07 October 2002
Defense Department Briefing Transcript
(Terrorism campaign/anniversary, Afghanistan/stability, Yemen/tanker
explosion, Osama bin Laden/status, al-Qaeda operatives,
Iraq/disinformation, Iraq attack/no decision, Powell/Weinberger
doctrine, naval intelligence/sharing, anti-missile/Mideast defense,
Iraqi weapons/strike radius, U.S. review/weapons platforms, Persian
Gulf/maritime warnings, Iraqi revolt/regime change, defense
authorization, Iraqi Liberation/'98 Act, U.S. buildup/Persian Gulf,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Marine General Peter Pace, vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed the media October 7 at
United States Department of Defense News Briefing
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Monday, October 07, 2002 -- 1:15 p.m. EDT
(Also participating was Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon.
It was a year ago today that the global war on terrorism began, when
U.S. and coalition forces commenced military operations in and over
Afghanistan. Our coalition now comprises some 90 nations -- nearly
half of the world's countries. I'm told it's the largest military
coalition ever assembled in human history.
Looking back one year on what that coalition has achieved is
remarkable. As we stated last October 7th -- and I'm told that the
transcript of that press briefing is available -- U.S. military
objectives in Afghanistan were to drive the Taliban from power; to
capture, kill or disrupt al Qaeda; provide humanitarian relief to the
Afghan people; and begin the process of creating conditions that will
eventually make Afghanistan inhospitable to terrorist networks.
We've made good progress. By October 7th of last year, less than four
weeks after the September 11th attacks, we had developed and were
implementing our plan to defeat the attackers. Working with local
Afghan forces opposed to the Taliban, coalition forces used an
imaginative combination of 21st-century technology and 19th-century
military tactics, teaming airpower, advanced communications,
precision-guided munitions with thousands of Afghan warriors on foot,
and some on horseback, to overwhelm the adversary.
And it worked. On November 7th, just one month into the military
campaign, the first Afghan city, Mazar-e Sharif, was liberated from
Taliban control. With each successive day and week, additional
territory was reclaimed for the Afghan people -- Taloquan, Herat,
Jalalabad, Konduz, Bagram, Kabul, and finally, on December 7th, two
months into Operation Enduring Freedom, Kandahar, the Taliban
stronghold, was liberated.
The Afghan people promptly exercised their right of self-
determination through the Loya Jirga process and selected their
transitional government which, of course, is now getting on its feet.
With coalition partners, we're helping to train [the] Afghan national
army so that Afghans can once again provide for their own security and
the stability of the country. U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams and
coalition countries are helping Afghans rebuild their country after
decades of occupation and devastation, providing water, sanitation,
shelter, health care, and assistance to returning refugees. Schools
have been rebuilt, teachers trained, textbooks supplied. Young girls
are back in classrooms. Women are working. Land mines are being
cleared. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have returned -- a very
strong vote of confidence in coalition efforts and in the future of
But sadly, success on the global war on terror has not been without
cost. Fifty-three Americans have died in the war thus far. Their names
appear on the screen. And many others have been injured. Our coalition
partners have also suffered casualties as well. We remember them with
gratitude. We remember also the many Afghans who were -- fought for
the liberation of their country and were wounded or died in battle.
The sacrifice of all of those who died is a reminder that we are
engaged in a difficult and dangerous undertaking, but it is an effort
that is vital to the security of our people.
I believe the names that are listed are all military except for the
CIA, Mr. Spann.
The United States is committed to the long-term stability and security
of Afghanistan. I said here a year ago that while the raids that day
focused on the Taliban and the foreign terrorists in Afghanistan, our
aims remain broader. "Our objective is to defeat those who use
terrorism and those who house or support terrorists. The campaign will
be broad, sustained, and we will use every element of American power,"
I said one year ago.
Today, Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists, but
there's no question but that free nations are still under threat.
Thousands of terrorists remain at large in dozens of countries.
They're seeking weapons of mass destruction that would allow them to
kill not only thousands but tens of thousands of innocent people. Our
objective in the global war on terror is to prevent another September
11th, or an attack that is far worse, before it happens.
