Navy Secretary Gordon R. England, whose efficient management skills and affable manner have made him a favorite of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's, emerged yesterday as President Bush's nominee to become deputy secretary of defense.
England, 67, a former business executive, would succeed Paul D. Wolfowitz, who was approved yesterday as the next president of the World Bank.
A one-time executive vice president of General Dynamics Corp. with a proven ability to deal with Congress, England has a reputation for being less ideological than Wolfowitz and more attuned to the administrative demands of the Pentagon's second-ranking civilian job. Friends and associates also describe him as a good storyteller.
His path through the Bush administration has been somewhat circuitous. He was Navy secretary for a year and a half beginning in May 2001, then jumped to the top deputy's job at the Homeland Security Department in January 2003. He returned to the Navy post eight months later after Bush's choice for that job, New Mexico oilman Colin R. McMillan, committed suicide.
During both terms as Navy secretary, England has joined with Adm. Vernon Clark, chief of naval operations, in directing some of the most sweeping change the service has seen in decades. This has included retiring dozens of ships, shedding thousands of jobs, and consolidating Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation forces. It also has included juggling crew deployments to keep some ships at sea longer and devising plans to surge more warships into action faster during a crisis.
One close associate said yesterday that England's stint in the homeland security position broadened his exposure to the White House and his "contact base" in Washington. It also expanded England's view of the administration's war on terrorism, which has carried over into some initiatives he has pursued since returning to the Pentagon. They include stronger ties between the Navy and Coast Guard, and greater assistance to Marines on the front lines in Iraq, the associate said.
Known as having a knack for problem solving, England was chosen by Rumsfeld for some special tasks. One was overseeing the National Security Personnel System, mandated by Congress in 2003 to modernize the Defense Department's workforce. Rumsfeld also chose him to supervise the process of reviewing the cases of prisoners being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Also yesterday, Bush nominated Eric S. Edelman to succeed Douglas J. Feith as the Pentagon's undersecretary for policy. Edelman recently stepped down as ambassador to Turkey and previously served as a senior aide to Vice President Cheney.