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'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?