It's worth noting that before hostilities in Afghanistan began, there
were ominous warnings. One newspaper warned, before October 7th, "As
an environment for military conflict, Afghanistan is virtually
impervious to American power." Another declared that "Afghanistan has
been bombed for over two decades by the Soviet Union and every
conceivable band of local marauders, to little avail." "U.S. high-tech
equipment will not provide a decisive advantage against people who can
stay holed up in remote caves." Others issued similar warnings.
Fortunately, those predictions, for the most part, have not come to
pass. Coalition forces did succeed and have been welcomed by the
Afghan people because we came not as a force of occupation, but as
forces of liberation. We face many challenges beyond Afghanistan in
the global war on terror. Certainly no two countries are alike. But
the dangers remain, as does our resolve to deal with them.
Pace: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
We'd certainly like to join the Secretary in thanking the thousands of
dedicated men and women who serve in our armed forces to safeguard our
nation and our freedom. I've had the great pleasure of visiting these
folks in the field, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. They look me in the
eye and they do not ask, "When can we go home?" They simply ask, "What
else can we do?" And it's heartwarming and truly an honor to just be
with them where they're doing this great work for our nation.
Their families, too, deserve our thanks. It takes a great deal of
courage to fight our country's wars; it takes an equal measure of
courage to send our loved ones off into battle. So for all of our
families who have loved ones serving now, thank you for what you're
doing for your country.
And to the American people. This is a difficult war on terrorism. We
have a long way to go. Thank you for your amazing, sustained support
of your military. We promise you we will stay the course, and we thank
you for making that possible.
With that, we'll answer your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is there any indication whether the apparent
explosion and fire aboard the French-flagged tanker in the Gulf of
Aden was caused by a terrorist attack? And have the French asked the
United States, with considerable military assets in the region, for
help in investigating?
Rumsfeld: We have no information as to the cause of that damaged ship.
And I have no information that would indicate that the French have
asked for assistance. I just don't know.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in this press briefing last year, you were asked
about Osama bin Laden. You said, "This is not about a single
individual, it's about a terrorist network." And that's what you've
said many times. You've also said that there's no hard evidence that
bin Laden is still alive or that he's dead. Has that changed?
Rumsfeld: I said that a year ago?
Q: Since then. You've said --
Rumsfeld: Oh, since then I've said that. Okay. [Inaudible.] I said
that on September -- October
-- September 11th -- or October 7th, a year ago?
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Interesting. I was right. (Laughter.)
Q: Has that changed since then? And could I get you to comment --
Q: -- on the audiotape broadcast this weekend by Al-Jazeera, and
whether there's any indication that -- either way -- whether that's
Rumsfeld: I have really nothing I can add to anything I've said on the
subject. I have read only press reports of the tape -- the radio tape,
as I recall. I've not heard it. I know that there are people looking
at it. I'm told there's no way to know when it was made.
Obviously, there would be many ways that one could easily -- were one
alive, one could easily indicate that they were alive, and that the
tape had been made recently. And I'm told that it does not indicate
So, I have still to this moment not seen anything since last December
that one can with certainty say that he's alive or functioning. So
he's therefore either alive and well, or alive and not too well, or
Q: Do you have any better indication on Mullah Omar, Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: I don't. I hear scraps that he's probably still alive, but I
just -- we haven't -- I haven't seen or heard anything hard.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Secretary, it seems that the Congress is not
going to give the President the blank-check resolution he might have
wanted. It also seems that getting a strong resolution through the
Security Council is going to be probably an exercise in futility, as
we now see it.
Also, there are some who claim --
Rumsfeld: My goodness, you're in a morose mood today. (Laughter.) Are
there any other adjectives you could wrap around those two resolutions
to make them sound --
Q: (Off mike) -- second. Bear with me. There are some who say that
Saddam Hussein is playing us like a Stradivarius, with his United
Nations ambassador now saying that the palaces are not off-limits. Is
the administration now getting frustrated? It's said many times that
time is of the essence. When is somebody going to do something
tangible against the so-called, you know, man in Iraq who threatens
Rumsfeld: I wish I had written all of that down.
