Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former U.S. secretary of defense, who also served as White House chief of staff, U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. member of Congress, and chief executive officer of two Fortune 500 companies, has been appointed as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
“Don Rumsfeld has been involved with the Hoover Institution during my entire tenure as director, beginning in 1989, as a member of the Hoover Board of Overseers, as a member of the executive committee of the board, and as a significant supporter,” said John Raisian, Hoover director. “Don has had immense experience in public service and has much to contribute to society as a result. I am pleased that he will spend time during the coming year in thinking, writing, and advising on important matters of public policy.”
The Hoover Institution is embarking on bringing together a task force of scholars and experts to focus on issues pertaining to ideology and terror. The nation’s experience since September 11, 2001, has provoked new ways of thinking about national security and world peace in a new era. “I have asked Don to join the distinguished group of scholars that will pursue new insights on the direction of thinking that the United States might consider going forward,” said Raisian. “ I am delighted that he will participate in the deliberations of our task force.”
Rumsfeld served as the twenty-first secretary of defense from 2001 to 2006. As such, Rumsfeld was responsible for directing the actions of the Department of Defense in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rumsfeld proposed and the president approved a significant reorganization of the worldwide command structure, known as the Unified Command Plan, that resulted in the establishment of the U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Strategic Command.
Under Rumsfeld, the department also refocused its space capabilities and fashioned a new concept of strategic deterrence that increases security and reduces strategic nuclear weapons. To help strengthen that deterrence, the missile defense research and testing program was reorganized and revitalized, free of the restraints of the antiballistic missile treaty.
Rumsfeld attended Princeton University on academic and Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corp 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.
In 1957, he came to Washington, D.C., to serve as administrative assistant to a member of Congress. After a stint with an investment banking firm, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962, at the age of 30, and was reelected in 1964, 1966, and 1968.
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 as assistant to the president. From 1971 to 1972, he was counselor to the president and director of the Economic Stabilization Program. In 1973, he left Washington to serve as U.S. ambassador to NATO in Brussels, Belgium (1973–74).
In August 1974, he was called back to Washington, D.C., to serve as chairman of the transition team for the presidency of Gerald R. Ford. He then became chief of staff of the White House and a member of the president's cabinet (1974–75). He was then appointed the thirteenth U.S. secretary of defense, the youngest in the country's history (1975–77).
From 1977 to 1985 he served as chief executive officer, president, and then chairman of G.D. Searle & Company, a worldwide pharmaceutical manufacturer. The successful turnaround there earned him awards as the Outstanding Chief Executive Officer in the Pharmaceutical Industry from the Wall Street Transcript (1980) and Financial World (1981). From 1985 to 1990 he was in private business.
Rumsfeld served as chairman and chief executive officer of General Instrument Corporation—a leader in broadband transmission, distribution, and access control technologies—from 1990 to 1993. Until being sworn in as the twenty-first secretary of defense, Rumsfeld had served as chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company.
Before returning for his second tour as secretary of defense, 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.
During his business career, he continued his public service in a variety of federal posts, including
- Member of the president's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control (1982–86)
- Special presidential envoy on the Law of the Sea Treaty (1982–83)
- Senior adviser to the President's Panel on Strategic Systems (1983–84)
- Member of the U.S. Joint Advisory Commission on U.S./Japan Relations (1983–84)
- Special presidential envoy to the Middle East (1983–84)
- Member of the National Commission on Public Service (1987–90)
- Member of the National Economic Commission (1988–89)
- Member of the Board of Visitors of the National Defense University (1988–92)
- Member of the Commission on U.S./Japan Relations (1989–91)
- Member of the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission (1999–2000)
While in the private sector, Rumsfeld's civic activities included service as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration; as a member of the boards 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.
In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.