Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e
Donald H. Rumsfeld was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of Defense on January 20, 2001. Before assuming his present post, the former Navy pilot had also served as the 13th Secretary of Defense, White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and U.S. Congressman.
Secretary Rumsfeld had directed the actions of the Defense Department in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Thus far, the Global War on Terror has resulted in regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq, with democratic elections being held in both of those nations.
Mr. Rumsfeld attended Princeton University on academic and NROTC scholarships (A.B., 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, he transferred to the Ready Reserve and continued his Naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. He transferred to the Standby Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and to the Retired Reserve with the rank of Captain in 1989.
Mr. Rumsfeld was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected in 1964, 1966, and 1968.
Mr. Rumsfeld resigned from Congress in 1969 during his fourth term to join the President's Cabinet. From 1969 to 1970, he served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and Assistant to the President. From 1971 to 1972, he was Counsellor to the President and Director of the Economic Stabilization Program. In 1973, he left Washington, D.C., to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium (1973-1974).
In August 1974, he was called back to Washington to serve as Chairman of the transition to the Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. He later became Chief of Staff of the White House and a member of the President's Cabinet (1974-1975). He served as the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense, the youngest in the country's history (1975-1977).
Before returning for his second tour as Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld chaired the bipartisan U.S. Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, in 1998, and the U.S. Commission to Assess National Security Space Management and Organization, in 2000.
While in the private sector, Mr. Rumsfeld's civic activities included service as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the boards of trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the National Park Foundation, and as Chairman of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc.
In 1977, Mr. Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.