But first of all, I don't believe the President ever asked for a blank
check of Congress. Second, I am not as close to the congressional
resolution as I possibly wish I were. But I just haven't had the
moment in the last period of hours to check anything. But to my
knowledge, everyone seems to think that there will be a resolution,
and it'll pass overwhelmingly by the Congress. So your
characterization, I think, is probably -- misses the mark.
With respect to the U.N., it seems to me that's still quite open as to
what's going to happen, but my impression is that they're -- that
Colin Powell and his team are working hard with the folks at the U.N.
And I haven't seen anything that strikes me as suggesting that it's a
bleak, gloomy prospect for the U.N. resolution.
Last, the answer to your question is yes. There's no question but that
Saddam Hussein has in the past and is now attempting to manage that
whole process, and he's very good at it. He leans forward when he has
to, and he leans back when he can get away with it. And it is -- he's
very skillful at disinformation and not telling the truth. He is very
skillful at timing things in a way that causes the interaction at the
United Nations to do things that favor him. How it will all come out,
I don't know. It seems to me one would -- at least one would think
that after 11 years of doing it, pretty soon people would wake up and
say, "A-ha! That's what he's doing." And we'll see.
Q: Mr. Secretary, we've had some concerns raised. Leo Mullin of
[inaudible] airlines has said the airline industry already lost $7
billion last year, it'll lose another $7 billion this year, and if we
have a long war in Iraq, with high jet-fuel prices, it would be very
damaging. We've had economists saying that a long war over there with
the uncertainty it would generate, would damage the fragile U.S.
economic expansion. We've had others say --
Rumsfeld: My goodness. You -- you should've been sitting right next to
-- (inaudible) -- (laughter).
Q: It gets --
Rumsfeld: Should we all lay our hands together here for this?
Q: (Off mike) -- it gets better with me. (Laughter.) If you -- if the
President requests you to initiate a strike on Iraq, would it be done,
as General Shalikashvili said, with overwhelming force? Would it be
prosecuted in a very rapid manner, so that you would have a decisive
outcome quickly? Does the Powell Doctrine still prevail?
Rumsfeld: My goodness gracious. That is something. (Laughs) -- just --
he says, "Just say yes or no." (Laughter.)
First of all, there's been no decision on Iraq. So we have to begin
with that. Second, were there to be such a decision, I don't know why
one would assume that it would necessarily last forever. I think what
you said -- "Would it be a long, terrible, drawn-out thing?" --
Q: Or short?
Rumsfeld: And I saw Leo Mullin down in Atlanta and had lunch with him
the other day. I think that -- I don't want to correct your question,
but he had much more to say than just what you said, as I recall. And
I don't know that worrying that through, given the fact that the
President hasn't made a decision on the subject -- and it has an
assumption that he does and an assumption that it's long. And I don't
know that either assumption will prove to be correct. So I don't know
that I can answer your question.
Q: Well, the question was, would you put in enough troops -- General
Shalikashvili said don't wage war on the cheap -- put in enough so
that we can have a decisive action that will be over quickly?
Rumsfeld: It is always nice to receive advice from people who have
served in this department. But if I were to comment on the advice
that's received from every person who served in this department, we
wouldn't have much else to do -- we wouldn't have time to do anything
So -- the last part of your question on the so-called Powell doctrine,
my impression is that it was actually the Weinberger doctrine, I
think, technically. I could -- wasn't it? (Laughter.)
Q: It was, yes.
Rumsfeld: I don't want to get picky but -- (laughter) -- but that was
a couple of Presidents ago, and the times were different. This is now
post-September 11th, and the world has changed significantly since
President Reagan was elected in 1980, when those thoughts were
uttered. And it strikes me that even the people involved then would
probably have, today, somewhat -- some amendments that they would
probably make, or elaborations. So I don't know that it's useful for
me to comment on that.
Q: You can get our advice, if you like, Mr. Secretary! (Laughter.)
Q: Could you tell us what amendments you'd be talking about? What
would be this new document --
Rumsfeld: No, I haven't read this document that you're talking about
for 15 years, I don't suppose. And I have my own thoughts, you can be
sure of that and --
Q: We're so interested in them.
