Obama Staffs Defense, Danzig's Future Up In Air
The Obama transition team announced on Thursday afternoon the staffing of key positions in the Department of Defense, ending a process that proved a bit tricky according to those in the know.
William Lynn, a former Clinton defense official, will serve in the top deputy spot. The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will be Michèle Flournoy, a well-respected voice in defense policy circles and the founder and head of the Center for a New American Security.
The staff announcements seem, on the surface, to be a blow for a few contenders -- none more so than Richard Danzig, the Secretary of the Navy under President Clinton. Danzig was the focus of many of the initial rumors as to who would serve under Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
But the process of filling out the Pentagon has many variables. And, in the end, Danzig may end up in a more optimal position. According to one well-connected source, the Obama team -- as of a few weeks ago -- was kicking around the idea of appointing a deputy secretary of defense who would not ultimately succeed Gates. The logic was that the new administration would eventually want a clean break from the old.
Another source, who admits to not having direct knowledge of the staffing decisions but is well-verse in defense affairs, seconds the theory.
"My gut feeling is that [Obama] will want his own guy in there but is waiting a bit before making the big change. What is going on now is putting loyalists in the important jobs ... My guess is 12-18 months and a new Secretary of Defense."
A third source agrees, saying, "I think it means Defense Advisory Board for Danzig, with a chance to play down the road."
If this philosophy holds true, being left out now could benefit Danzig in the long-term.