November 6th, 2008
02:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Pentagon prepares for first war-time transition since Vietnam

The Pentagon is preparing for a war-time transition.

The Pentagon is preparing for a war-time transition.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As administration transition teams around Washington crank into high gear, Pentagon officials are insisting that the complicated transfer of power from the Bush administration to the Obama administration - the first during a time of war since Vietnam - will go smoothly.

Teams in both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' office, as well as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, have been working on the transition for months now, according to Pentagon officials.

"We are preparing to make this as smooth a transition as we can," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said earlier this week.

While officials say the transition is in good hands, little is being said about what discussions will occur between the Pentagon teams and President-elect Barack Obama's transition teams when they begin showing up within days or weeks.

"There is a recognition that given that we are a nation at war, that energy and effort [should] be sufficiently placed to ensure that we don't drop any balls, because national security and supporting our fielded forces that are engaged in combat is of paramount importance to this country," Whitman explained.

Robert Rangel, special assistant to Gates and the deputy secretary of defense, is in charge of the transition process in the Pentagon while Marine Brig. Gen. Frank McKenzie, who reports to Rangel, is leading the effort for the Joint Staff.

Last month, Gates issued guidelines for the transition, stressing that the department must maintain its continuity of operations during the handover, and must ensure efficient and effective transition between the outgoing political leaders and the incoming administration, according to Whitman.

The Pentagon has opened new offices for Obama's transition staff. The non-descript offices are just down the hall from the secretary of defense's office and have been readied with computers, phones and filing cabinets.

The offices remain empty until staff is designated by Obama's team and cleared through the White House.

"The initial contact point for the Obama transition team will be through the White House and there will be a discussion on the way forward on the transition and what will happen out of that will be a memorandum of understanding that says 'these people will be working with the Defense Department' so we know who has been sanctioned and designated by the president-elect," Whitman said.

soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. 2012

    We are so doomed with this guy in the White House, is it 2012 yet?

    Sure, most will say he will get two terms, I say he gets impeached!

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Boise, ID

    Religion is the root of all evil.

    November 6, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. ANSY


    November 6, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. Attorney in FL

    Do you see that....she's crying! Our lady liberty is crying ...Obama was elected! (And they aren't tears of joy).

    November 6, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Nick the Photographer

    One thing I have learned over the past 8yrs... Whatever Bush says, you can expect the opposite! So when he says, "count on 'complete cooperation' as he makes the transition to the White House" or "During this time of transition, I will keep the president-elect fully informed on important decisions" expect the opposite!

    November 6, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. ANGIE

    OUR TROOPS WILL BE FINALLY COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Greed is not good

    Let's wrap-up the endless war in Iraq. McWarmonger and his 100 year war are history. Iraq can take care of itself just fine now.

    November 6, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Rick

    I hope Obama takes some of those powers that were grabbed by Bush and starts punishing these repugnants...send some of them to non existent torture camps in the ME or Eastern Europe....send some of them to fight in a war they cheered for but won't pay for or serve in...send some of the christians crackheads to Iran for some reeducation...

    November 6, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. Lynn in NM

    The Pentagon had better be preparing for another attack on US soil. Possibly war on US soil, as well, since we will be pacifists until Obama is out of office. Practice your French!

    November 6, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Attorney in FL

    These anti war folks like Angie make me laugh. My fellow Americans are gullible and fell for a bunch of empty rhetoric.

    NEWSFLASH Angie– our troops are NOT coming home. They're going to be redeployed from Iraq to Afganistan.

    Obama isn't ENDING the War...he's MOVING it. It's still war...its still families being torn apart...its still lives being taken...its still tax dollars down the toilet. The war isn't's moving!

    You Obama folks are so gullible. I can't wait to say "I told you so" when he screws up. It's going to be bittersweet.

    November 6, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. cat

    Eat your words 2012 the victory of peace awaits us.
    yes there can be peace without war / yes there can be freedom without war / yes there can be democracy without war. YES WE CAN

    November 6, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. RealityKing

    Run away, run away...

    November 6, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. newman

    attorney in FL your an idiot its the back side of lady liberty

    November 6, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. RealityKing

    Americans better prepare themselves for the imment strike.., according to Biden.

    November 6, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |

    Hey Attorney in FL and 2012 – YOUR EITHER WITH US OR AGAINST US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. a voter 2

    obama gonna bring em home in janurary ... yes we can !!

    November 6, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. a voter 2

    2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!! you just don't like blacks. OBAMA can't be IMPEACHED ........ HE IS BLACK !!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Veteran in Kansas

    It's amazing that change can be so frightful to some people. I am sure that the reansition of leadership will go well with the Department of Defense, why because our military serves no personnal amibitions and no master but America.

    Angie our troops will not be coming home, but they will be properly directed towards the enemy.

    Attorney in FL, Lady Liberty is crying out of joy that the United States of America will once again be governed by the Constitution of the United States and everything that it stands for.

    Dear 2012, freedom of speech is a wonderful thing.

    November 6, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. twosquared


    You cant possiblie want more of the same Bush policies.?
    Even as a Canuck I would want change.
    You have to shake up Govt every once in while.
    They get to complacent in their policies and lose touch with the people.

    November 6, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. gurarro

    Those folks can't wait to leave the government and hand their problems over to someone else. They are in 2 wars they have no idea how to get out of, but they can't wait to jump ship.

    November 6, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. hugh ~ california

    Attorney in FL & 2012

    November 6, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. 2012

    To a voter 2 just proved my point as to why African Americans will lose respect versus gaining it!

    Do you honestly believe that simply because Obama is black, that African Americans will suddenly be flocking to suburban America, ivy league universites and corporate jobs?


    November 6, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. 2012

    To a voter 2

    ...based on your grammatical skills, I doubt you even know what "impeached" means."

    However, based on your response, I proved my point.

    November 6, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. Bulldog

    Freedom of speech is so great isn't it? Some can choose to speak their ignorance like all of these Obama haters and the rest of us can tell them how ignorant they really are. What a great country.

    November 6, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. KLEE

    Dear – 2012, Attorney in FL, & RealityKing – you are all so sad! You just keep up your "cat calls" from the peanut gallery. After awhile you will be just talking to each other because the rest of us will have moved on like the rest of the country.

    What I'd like to see is how you and your comrads would run the country – you probably don't have a clue and just like to complain about anyone else trying to get the job done.

    Well good for you, after all this is "The UNITED States of America" and some of us get it!

    November 6, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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