Rumsfeld: And I have -- you can be also certain that I've communicated
them to the President, and that there have been discussions about what
are the kinds of things one ought to think about prior to making a
commitment of U.S. lives to a conflict. And --
Q: I take that as a "no comment?"
Rumsfeld: Well no, it's a comment. I mean, I have thought a great deal
about this. In fact, I wrote down my thoughts when I first came into
office some 20 months ago, and have discussed them extensively with
the President and with General Pace and with General Myers and with
others in the department.
Q: And us?
Rumsfeld: Well, not yet.
Q: Now would be an excellent opportunity. (Scattered laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I didn't bring my guidelines down, but I'll consider that.
Q: Despite all the successes in the war in Afghanistan, how much of a
disappointment is it that coalition forces were not either able to
capture Osama bin Laden, or at least definitively determine his fate,
whether he's dead?
Rumsfeld: If you go back to what was read about a year ago today, what
I said, I said what I believed then and I believe today. This is not
about him. It is a problem that's much bigger than one individual. It
was that day. I said so. I tried to dissuade people from personalizing
this global war on terrorism into the face or name of a single
individual; that that would be unwise and misguided, misdirected. I
did my best. I failed. There's a fixation on him, and I suppose we'll
just all have to work our way through it.
Q: Nevertheless, whether it's about one individual or not, how much of
a disappointment is it that coalition forces --
Rumsfeld: For me or for the press corps?
Q: Well, for you.
Rumsfeld: I'm not -- "frustrated," I think, was the word you used --
at all about it. I -- needless to say, we would like to locate him and
determine what his circumstance is. But that's true of 15 or 20 people
that we've got high on the list of Taliban and al Qaeda that are --
have thus far not been -- we don't know precisely what's happened to
them. There are a category that we know are dead. There's a category
that we know are alive. And there's a fairly large category that we
don't know if they're dead or alive.
And the communications management and the way they manage their lives
have, have gotten -- they've gotten quite skillful. Because of all the
leaks in the press about how we do things and what we do and how we
find out things, they have managed to change their behavior patterns
in ways that it makes it very difficult to find them. And I'm -- I --
that's just a fact. The leaks in the press have been damaging to the
way we have to do things.
And when will we find some of these people? I just don't know. We do
know that we're putting pressure on them. We do know that their lives
are more difficult. We knew -- do know that it takes them longer to do
And we do know that if they are alive and well, that we'll eventually
Q: General Pace, can you help us with the environment since the USS
Cole was hit out in Yemen two years ago? Have there been continuing
indications that al Qaeda or other terrorist groups have been
plotting, going after maritime shipping? Is that a priority as you
talk to detainees, as you continue to gather this body of evidence?
Can you give us some feeling for where that threat matrix, to use the
Secretary's word, is?
Pace: Periodically, we receive intelligence reports that do say, that
not only U.S., but other coalition vessels would be subject to attack,
as we do reports about embassies around the world and about other
assets around the world. We take them all very seriously. The U.S.
Navy, for its part, is very sensitive to and attentive to, the
requirement to safeguard our capital ships, our warships. They do that
in various ways. We share intelligence amongst navies and amongst
intelligence organizations about the threats to shipping. But I should
not get into the specifics of how many threats and when we get them.
But we do receive threats and we do take precautions against it.
Q: Is there an indication that al Qaeda or other terrorist groups
might be shifting to softer targets, which would be civilian tankers,
civilian merchant vessels, or is that just out there in the noise?
Pace: Not an indication per se, but... but it's a logical place to go
that if in fact you are protecting one type of facility or one type of
effort, that terrorists who prefer to not have to attack hard targets
would go after something else, whether that's a ship or a building or
something; there's no fidelity to that. But clearly, the better
defended a particular thing is, the less likely it is to be targeted.
Rumsfeld: It's also been the pattern. We've seen people migrate and go
to school on what people do, and make judgments that that becomes more
difficult, therefore we'll do this for a while.
Q: Are you seeing a pattern change, I guess is what my --
Rumsfeld: Of actual events --
Rumsfeld: -- or intel?
