Neither man would allow the tragic scenes unfolding in Iraq to distract their attention from the primary goal of preparing the Iraqis for their own security. And so it was McCain who took the key decision to countermand CPA Chief Paul Bremer, recalling elements of the Iraqi Army which had disasterously been disbanded by Bremer's Order Number One.
Following the 2004 election, and at his own suggestion, Rumsfeld was charged with broadening his transformative agenda across the whole of US Government, appointed the Head of Homeland Security. With one eye clearly on "2008" McCain accepted the vacant position of Secretary of Defence. Accelerated the withdrawal from Iraq, McCain would beat Hillary Clinton at the polls, being hailed as the hero who "brought the boys home".