Inman itching to get down to business: Pentagon officials welcome the new US Secretary of Defense as one of their own

THE carefully planned replacement of Les Aspin by Admiral Bobby Ray Inman as US Secretary of Defense is proving a political success for President Bill Clinton. Unlike many previous Clinton appointees Admiral Inman, once deputy head of the CIA, will face little opposition in Congress and is being welcomed by the Pentagon, where Mr Aspin was deeply unpopular.

It is becoming clear that Mr Clinton has been planning for at least a month to get rid of his Defense Secretary but Mr Aspin only realised he was going to lose his job on Tuesday. Mr Clinton's priority was evidently to appoint somebody who could get on with the military.

In appointing Admiral Inman, whose entire career in Washington has been spent in intelligence, Mr Clinton chose a man famous for his ability to cultivate Congress and the media. He also pleased the armed forces by appointing only the second former military officer in history to be Defense Secretary.

Admiral Inman has served in every branch of intelligence - naval, military, National Security Agency and CIA - under both Democrats and Republicans. In the outpourings of praise for his capabilities yesterday the only sour note was the recollection that William Casey, under whom Admiral Inman served at the CIA, had once called him 'brilliant, brittle, a golden boy worried about his own image'.

It was after differences with Mr Casey in 1982 that Admiral Inman resigned from government and entered private business. After Mr Clinton announced his appointment on Thursday, Admiral Inman underlined that over the last 10 years 'I've learned a lot about how business works'. He said he hoped to bring the best business practices to the Pentagon.

His promise to introduce business efficiency is bizarre, since Admiral Inman's own business career has been less than successful. Not only did he have a close relationship with James Guerin, the US arms dealer now serving 15 years in jail, but he was on the proxy board of Mr Guerin's International Signal and Control. The sale of ISC, its value grossly inflated by fraud, to Ferranti International for dollars 670m in 1987 struck a crippling blow to the British defence company.

Admiral Inman should have found it easy to turn his immense network of political and military contacts to his business advantage. Yet Tracor Inc, a defence contractor with which he was associated, filed for bankruptcy in 1991. In 1989, when Admiral Inman resigned from Westmark Systems, which had taken Tracor private, he said, according to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, that 'everybody understood' when he took the job that he knew nothing about finance.

Nevertheless, Admiral Inman was chairman of the audit committee of a mail-order computer company called Dell Computer which became mired in a scandal over currency speculation and was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He resigned from Dell on being nominated as Secretary of Defense.

It is a measure of his success as a bureaucrat in Washington that Admiral Inman's business career is unlikely to derail his confirmation by the Senate. Although his intelligence and organisational talent is universally praised, nobody, possibly not even Mr Clinton, knows what he is going to do at the Pentagon. Admiral Inman himself says he hopes to ensure that the American people get 'a dollar value for a dollar spent in defence'.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Secondary teachers needed for supply roles in Sudbury

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers requi...

Head of Technology

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Technology needed for a Outsta...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits