07 May 2002
Rumsfeld, Georgia Defense Minister Talk Counterterrorism
(May 7: media availability at Pentagon after their meeting) (3000)
During Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's meeting with Georgian
Defense Minister David Tevzadze at the Pentagon May 7, discussion
centered on U.S. counterterrorism assistance, Rumsfeld told
He said the first 26 of 150 U.S. trainers are providing tactical
counterterrorism training to four Georgian battalions, and Turkey,
Germany and other countries also are involved in boosting the
country's anti-terrorist capability.
"The effort that we're engaged in with Georgia is something that is
not a U.S.-only activity," Rumsfeld said, citing contributions from
Turkey and Germany, as well as a recent donors' conference involving
some 15 countries "many of which have offered to participate in
various ways to assist the Republic of Georgia and their armed forces
and the minister of defense in developing a better anti-terrorist
capability for their armed forces."
Tevzadze thanked the United States for sending the trainers and said
the aid will promote stability in Central Asia.
"I wish to thank ... the defense establishment in the United States
and also your political leadership," Tevzadze told Rumsfeld. The
decision to send trainers "helps not only Georgia. Actually it helps
for stability of the region itself, and it is very important," he
said, adding that Georgia will now be able to involve itself more
actively in the war on terrorism.
Both Rumsfeld and Tevzadze emphasized that the American troops would
not be sent to the Pankisi Gorge -- where there are known to be
guerrillas with suspected al Qaeda ties in an area adjacent to
Russia's troubled Chechnya province -- or to the breakaway Abkhazia
region of Georgia.
Rumsfeld also answered questions about Army Secretary Thomas E. White,
the resumption of flight testing for the V-22 Osprey, and Rumsfeld's
decision to kill the Army's $11 billion Crusader artillery system.
Following is the Defense Department transcript of their remarks:
U.S. Department of Defense
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
MEDIA AVAILABILITY WITH SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD H. RUMSFELD
AND GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER GENERAL LIEUTENANT DAVID TEVZADZE
RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. I am here with the defense minister of the
Republic of Georgia, Mr. Tevzadze. He has visited us here previously,
and we have met on several occasions at NATO functions. Georgia, of
course, is a member of the Partnership for Peace.
In addition, the United States has a military-to-military relationship
with the Republic of Georgia, which has recently been enhanced in that
we have, as you know, a number of trainers that have arrived very
recently in Georgia. I think there are some 26 people there at the
present time. And the first phase of the program will take it up to
something in the neighborhood of 75 U.S. trainers to train the
national staff, and then the second phase will go up to, I believe,
150 total trainers who will be involved with tactical training of four
I should add that the effort that we're engaged in with Georgia is
something that is not a U.S.-only activity. We have the Turkish
government armed forces - [they] have trainers in there, and Germany
has been cooperative. Recently, there was a donors' conference, and
some 15 countries, many of which have offered to participate in
various ways to assist the Republic of Georgia and their armed forces
and the minister of defense in developing a better anti-terrorist
capability for their armed forces.
So we're very pleased to have you here, Mr. Minister. We thank you for
coming. And you're welcome to make any remarks you would like to.
TEVZADZE: First of all I wish to thank your leadership of -- I mean
defense establishment in the United States and also your political
leadership because of the decision that helps not only Georgia;
actually it helps for stability of the region itself, and it's very
important. And also, it will help Georgia also to be helpful for
others not only in that respect, to manage its own territory, but with
more deeper involvement in anti-terrorist war.
RUMSFELD: Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, given the controversy over both his Enron
stockholdings and over Crusader, have you continued faith in Secretary
White's ability to lead the Army? And despite the fact that you --
RUMSFELD: Let me just answer that --
Q: All right, sir.
RUMSFELD: -- yes, I do. I certainly have confidence in Secretary
Q: And so you don't intend to seek his resignation over --
RUMSFELD: No -- (laughs) -- my goodness, no.
Q: Also --
RUMSFELD: You don't believe everything you read in the newspaper, do
Q: (Pause.) Also, you've made clear that you haven't signed off yet on
the fate of Crusader. But for all intents and purposes is it now dead?
RUMSFELD: I think that the way to -- my recollection is that where we
are, we are engaged in a 30-day process where we are going to be
looking at alternative ways to use the funds from the Crusader to
determine precisely how it would be best to accelerate some precision
munitions and to see that we have the kind of capabilities between --
that are appropriate and necessary between now and the availability of
the capabilities that are designed for the objective force.
Q: Well, the Crusader itself, then. But you're going to use those
funds for other things.
RUMSFELD: I think -- I think I'm -- I think I'd rather have Paul
precisely describe that.
(To staff) Has that been done yet by Paul?
STAFF: Not yet, sir.
RUMSFELD: So I'd like to defer to that. He's been working very hard on
it, and the precise language that he will attach to it will be
available, one would think, relatively soon.
Q: Sir, on the --
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the same subject, may I -- ?
