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

Pentagon prepares for first war-time transition since Vietnam

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. HouseDiva

    with day we can have that obedient generation who will lay down their weapons and burdens by the riverside, and study war no more...only then will we have true peace.

    November 6, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. HouseDiva

    shut up gary...this country was attacked with clinton and bush, and neither one of them are blamed or impeached for it.

    if anything happens(god forbid) obama will not be blamed or impeached for it.

    and it's nice to see how much you love America with you wishes for terror and fear to strike us again just so you can justify your hatred of a mixed raced president.

    grow a brain, and get a life

    November 6, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |

    Those who are against our new commander in chief, I highly suggest you move out of the country because he's going to be here for 8 years.

    November 6, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  4. Hugh coldwar vet ~ California

    As a former infantryman–coldwar, never had to fire a shot in combat– I'm proud as I can be right now–KICK SOME SERIOUS BUTT!
    And I hope you all come home soon.

    November 6, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Texas Teacher

    Gary, is that you again spouting nonsense? Bush should have been impeached! If he can get away with the crap he got away with and NOT get impeached, it won't matter what any President does. But you need NOT WORRY, Barack Obama will NOT be impeached!

    "Word...." as my students used to say!

    November 6, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. Rave

    Yes, end the unnecessary war that costed over 4000 American lifes, nearly a Trillion Dollars, Spreading terrorists (Al Queda) to Iraq.
    Saddam Husein was just an Enemy of United States of America and an Enemy of Humanity. Now see, what we created there .. brand new Al Queda terrorists.
    Not only ending the war.. but Hold everyone accountable – who were involved in this Scam of a War to benefit from it. Already uncle Cheney moved his headquarters to Dubai...what more evidence do you need.

    November 6, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Dayahka

    America seems to have been constantly at war ever since its inception–that was founded in war–with many of the wars being fought to secure the resources of other countries for the use of the USA (highway robbery, in other words). Obama cannot escape this legacy–and the dominance of the military system, yet he has to find a way to stop the trillions of dollars being spent on unwinable wars. He should think about keeping Gates on as a consultant for a year, with former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

    November 6, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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