Defense Secretary Robert Gates may be fading as an easy choice for the top defense job in the Obama administration. But like all the reports on this issue right now, no one but President-elect Barack Obama and a few aides actually know what is likely. And anyone who has direct knowledge isn't talking until the boss does.
A source with contacts among senior Obama security officials says the job is Richard Danzig's for the taking, should he want it. Also, Gates has repeatedly indicated how little he relishes the idea of staying.
Paul Kaminski, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology under Clinton, was mentioned by my source as a possible No. 2 at the Pentagon. Kaminski has kept his hand in the defense world, recently advising part of the intelligence community on how to improve its acquisition practices and advising Obama on defense industrial issues.
The Obama transition team is facing the fact that they would be keeping someone closely identified with the Bush administration, albeit one who is generally well regarded for exhibiting competence in his execution of the job. John Hamre, CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has a great deal of support among manby of the likely choices for senior defense jobs. As the head of CSIS, he brought many of the Clinton administration's national security advisors to work with him and they are quietly touting his suitability for the job.
Here are some of the names being tossed around for top slots at the Pentagon. Michele Flournoy, president and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, is a leading contender for the powerful position of undersecretary of Defense for policy, often regarded as the secretary's chief advisor. Flournoy was head of strategy during the Clinton administration and is known as a balanced and rational analyst who adapts well to rapidly changing situations. Flournoy has been advising the Obama campaign for quite a while.
Her co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, Kurt Campbell, is also being discussed for the policy job. Campbell is well known in Washington as an expert on Chinese and other Asian security issues. He heads a consulting company that capitalizes on this, StratAsia. Campbell has always worked well with reporters and became a regular contributor on NPR and a consultant to ABC News.