Clinton picks experience before charisma: Defense Secretary

LES ASPIN, 54: A long-time scourge of the Pentagon and conservatives in the defence community, has used his career in the House of Representatives since 1970 to attack defence policy and military over-spending. A strong critic of the Vietnam war, he was one of the first of a new generation of post-Vietnam politicians publicly to question America's overseas defence commitments. Was elected chairman of the House Armed Service's Committee in 1985. Holder of a Masters Degree from Oxford University, is described by friends as having a dishevilled and often absent-minded manner. His almost unique expertise in defence issues is not questioned. Is known to favour reduction of US troop numbers in Europe beyond that sought by George Bush, but would be expected to support intervention for humanitarian causes. Is said to have impressed Mr Clinton during the campaign, when he advised him on defence policy.

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