Q: What do you make of the Army's arguments that they have made to
Congress that canceling the Crusader would cost American lives on the
RUMSFELD: The Army has not made those arguments. Someone --
individual, someone with an overactive thyroid -- (laughter) -- seemed
to get his hands in his mouth ahead of his brain. And the -- that
happens in life. And it certainly was not Secretary White, if that's
what you're wondering, nor was it the Department of Defense, and we're
looking into it.
Q: Whoever, is that a valid argument, Mr. Secretary?
RUMSFELD: Of course not.
Q: Well, can you clarify your support for White again? I mean, the
front page, USA Today, implies he's out the door at the end of the day
RUMSFELD: And I just said don't believe everything you read in the
Q: So you're reiterating your support for him at this point?
RUMSFELD: I just did.
Q: If an IG report comes down and says, though, that the Army
inappropriately lobbied Congress in violation of the Anti-Lobbying Act
-- which you're well aware of, as a former congressman -- might that
change your opinion?
RUMSFELD: There is no question but that the Army -- not the Army, but
some individuals in the Army, were way in the dickens out of line. It
was not Secretary White, and he's advised me of that case.
Q: I was going to ask you that. How do you know it wasn't Secretary
White? What --
RUMSFELD: But wait, there's someone here -- wait, wait, wait, wait.
There's someone here from the Republic of Georgia. There you are.
Q: Yes. I'd like to know what kind of help you are going to provide
the Republic of Georgia? Only 100 trainers, that's all? And I know you
gave $53 million, right?
RUMSFELD: Well, look, the Republic of Georgia and the United States
are very friendly nations. We have a military-to-military relationship
that is really an expansion of the Partnership for Peace/NATO
relationship. And I'm not going to stand here and enumerate the
various things it involves. It's a multi-faceted relationship; it
involves diplomatic and economic, as well as security issues.
And the thing that we were discussing today was what I explained in
some detail, and that is up to a maximum of 150 trainers for a very
specific purpose, with other countries participating, and it is a
program that we -- they and we believe will be a useful thing from the
standpoint of the Republic.
Q: I have another question for the minister --
Q: May I follow that?
RUMSFELD: So I wouldn't want you to say "only" like that.
Q: Another question for the minister --
RUMSFELD: Wait. The minister wants to respond also.
TEVZADZE: Yes, I will. I think our military-to-military contacts are,
since 1995, actually, and during this period it's very difficult to me
to say how much billions were spent by the U.S. I wish to assure you
that what was done during these years, and especially since 1998 up to
this day, is much bigger than any millions you can count. You know, so
Q: Minister, again, is there any possibility that those four
battalions of Georgian troops trained by the United States would be
deployed anywhere near or along the boundary with Abkhazia, the
breakaway region in the northwest of your country?
TEVZADZE: No, for two reasons. First of all, we don't have any reason
to deploy them there because the process which is going on with the
Abkhazian part of Georgia, we are committed until all the resources
will not be resources for peaceful settlement of the conflict, at
least in the nearest future, we will not be try to come to a military
resolution of the problem, is one thing. And another thing is, I don't
have any facilities nearby Abkhazia, as you mean, border -- (chuckles)
-- so-called, which will be suitable for these four battalions to be
deployed from there --
RUMSFELD: The minister has a few more meetings here in the building
shortly. What I'll do is take just a few more questions. Yes, indeed.
Q: Mr. Minister, can you bring us up to date on your view about the
potential al Qaeda presence in your country? Do you believe now that
there are al Qaeda either members or influences in your country? Do
you believe that there are al Qaeda elements that have escaped the
fighting in Pakistan, come through Chechnya, possibly, come to your
country? What is the status?
TEVZADZE: You know, actually, for me personally, it is very difficult
to believe in that, because to come from Afghanistan to that part of
Georgia, they need to [cross] at least six or seven countries,
including [the] Caspian Sea. But better information, perhaps, have the
agencies -- we are working slightly in different --
Q: Nonetheless, do you believe, if not from Afghanistan --
TEVZADZE: You know, in physical world, there is nothing excluded.
Q: Is there al Qaeda influence in your country now?
TEVZADZE: No. No, al Qaeda influence can't be in the country.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, can we go back to a question you didn't answer?
RUMSFELD: Sure. (Laughter.) You mean I wasn't asked.
Q: The contacts with Secretary White that you've had --
Q: -- has he assured you he didn't send those talking points up or had
nothing to do with them?
RUMSFELD: HE HAS.
Q: Does he know who did?
RUMSFELD: We -- as I indicated, we have an Inspector General study
going on, and it's -- it'll be available, and we'll find out, and then
we'll see what happens.
Q: Has that been given to Secretary Wolfowitz yet? It was supposed to
be done today, we understand.
RUMSFELD: I have not seen it. I don't believe it's been given to
Secretary Wolfowitz, and when it is, why, we'll sit down and discuss
Q: Mr. Secretary, one --
Q: A question --
RUMSFELD: Just a second. One second. Yes?
