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. Tim

    Bill in Ct. You better watch out for the black helicopters that are following you.

    Go back to your own little world now.

    November 6, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Tim

    The last free man,

    It's too late, those entrusted with keeping an eye on our government have been in bed with the next president for the past year.

    November 6, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Marc PDX Putin licks his chops... and Ahmedinejad, and Hugo Chavez, and N. Korea, and China, and Syria, and ...

    November 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. 82nd Airborne Division

    Bill in CT

    Stop whining, you sound like your afraid of your own shadow!

    We serve for a cause higher then our selves, and we believe

    in our Nation and Commander in Chief. We are not brainwashed.

    Some of us enjoy what we do! :=)

    November 6, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Sue

    Obama has already done more in two days than Bush has done in eight years.

    November 6, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    November 6, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Obama has already done more in two days than Bush has done in eight years.

    And what is that, exactly?????

    November 6, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Tim

    Umm Sue, Obama is not the president, he hasn't done anything yet. Once he become president, I don't expect any signficant change.

    November 6, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Ken in Dallas

    I could never have an intelligent conversation with someone who thinks "moreless" makes sense in any way.

    November 6, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Doc

    Erik in Real PA,

    Thank you!!!

    November 6, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Whatever

    I already have my "Don't blame me, I voted for McCain" sticker on order.

    November 6, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. 82nd Airborne Division

    Marc PDX

    Bring 'EM on Baby! You civilians want the truth this war in Iraq could

    well be over in less than three months if the world would let us

    handle our business. You tug on the Lions whiskers guess what

    happens? We can't subject the enemy too a proper humbling

    because half of you so called red blooded Americans would

    be whining about how inhumane it would be! I say we unleash

    our Boys out of Diego Garcia and carpet Bomb IRAQ for 30 days!

    Sorry about my INFIDEL LOGIC!

    November 6, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Tim


    Send me a couple of those bumper stickers with rush delivery. I have a sense they will soon be needed.

    November 6, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Whatever

    What do you guys/gals think about coming home? I mean besides the fact that you really would like to see your families. Do you think that the Iraqi people have learned enough from you that they could make it? I have always said that we should be asking the military people what they think about timelines ect. before the politicians.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Janet

    Let's get the ball rolling. We will be looking at the new people as well as the old ones that will stay.

    November 6, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Whatever

    I would love to send them to you as a rush delivery but I will soon be so taxed I'll just have to use snail mail, don't you agree?

    November 6, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. 82nd Airborne Division

    There is an old saying "If Uncle Sam wanted you

    too have a family he would have issued you one"!

    I pray that President elect OBAMA takes care of you all back home,

    where one PEOPLE one NATION! Man up and be your brothers


    November 6, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. mitch

    hurry up! before bush decides to use his 'doctrine' again!

    November 6, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. NavyVet

    If only our Government worked as smoothly as our Armed Forces. I think politicians could learn a thing or two from Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

    Hey 82nd Airborne Division, THANK YOU for your service.

    November 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. Crue

    "Obama has already done more in two days than Bush has done in eight years."

    Wow....just wow. I cannot wait until people finally see who the real Obama is. It's going to be sad. Meanwhile- americans(the ones with a brain) will be saying, "i told you so."

    November 6, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Soccer Nana

    To 2012 and all other naysayers: President Elect Obama did not start these two wars. Why didn't you all think the Country was "doomed" when the present administration lied about WMD and invaded Iraq?

    Don't try to blame these wars on the administration; place the blame correctly.

    November 6, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. GARY


    November 6, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. thanks, but no thanks

    Hey 2012 get a life. And all you people who are affraid, get a dog.


    November 6, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. Westwood girl

    McCain / Palin Supporters and Obama Supporters:

    What the HELL is the matter with all of you?! Especially you Obama supporters, you're better than this and you know it!!! SHAME! Can we please act like adults now? We have a BROKEN COUNTRY and we need to FIX IT!!!

    I swear Democrats are the sorest winners in the world only matched by the insanity of the sore loser Republicans. BOTH SIDES THINK THEIR POSITION IS ORDAINED BY GOD or something.

    We need to work together, not act like a collection of kindergardners. Why do you IDIOTS think our country's in such a bad position in the first place? If you're looking for the answer look in the flippin' mirror first.

    November 6, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. Spiffy

    Let's get the ball rolling. We will be looking at the new people as well as the old ones that will stay.

    "You will be looking" – what, are you part of his administration. Janet Reno, perhaps?

    November 6, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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