Defense vs. State
Defense officials say the State Department is quietly trying to take back new Pentagon authori- ties that were expanded under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld involving support for foreign militaries, something Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England are not opposing.
In particular, State’s bureau of political military affairs wants to restore its past level of control over the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, a key strategic tool for supporting allies.
“State wants to go back to the good old days of them running everything with FMF and ending Rumsfeld innovations, including the ‘train and equip’ program for allies,” one official said.
The power struggle is triggering a major fight on Capitol Hill led by pro-State Department staff members who are working to “turn the clock” back and give the State Department the lead authority in identifying which foreign allies to help and how much.
Further concerns among conservatives about the liberal Democratic bent of the Pentagon were highlighted by the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s first public speech to the Democrat-dominated Center for New American Security, founded by Clinton administration defense officials Kurt Campbell and Michele Flournoy.
The Oct. 25 speech by Adm. Michael Mullen followed Mr. Gates’ appointment of Clinton administration Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, prompting insiders to speculate that Mr. Gates is following the example of former CIA Director George J. Tenet in seeking to become a “holdover” in an anticipated Democratic administration.