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Perry nominated deputy secretary of defense
STANFORD -- William J. Perry, co-director of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, was nominated Wednesday, Feb. 3, by President Clinton to be deputy secretary of defense.
Perry, 65, a professor of engineering-economic systems, will take a leave of absence from Stanford to assume the position as chief deputy to Defense Secretary Les Aspin upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Michael May, a professor of engineering-economic systems, has agreed to serve as acting co-director of the Stanford center, according to political science Professor David Holloway, the other co-director.
After serving in the Carter administration as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering from 1977 to 1981, Perry joined Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control and participated informally in a number of its research projects and conferences. He was appointed co-director of the center in September 1989.
In his work at the Stanford center, Perry has been particularly interested in defense restructuring, the conversion of military industries and the development of U.S.-Russian strategic relations. He regularly teaches a course in the department of engineering-economic systems on "The Role of Technology in National Security" and has built that department's program in public and private sector technology policy, said James Sweeney, department chair.
"William Perry is a sound and sophisticated adviser whose expertise on military technology and policy is unmatched," Clinton said in announcing the nomination. "Secretary Aspin and I will rely heavily on his knowledge, imagination and judgment as we work to keep our military the strongest in the world in a time of budgetary constraints."
Perry's chief task now will be helping to "restructure the armed forces and defense technology base to fit the post-Cold War world," Holloway said.
"He is one of very few people who understand very well both defense and arms control," said law Professor John Barton, who worked with Perry on one of the first research contracts of the U.S. Arms Control Agency when both were at GTE's Electronic Defense Laboratory in Mountain View in the early 1960s.
Perry rose quickly there to laboratory director and "completely redirected its technical programs," said Lewis Franklin, a visiting scholar at the arms control center who first worked with Perry in 1959. Franklin is a former vice president of TRW.
"In 1961 and 1962 when we were helping the State Department conceive of arms control agreements to stop the spread of ballistic missiles, Bill became a national expert on the possibilities for verification; that is, how could we use various kinds of airplanes and satellites to verify that treaties were being followed. I would call that a lifelong passion of his," Franklin said.
"He is not an advocate of a huge defense establishment, even though it seemed necessary when the Russians had a huge military establishment."
In 1964, Perry founded ESL Inc. of Sunnyvale, which quickly distinguished itself as one of the first to bring digital systems technology to military systems, said Franklin, who worked at ESL with Perry and was surprised when Perry stepped down as its president in 1977 to become an undersecretary of defense.
"Many people at ESL thought he was indispensable . . . but he was not worried about our failure or his, which is rare, I think, for executives. I would say Bill had the knack to pick remarkable people or they, to follow him."
As undersecretary of defense, Perry worked on improving the Defense Department's weapons procurement process and he provided the initiative for beginning the development of "smart" weapons and Stealth technologies that were later successful in the Persian Gulf War, Franklin and Holloway said.
He continued to serve as an adviser to both Congress and the White House in the Reagan-Bush years. His participation has been sought on many government commissions, colleagues said, because of his ability to analyze problems from all angles and state options clearly.
"He has a remarkable ability to communicate with the most non-technical people to the brightest Ph.D.s in a technical field," Franklin said. "He's a very popular speaker on national defense."
In the early '80s, Perry was a member of the Scowcroft Commission which reviewed U.S. policy on strategic forces, and then the Packard Commission, which looked at procurement. "Academics often like to turn a problem around looking at different points of view and just take pleasure at examining it, but he has the kind of mind that focuses on solutions as quickly as possible," Holloway said.
Franklin also credits Perry with being one of the first in the late 1980s to take seriously the possibility that the Soviet Union under Gorbachev was interested in scaling back the arms race.
"When there was the slightest opening, Bill said, 'Let's look into it,' and I think at some political risk to himself, because there were still many people saying you could never trust Communists."
Partly as a result of his early interest, Stanford "became one of the leading centers in helping the Soviets in converting their economy," said Franklin, who is one of the center scholars involved in research on the conversion of Russian and U.S. military industries.
Perry received his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Stanford, and his doctorate in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.
He is a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and has served on a number of U.S. government advisory boards, including the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Defense Science Board and the Technical Review Panel of the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. He is a member of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government; the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences; and the Aspen Strategy Group of the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Perry also is chairman of Technology Strategies and Alliances, a private consulting company based in Menlo Park, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
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