James Roche, a senior executive at Northrop Grumman Corp., has been nominated to be Air Force Secretary. Roche, a Navy veteran and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, served a previous tour at the Pentagon in the Office of Net Assessment in the 1970s. He has worked for Northrop Grumman since 1984. Tom White, a retired Army one-star general and West Point graduate, has been tapped for the Army's top civilian slot. White is currently chairman of Enron Energy. White served as a top aide to Colin Powell in 1989 and 1990. Gordon England, a seasoned defense executive, has been nominated to head the Navy. England is currently executive vice president of General Dynamics. The nominees, who are awaiting Senate confirmation, reflect the Bush administration's continuing efforts to seek experienced civilians with private-sector backgrounds to bring commercial expertise and a business mindset to the Pentagon.
The move is a marked shift from the Clinton administration's practice. Clinton often filled top Defense positions with policy experts from Capitol Hill and relied heavily on the uniformed military chiefs to manage the services.