Q: Of intelligence that --
Rumsfeld: We don't talk about intel.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Could you elaborate on what means, if any, are being made to
provide anti-missile defenses to countries that may find themselves in
the path of an Iraqi Scud attack -- beyond Israel, either by Patriot
or one of the competitors?
Rumsfeld: There are missile -- anti-missile missile -- defense against
missiles located in a number of countries in the region, and have been
for some time. And we don't discuss which countries they're in. Israel
has discussed what they have, obviously, and everyone knows they've
been working on the Arrow system. But, it's up to those countries to
discuss any defenses they have, if they decide that's in their own
Q: Including any increase, is there any change of --
Rumsfeld: We wouldn't announce changes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, how seriously [is] your Department of Defense is
taking into consideration the part of the recent British report
submitted to your government that Saddam Hussein is in a position to
strike by his missiles even Greece and Cyprus, along with the State of
Israel and Turkey?
Rumsfeld: Well, one --
Q: It is a big issue in the press.
Rumsfeld: It is a big issue where?
Q: In the press, about the citation of this report --
Rumsfeld: About what?
Q: The citation of British report --
Rumsfeld: Wait a second. I can't understand the word.
Q: The British report saying that Saddam Hussein is in a position to
strike even Greece and to...Cyprus --
Rumsfeld: I see.
Q: -- along with the State of Israel and Turkey.
Rumsfeld: Right. Right. The British report and others have taken Iraq
and then taken a radius around it to show what the range of their
missiles are. And it, it's -- any country that happens to fall within
the range of those missiles or those capabilities obviously has that
circumstance. But they could be -- if Iraq were to decide to do
something like that, they would have the capability of doing it within
those ranges. That's true.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you update us on your ongoing review of some
of the major weapons systems -- the CVX, the DDX, the Raptor? Senator
Warner sent you a letter last week underscoring the importance of the
carrier program. Just wondering what --
Rumsfeld: It's amazing how the letters I get get to you before they
get to me. I've not seen it.
But how is it going? Well, I had lunch today with the service
secretaries that were in town and Paul Wolfowitz. And we had a good
discussion and kind of got brought up to date that the various studies
that are taking place or proceeding. And the Joint Staff and General
Pace are all involved in this process.
It is now October, still early October. And the budget goes to -- from
the Department of Defense, I believe, in December, over to OMB, and
then it goes to the President in December and early January, and then
it goes to the Congress in February. So between now and early
December, we have to have completed the studies that are scheduled to
be completed, had the necessary meetings and discussions, and
considered all of the various options which those studies are designed
to offer up, and come to some conclusions.
I guess I have not been in it -- involved in it intimately. I have --
I get brought up to date every few weeks by Dr. Wolfowitz and Steve
Cambone and Dov Zakheim and General Pace and all of those who have
been doing it. But they've not arrived at my desk yet with any
recommendations, or even any final options.
Pace: And I have been involved with this almost daily. It is all being
done below the Secretary's level right now. It's a very fixed process
to make sure that all the options are looked at. Take any particular
weapon system you care to choose; the service that is responsible for
bringing that weapon system into the inventory is briefing us on where
they are right now, how long it will take to get to where they believe
we should be. We're looking at that with regard to budgets and also
future concepts, and trying to determine -- to give recommendation to
the Secretary -- how far down this road can we see, and is it prudent
to go to expend resources to get to the next decision point, so that
we don't take things off the table too soon, nor do we expend
resources too fast on a particular concept. And then to take it in
whole cloth, because if you take one system, you just can't make a
decision on that and put it in your pocket, you have to make a
tentative decision and then go to the other systems and see how they
are all impacted, and then come back to the whole cloth. And when we
get done with that, then we'll come forward to the Secretary with our
Rumsfeld: That is a very important point. Understandably, a particular
company gets interested in a particular system; a particular
congressional district or a state gets interested in a particular
system; a particular service gets interested in a particular system.
But what General Pace and Dr. Wolfowitz are trying to do is to look at
the totality of these things, and see how they fit together in a joint
war-fighting -- from a joint war-fighting standpoint.
Q: How much does the interest of particular members of Congress add to
the difficulty of your decision-making?