Q: Could you give us an update on the security situation in the
Pankisi gorge area? What kind of insurgency are you dealing with? How
many people are there?
TEVZADZE: I'll tell you the situation in Pankisi dramatically improved
since the program -- train-and-equip program was loudly announced.
Yes, it seems strange even for me, but that's true.
Q: And could you quantify that? How has that change manifested itself?
TEVZADZE: I'll tell you, first of all, it's become easier to work
inside the gorge for law enforcement agencies of the country, and it
lets -- I should say, first effect of the program.
RUMSFELD: We'll take two questions. One, two.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in the coming days, the V-22 Osprey is supposed to
go back into flight testing, and I'm just wondering what your attitude
toward the program is. Is it -- is it so transformational, as the
Marines say, that if the flight-testing goes well, that program
succeeds? Or could it still be cut for budgetary reasons because it's
RUMSFELD: That is a subject like all weapons systems that gets
addressed in an orderly way. And the defense planning guidance, as I
recall, has some reference to it, but that's a classified document,
and I don't know that I want to get into what it says precisely.
Q: Well, do you have any strong feelings about whether the aircraft
would be transformational or not?
RUMSFELD: I think what I'm going to do is leave that question where I
ended it. It seems to me that if I start elevating out one weapon
system over another and blessing or not blessing or marginally
blessing or quasi-blessing or pseudo-blessing, it is an un-useful
project for me. And I think that the defense planning guidance in the
budget for the coming year will speak for itself. It will show what
not just Rumsfeld, but the combined judgment and wisdom of the
civilian and military leaders in this department have concluded is
appropriate. And it isn't so much one-weapon system against anything
else. It's the mix of capabilities and how they interact with each
other in a way that provides the kinds of net capabilities that this
country's going to need. So it really -- it is really not useful for
me to do that, to pull things out, yes.
Q: And what would you say to lawmakers like J.C. Watts of Oklahoma,
who say that the Crusader is necessary to protect soldiers, and he's
going to be fighting to keep it?
RUMSFELD: Well, you know, the Constitution has Article 1, which is the
legislative branch of the government. It's not the executive branch,
and it's not the judicial branch. And the Congress has an important
role to play. And the president disposes, and the Congress -- proposes
and the Congress disposes. So what will happen will be what happens
every year. That is that the best judgment of this department will be
marshaled and presented to the Congress and the world, persuasively,
one would hope. And we will then go make our case. And we will do it
on weapon system after weapon system. And we all know we begin with
the truth, and the truth is, change is hard. No one wants anything to
change. And the resistance to change in large bureaucracies and in
legislative branches and in contractor communities is enormous. And
what we will have to do is see that our arguments are persuasive, that
we marshal them well, that we deal with the people on the Hill so that
they understand that the totality of what we're presenting is rational
and coherent and makes sense for this country. And that's our task.
Q: Are you saying Congress is an obstacle to change? (Laughter.)
RUMSFELD: Of course not.
Q: I was just wondering. (Laughter.)
RUMSFELD: I said it was Article I of the Constitution. (Laughter.)
You're not listening carefully.
Q: You're saying that you're not going to hold Secretary White
responsible for this overactive thyroid problem. Is that -- (laughter)
-- is that right? I mean --
Q: In other words, he is not responsible for members of his staff who
might have done this.
RUMSFELD: Well, now, let's just take a minute and discuss that.
I am responsible for this department. There are things that happen in
it, not unlike the one we're discussing at the present time, that I
may not like or agree with, in which case it's my job then to find out
how we get most of the department working in the right direction
together in a constructive, positive way. But I'm still responsible
for the department. And the secretary's responsible for the Army. But
in an instance where someone in the Army out of thousands and
thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of human beings
does something that he, she or it clearly should not have done and
will not do again, it seems to me that the task is to find out the
facts. And it isn't a matter of ready, shoot, aim, it's ready, aim,
fire. And we're still in the aiming business.
Q: There isn't a witch-hunt?
RUMSFELd: Now, Pam! (Laughter.) That's like "quagmire", and "kangaroo
courts", and "torture", and all these other words that inflame the
public, that --
Q: "Quagmire", or "kangaroo court", or -- (laughter) -- you used the
word "fire". That was your word. (Laughter.)
RUMSFELD: Yeah. I said It's not ready, fire, aim.
Q: Are you referring to Secretary White?
RUMSFELD: No, I'm not! I've already discussed that. (Laughter.) What's
the matter with your folks? Come on!
Q: Sir, if you haven't read the Inspector General's report --
Q: (Off mike) -- on this.
RUMSFELD: We got to go.
Q: If you haven't read the Inspector General's report, how can you
make these sweeping -- these statements of support for White? Aren't
you -- isn't it --
RUMSFELD: Because I've talked to the secretary, and he had no
knowledge or awareness of the talking points.
Q: But the Inspector General is looking in it. Shouldn't you wait to
see the report --
RUMSFELD: I'll wait for the rest of it. I've spoken on the first
Q: All right.
Q: Thank you.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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