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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Rumsfeld cuts Pentagon red tape
US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld plans 'to save the Pentagon from itself'
The US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld has announced plans to introduce major cutbacks in bureaucracy at the Pentagon, in order to save billions of dollars for weapons and operations.

"The adversary is [close] to home. It is the Pentagon bureaucracy," Mr Rumsfeld said in a speech to Pentagon employees.

An institution built with trillions of dollars over decades of time does not turn on a dime. Some say it's like turning a battleship - I suspect it is going to be tougher

Donald Rumsfeld
"In this building, despite the era of scarce resources taxed by mounting threats, the money disappears into duplicate duties, bloated bureaucracies - not because of greed but because of gridlock."

The US Department of Defence has 1.4 million men and women on active duty, another million in the National Guard and reserves and about 660,000 civilian employees.

Possible to save $18bn

Mr Rumsfeld provided no precise figures on the potential job cuts, but said the staff of military headquarters would be reduced by 15% within a year.

He also made it clear that jobs would be cut among civilian employees worldwide.

Mr Rumsfeld said he believed it would be possible to save as much as $18bn a year in the military.

The US defence establishment
Budget of over $300bn
1.4 million people in active duty and a million in the National Guard and reserves
660,000 civilian employees
20% to 25% more base infrastructure than necessary, at an annual waste of $3bn to $4bn
$2.3 trillion in transactions that cannot be tracked
Dozens of different technological systems, making information sharing impossible
"If we can save just 5% of one year's budget - and I have never seen an organisation that couldn't save 5% - we would free up some $15 billion to $18 billion to be transferred from bureaucracy to the battlefield - from tail to tooth," he said.

But the secretary conceded that it might take years to reform the system.

"An institution built with trillions of dollars over decades of time does not turn on a dime. Some say it's like turning a battleship. I suspect it is going to be tougher," he said.

"But here's the upside. In an institution of this size, a very little bit of change goes a very long way," he added.

Among other things, Mr Rumsfeld suggested consolidating the staffs of the civilian and military chiefs of services, and for the services to combine public affairs and legislative affairs functions.

"Currently the departments of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy operate separate and parallel staffs for their civilian and uniformed chiefs. These staffs largely work the same issues and perform the same functions," he said.

He said it was necessary to reform the Pentagon's financial information and computer information systems in order to make it more efficient.

Mr Rumsfeld said his plan would save the Pentagon from itself.

"Some might ask how in the world would the secretary of defence attack the Pentagon in front of its people. To them, I reply I have no desire to attack the Pentagon, I want to liberate it," he said.

See also:

16 Aug 01 | Americas
Stumbling towards Pentagon reform
28 Jul 01 | Americas
Huge fraud at the Pentagon
29 Jun 01 | Americas
US military bases face closure
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