Richard N. Perle has been kicked off the Defense Department's top policy-making board because he did not show up for enough meetings, sources in the department said yesterday.
Perle, assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, plays a leading role in shaping Pentagon positions on arms control. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Thayer removed him from the Defense Resources Board because of his lack of attendance, according to officials.
The Defense Resources Board, composed of the top civilian and military leaders, meets regularly to thresh out the major problems confronting the Defense Department. Among questions it tackles are how the military forces should be structured to meet this country's commitments around the world and how much money should be requested from the president for national defense.
Officials said Thayer has been chairing most of the DRB meetings over the last month, during which there has been a heated debate over how money should be apportioned among the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps over the next five years.
In those sessions Thayer has argued that the Army must get a bigger share of the Pentagon's total budget from now on, much to the consternation of Navy leaders. They say they fear they will lose some $10 billion to the Army in the next five-year budget plan.
"Paul figured if Perle didn't think the meetings were important enough to go to himself rather than send a deputy he should be kicked off the board," one official said in describing the incident, which is reportedly causing considerable tittering in the Pentagon.
Perle, a leading opponent of the SALT II arms control agreement while an aide to Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), and an advocate of building up strategic forces to gain leverage on the Soviets at the bargaining table, is considered something of a maverick among the top executives in the Defense Department.
"He doesn't even come to Cap's staff meetings," said one official in acknowledged admiration of Perle's independent attitude toward Pentagon meetings, including those called by Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.
Perle was vacationing in southern France and could not be reached for comment on his removal from the board.