WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush has chosen New Mexico oilman Colin R. McMillan to be the secretary of the Navy and Air Force Secretary James Roche to replace the dismissed secretary of the Army, Thomas White.
The White House announced Bush's picks Wednesday.
White was dismissed April 25 by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and is due to leave office Friday.
Both Roche and McMillan were Rumsfeld's recommendations, defense officials said.
McMillan, 67, of Roswell, N.M., runs Permian Exploration Corp., and was chairman of Bush's New Mexico presidential campaign in 2000. He served in the Marine Corps from 1957-72 and was an assistant defense secretary in the early 1990s when Vice President Dick Cheney was the defense secretary.
Defense officials have said they are working on terms under which McMillan would dispose of any stock holdings that could conflict with his official duties.
Until his Senate confirmation, Roche will remain as Air Force secretary. No one has been nominated as Roche's replacement at the Air Force, but officials said Wednesday that a leading candidate is Barbara McConnell Barrett, a former Federal Aviation Administration official.
Since White is leaving his Army post on Friday, the undersecretary of the Army, Les Brownless, is in line to serve as the acting secretary until Roche is confirmed, officials said.
The Navy has not had a permanent secretary since Gordon England left in January to become deputy secretary of the new Department of Homeland Security. Hansford T. Johnson has served as acting secretary since Feb. 7. The Navy secretary is the service's most senior civilian official.
McMillan was born in Texas. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he joined the Marines in 1957 and served on active duty until 1962, when he switched to the Marine Corps Reserve.
In Bush's father's administration, McMillan served as assistant secretary of defense for production and logistics.
Roche has been Air Force secretary since June 1, 2001. A former senior executive at defense industry giant Northrop Grumman Corp., he has gained a reputation in the Pentagon as a strong leader and advocate for the kinds of business reforms and military modernization favored by Rumsfeld. Previously, Roche was the Democratic staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee and a State Department official.
White had been in conflict with Rumsfeld over many issues, including a high-priority Army artillery program that Rumsfeld chose to cancel.
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