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(Calls him "the right leader" in time of change)  (640)
By Alexander M. Sullivan
USIA White House Correspondent
Washington -- Stressing that in a time of "great change" in the world, the
United States "must make certain that we have the right forces and strategy
for this new era," President Clinton December 16 named retired Admiral
Bobby Ray Inman to head the Department of Defense.
In a brief Rose Garden ceremony, the president introduced Inman, who said he
had not sought the job as successor to Defense Secretary Les Aspin, whose
sudden resignation had been announced December 15.  Aspin is to leave
office January 20.
"We must ensure that, even as we reduce force levels, our military remains
ready to fight and win on a moment's notice," Clinton said, expressing
confidence that Inman "is the right leader to meet these demanding
Inman, who had directed the National Security Administration under President
Carter, said that President Clinton had persuaded him to accept the defense
post during long hours of discussion.  The admiral had been deputy director
of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Reagan.
"I did not seek the job," Inman said; "honestly, I did not want the job."
He said concepts of duty to his country and Clinton's "absolute commitment
to build strong bipartisan support for where this country needs to go in
the years ahead" overcame his disinclination to leave the private sector
for another segment of government service.
Clinton said he wanted to announce a successor to Aspin "as soon as
possible" to assure continuity in the secretary's office and suggested he
had selected Inman because the retired admiral possesses "the kind of
character all Americans respect."
Clinton called Inman's experience "truly impressive," pointing out that the
admiral had "personally briefed Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy" on
intelligence matters, and had "held senior positions under Presidents Ford,
Carter, Reagan and Bush."  Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, the
president added, "called Admiral Inman 'a national asset,' and I know he
will be a national asset as secretary of defense."
In the ten years since leaving government, Inman has served as chief
executive officer of two electronic firms, as a teacher at the Univerity of
Texas, and as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas.
Before accepting the nomination, Inman said, "I had to be comfortable that
he (President Clinton) was persuaded I was the right choice for this time
frame.  And Mr. President, as you know, I had to reach a level of comfort
that we could work together, that I would be very comfortable in your role
as the commander in chief -- president -- while I was secretary of defense,
and I have found that level of comfort."
While shunning matters of substance pending his Senate confirmation
hearings, Inman said he hoped to bring to the Defense Department the "best
business practices."  He said he had found in his travels around the
country a populace less concerned about U.S. military activities abroad
than with "whether we are getting a dollar value for a dollar spent in
defense.  I would hope that at the end of our years working together we
will have persuaded them Mr. President, that they are."
Inman said he had not voted for Clinton in last year's presidential
election, but for his friend, former President Bush.  "The president did
know that," he said, "when he asked me to take this job."
The secretary-designate said he looks forward to working with Clinton's
national security team, saying he considers Secretary of State Christopher
"an old friend and someone I enjoy working with and (whom) I greatly
admire.  (National Security Affairs adviser Anthony) Lake is a new
acquaintance to me, but in these very few short days, it's been a great

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