Rumsfeld: Well, you know -- well, come on! (Laughter.)
Q: General? General Pace --
Rumsfeld: Decision-making's difficult in the best of circumstances. We
all know that. These are complicated issues and tough ones. And it's
been thus far a very healthy process. So I'm pleased with them.
Q: Well, I guess what I'm trying to get at -- will you be adding to
the levels of U.S. forces in the Gulf, sir? Will you be moving to do
that soon, before -- I know the President hasn't made a decision, but
at some point you have to start moving forces to the region, and have
you come to a decision on that?
Rumsfeld: You know, for me to say yes or no is un-useful, from your
standpoint, because we make decisions on where people go and where
ships go and where aircraft go every day. And some are going in and
some are going out. And it's true of every area of responsibility that
the various combatant commanders have.
The -- obviously, the President is before the Congress and tonight
before the American people and, in the period of weeks ahead of us,
before the world community in the United Nations. And it's unclear how
it all is going to sort through, and it's up to him, and it's not up
to us. And we'll do what makes the most sense as we go along.
Q: Can I clean up one detail on Yemen? I believe at the beginning you
said that France had not sought any U.S. help or assistance on the
investigation. Has Yemen asked the United States for any help and
assistance? You have no -- maybe I might have incorrect information.
You have no NCIS investigators on their way to Yemen to assist that
Pace: Not that I'm aware, but --
Rumsfeld: It's possible. It's possible that people are moving around
to assist. But I just happen not to have addressed it myself.
Q: And just also clean up one detail. As a result of this, has there
been any new additional notice to mariners in the region, any
additional cautions? The 5th Fleet already did have a notice to
mariners out. Any -- or is it just completely status quo?
Rumsfeld: Well, since the Cole, there have been so many notices out to
mariners that it -- it is clearly something that is a potential
problem, for us and for other countries' ships.
I don't know that... of any status that's changed since this
particular ship was set on fire, or had an explosion or whatever
happened to it, because we don't know what's happened to it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you and others in the administration have talked
several times in recent weeks about your hope -- or let's say, about
the possibility that Iraqi people might revolt, that officers might
disobey orders. Do you have any signs that there's dissent or
defections among Saddam's inner circle or the military or the
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't want to get into what our intelligence shows on
things like that. But if one looks at that regime and how it treats
its people, and how it treats even the people in the military, it
seems to me that -- transpose yourself back to Afghanistan. There was
the same kinds of questions: What do the Afghan people think about all
this? How are you going to deal with the Taliban and the al Qaeda and
all of those problems? And the fact of the matter is, as those cities
fell, people came out and felt liberated, and they flew kites and they
played music and opened schools and refugees came home.
The regime in Iraq is a repressive regime. Human beings are human
beings. It's been said there will be no peace in the world till every
man is free, because to every man he is the world.
And there have to be people there who, despite the fact that they have
been repressed for many, many decades, who would prefer to live a
different life. And I don't doubt for a minute but that that's the
case. But I'm... it's not for me to get into intelligence that
Q: Mr. Secretary, we're in the second week of the fiscal year, and
there's no indication of when Congress is going to pass either defense
authorization or appropriations. Does it cause the department any
difficulty if they go home for the recess, for the election, without
-- and leave you living on continuing resolutions?
Rumsfeld: Sure. I mean, your first choice is that when the new fiscal
year starts, that the bill would have been passed -- authorizations
and appropriation -- weeks before, so you could begin arranging
yourself to live with the new budgets and authorizing authorities.
And we're now into the fiscal year and neither has passed. So clearly,
that makes life more difficult.
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Sure. Mm-hmm.
Q: Have you made a decision on who you're going to nominate to lead
the force... the Army forces in Europe?
Rumsfeld: (Confers with General Pace.) Okay. I think I have made the
decision, in answer to your question. And the decision I make is a
recommendation that goes to the White House, and the White House,
General Pace tells me, has not yet acted on. But we've been working
very, very hard trying to get a large number of military and civilian
recommendations to the White House, and to the Senate for
confirmation, and we've had some good luck. We've been able to get the
interviews that needed to be conducted, the decisions that needed to
be made, approval at the White House, and I'm told that the Senate has
been very cooperative, and they're moving promptly to try to see that
these names get dealt with before they go out. And I believe that's
one of them, but I'd have to go back and look. There were so many of
them, there were a large number.
