(Calls him "the right leader" in time of change)  (640)

By Alexander M. Sullivan

USIA White House Correspondent

Washington -- Stressing that in a time of "great change" in the world, the

United States "must make certain that we have the right forces and strategy

for this new era," President Clinton December 16 named retired Admiral

Bobby Ray Inman to head the Department of Defense.

In a brief Rose Garden ceremony, the president introduced Inman, who said he

had not sought the job as successor to Defense Secretary Les Aspin, whose

sudden resignation had been announced December 15.  Aspin is to leave

office January 20.


"We must ensure that, even as we reduce force levels, our military remains

ready to fight and win on a moment's notice," Clinton said, expressing

confidence that Inman "is the right leader to meet these demanding


Inman, who had directed the National Security Administration under President

Carter, said that President Clinton had persuaded him to accept the defense

post during long hours of discussion.  The admiral had been deputy director

of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Reagan.

"I did not seek the job," Inman said; "honestly, I did not want the job."

He said concepts of duty to his country and Clinton's "absolute commitment

to build strong bipartisan support for where this country needs to go in

the years ahead" overcame his disinclination to leave the private sector

for another segment of government service.

Clinton said he wanted to announce a successor to Aspin "as soon as

possible" to assure continuity in the secretary's office and suggested he

had selected Inman because the retired admiral possesses "the kind of

character all Americans respect."

Clinton called Inman's experience "truly impressive," pointing out that the

admiral had "personally briefed Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy" on

intelligence matters, and had "held senior positions under Presidents Ford,

Carter, Reagan and Bush."  Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, the

president added, "called Admiral Inman 'a national asset,' and I know he

will be a national asset as secretary of defense."

In the ten years since leaving government, Inman has served as chief

executive officer of two electronic firms, as a teacher at the Univerity of

Texas, and as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas.

Before accepting the nomination, Inman said, "I had to be comfortable that

he (President Clinton) was persuaded I was the right choice for this time

frame.  And Mr. President, as you know, I had to reach a level of comfort

that we could work together, that I would be very comfortable in your role

as the commander in chief -- president -- while I was secretary of defense,

and I have found that level of comfort."

While shunning matters of substance pending his Senate confirmation

hearings, Inman said he hoped to bring to the Defense Department the "best

business practices."  He said he had found in his travels around the

country a populace less concerned about U.S. military activities abroad

than with "whether we are getting a dollar value for a dollar spent in

defense.  I would hope that at the end of our years working together we

will have persuaded them Mr. President, that they are."

Inman said he had not voted for Clinton in last year's presidential

election, but for his friend, former President Bush.  "The president did

know that," he said, "when he asked me to take this job."

The secretary-designate said he looks forward to working with Clinton's

national security team, saying he considers Secretary of State Christopher

"an old friend and someone I enjoy working with and (whom) I greatly

admire.  (National Security Affairs adviser Anthony) Lake is a new

acquaintance to me, but in these very few short days, it's been a great