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WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has recommended to President Bush that he nominate New Mexico oilman Colin R. McMillan to be the next secretary of the Navy, two senior defense officials said Monday.

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 secretary of defense in the early 1990s when Vice President Dick Cheney was the defense secretary.

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.

Civilian leadership positions in the Army and Air Force also are in transition.

Army Secretary Thomas White was dismissed by Rumsfeld on April 25 and is due to leave office Friday with no replacement nominated yet. Defense officials have said Rumsfeld wants the Air Force secretary, James Roche, to replace White, but no official announcements have been made.

Defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Rumsfeld forwarded the McMillan recommendation to Bush, but it was unclear whether all details were settled, including terms under which McMillan would dispose of any stock holdings that could conflict with his official duties.

A McMillan nomination would be subject to Senate confirmation.

The Albuquerque Journal in Tuesday's editions quoted Steve Bell, the chief of staff for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., as saying it was "very likely" that McMillan would be Bush's nominee.

McMillan was born in Texas. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1957 he joined the Marines. He 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.

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