Q: Some in Congress, and also Britain's Jack Straw, are making a
distinction between disarmament and regime change, arguing that, well,
if Saddam Hussein allows inspectors in and if he disarms, there is
really no need to topple the Saddam Hussein regime. What would you
think of that argument?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think that there are different things that concern
different people, and there are different people who make judgments as
to what is required to achieve one of those things, and in some cases
another is required. To be specific, if you go back to the President's
speech, whenever it was, three, four, five weeks ago... on the subject
of Iraq, and he talked about a series of things. He mentioned the
weapons of mass destruction problem, he mentioned the regime, and he
mentioned the repressive nature of the regime, and what it's doing to
human beings from a standpoint of human rights, the Iraqi people
themselves. He mentioned the threats to the neighbors. He mentioned
the fact that it's a terrorist state. He mentioned the fact that it
has connections to terrorist organizations. He mentioned -- oh,
goodness -- oh, violation of U.N. resolutions. So there were five,
six, seven, eight things that he discussed as problems with this
And I believe he mentioned -- I know he mentioned, and I suspect he
will this evening -- the fact that the United States of America back,
I guess, in the prior administration and the Congress, passed
legislation on regime change.
Now, is it surprising that some other country might come up with a
list that doesn't have two or three of those on it? No, not at all;
it's not surprising. And that's fair enough. Some things bother some
people, some things don't bother other people, or they don't think
that they're as important. And I think that's probably the case in
Q: So in your mind, there's really just no question that you have to
topple the Saddam Hussein regime in order to disarm?
Rumsfeld: Well, first of all, what I think doesn't make an awful lot
of difference. It's what the President decides. And I think that it's
what the U.N. -- the U.N. is going to have to think that through. If
you have had 11 years of violation of U.N. resolutions on disarmament
-- the first year, hope springs eternal; the second year, hope still
springs, but somewhat less than eternal. And you go through year after
year after year. If at the end of 11 years, there are still some
people who are hopeful, fair enough; then they're hopeful that you
could get disarmament without changing the regime. If there are people
who, after 11 years, come to a conclusion that, "Gee, maybe it's not
going to be possible to get disarmament with that regime," then that's
their call. And the President and the U.N. is going to have to make
that kind of a call.
I just -- I just don't know what will be decided, but whatever will be
decided will be -- we will be advised accordingly. But it is not our
decision to make.
Q: Are you backing away from regime change? I mean, you have said
congressional policy --
Rumsfeld: It's a congressional policy, of course. Exactly.
Q: -- and the policy of the last two administrations.
Q: So why can you not say that you fully endorse regime change?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I do. But that isn't what's important. What's important
is what the President decides he wants to do about that. We've been --
had a policy in this country for regime change. And we've been using
political, diplomatic activities in the U.N., we've been using
economic sanctions, and we've been using military activity in the
Northern No-Fly Zone and the Southern No-Fly Zone. Now, that has all
been according to the U.N. resolutions, in part, and in part, a part
of the congressional mandate to the President with respect to regime
change and the Iraqi Liberation Act, I believe it's called, of 1998, I
Now, that is our policy. That does not mean it necessarily is the
policy of some other country, which I thought the question was, and --
nor does it necessarily mean it's going to be the policy of some other
Now, it may become that -- that people can arrive at that conclusion.
No one started with that conclusion 11 years ago, obviously, or he'd
be gone. That is something that's evolved over 11 years. And as people
watch what's happened, then they have to all make their own judgment
as to how they feel about that and how much hope they still can find
to spring out. (Subdued laughter.)
Q: I think Britain was arguing also that if there was a truly --
inspectors went in and if there truly was a disarmament, that actually
would be a regime change without actually --
Rumsfeld: There are people who feel that way, exactly. Mm- hmm.
