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04 April 2005

White House Moves To Fill Key Defense Positions

Foreign and civil service tapped for Pentagon leadership

Washington -- The White House moved swiftly to fill key vacancies at the Pentagon, including the nomination of Navy Secretary Gordon England as deputy defense secretary to replace Paul Wolfowitz.  Wolfowitz has moved on to head the World Bank.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman has been nominated to fill Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith’s shoes when he departs the administration later this year.

Both positions require the advice and consent of the Senate.

Besides serving as Navy Secretary twice, England has also been the senior civilian defense official in charge of overseeing the Defense Department’s Combatant Status Review Tribunals for enemy prisoners held in U.S. military custody at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station in Cuba.  For England’s official biography see http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/people/secnav/england-bio-73.html.

As a foreign service officer, Edelman has held a variety of key positions such as ambassador to Finland and special adviser to the secretary of state on the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.  He served previously at the Pentagon as assistant deputy under secretary of defense for Soviet and East European affairs.  He holds a doctorate from Yale University and an undergraduate degree from Cornell.  For more on the nominee see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/24997.htm.

The White House also named Anthony Joseph Principi on April 1 to be the chairman of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, otherwise known as BRAC.  The commission will review recommendations from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld beginning in May on U.S. facilities in the continental United States and in other parts of the world that are no longer needed by the military.  Principi served previously as the fourth secretary of veterans affairs.  His unofficial biography is available on the Internet at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Principi.

In September, the commission will send its recommendations to President Bush; he must accept or reject all of them by September 23.  If he accepts all, the decision is sent to Congress for a 45-day review period after which the recommendations become permanent.  Additional information about the commission process and earlier reviews are available on the Internet at http://www.defenselink.mil/brac/.