Rumsfeld's Revolution at Defense

Light, P.C.
Brookings Institution, Policy Brief #142, July,

Whatever his legacy as an architect of the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already earned a place in American bureaucratic history as one of its most ambitious organizational reformers. Rumsfeld is determined to complete a top to bottom overhaul of his department before he leaves office. Rumsfeld may be one of history's most ambitious reformers, but his actual impact is far from assured. He still faces intense resistance from the armed services, especially the Army, which has the most to lose in the movement to a much lighter military. And many of his proposals are either still under consideration in Congress or only in the early stages of implementation in the department. This is very much Rumsfeld's revolution to win or lose it is highly dependent upon his congressional support, which has ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of war, on the urgency of the war on terrorism, which continues to fade with memories of September 11, and on his relationship with the armed services, which has been shaken by the controversy surrounding the equipping of U.S. troops in Iraq. It also depends on his public reputation, which has dropped in the wake of the prison abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. In October 2001, for example, the Harris Poll reported that 78 percent of Americans rated Rumsfeld's job performance as excellent or pretty good; by June 2005, the percentage had fallen to just 42 percent.

Wagner Faculty