Q: Has the President ordered a military buildup in the Persian Gulf
and elsewhere in the Middle East, Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: Do you think he could have done that and have it not be in
the press? (Inaudible.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, in Warsaw there was some -- there was some talk at
the informal ministerial in Warsaw about the Germans and perhaps the
Canadians co-sponsoring, taking over ISAF.
Rumsfeld: Oh, I think it was the Germans and the Dutch.
Q: The Germans and the Dutch. I beg your pardon. Has that gone any
further, sir? And have you talked to your German colleague about it?
Rumsfeld: I haven't. It is something that has been discussed in the
interagency process, and there is thought going into it here and at
NATO. There's nothing to announce. And at some point my guess is that
we will get seized with that issue after NATO thinks about it a bit --
the Military Committee and people like that -- to see how it would
work and what NATO might do, and by way of force generation or
planning or to assist them -- that type of thing. But it's still -- it
is not off track, but it has not jelled.
Q: General Pace, can I ask you, a year later, to bring us up to date
on the number of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan proper, in the
theater? And if the number remains around 10,000, why is it several
thousand more than it was during the last major battles of the
campaign? And how long will they be there?
Pace: The number does remain around 10,000. [NOTE: Approximately
9,000.] As the Secretary pointed out, we have forces that replace each
other routinely. So you'll have spikes in strength on the ground,
where the new unit's in, it's learning what the old unit was doing,
and then the old unit goes home.
But the total number does not always reflect the exact focus of the
military organization, either. For example, it is certainly possible,
inside of any number, to have, as we had early on, at this time last
year, combat forces conducting combat operations.
And now we have still a very demanding environment, a very dangerous
environment. But we have a lot more of the total coalition force and
U.S. forces there assisting with stabilization, so that the Karzai
government can have a chance to start building some of the
institutions of a functioning democracy, or functioning country.
So within the same number, you can have a very different focus and
very different flavor. And as we swap out units, sometimes a light
unit goes in, and other times an engineer unit may replace a specific
combat unit to get the right kind of capability there.
Q: It sounds like what you're saying, then, is the mix is -- a
destabilization component of that has increased since hostilities sort
of settled down a little bit. Is that right?
Rumsfeld: Actually, the answer to that is yes in part, but also what
specific people are doing has changed. So it may be a larger number of
people doing civil affairs and humanitarian activity, or it simply
means -- it's probably a combination of both -- that some people who
were doing more military functions are doing more humanitarian and
civil works functions today.
Q: I thought we didn't want to do that kind of thing. I thought we
wanted to leave that --
Rumsfeld: Who's "we"?
Q: The United States government.
Rumsfeld: The reality is that you could stick a half a million troops
from 20 countries into Afghanistan, and you wouldn't necessarily
improve the security circumstance, as long as you've got Taliban and
al Qaeda in Pakistan and Iran, and porous borders. What has to be done
is not to dramatically increase the number of security people, in my
view, but the government has to find its sea legs. And it has to
develop -- people have to develop confidence in that government that
that government is delivering for them and making their lives better.
And that means you've got to focus on the humanitarian side. You
simply have to focus on the civil works side. And people have to
develop a stake in that country and in that government.
It is [a] dangerous place; it will be -- it has been a dangerous place
for decades, it is a dangerous place, and it will be a dangerous place
prospectively while the government is developing that -- the
connections to the people and the connections to the region, that will
enable it to begin to provide for its own security. So whether
somebody wanted to do it, or it was a hope to do it, or a first choice
to do it doesn't make an awful lot of difference today. It's the kind
of thing that needs to be done, unless that country were to revert to
a terrorist training camp.
Q: Well, many people would, of course, agree with you, and they would
call that nation-building. And how long do you think we're going to
have to have this large group of people there?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'd say it's a relatively small number of people, not
a large number of people, by standards as one thinks of --
Q: The size of the country --
Rumsfeld: -- the size of the country and other situations. And the
answer is, they'll have to probably stay there, along with their
coalition partners and associates, as long as it takes to do what I
Thank you very much.
Q: Sir, have you seen Modern Maturity's latest issue?
Rumsfeld: I don't even know what it is. (Laughter.)
Q: It's the magazine of the AARP.
Q: (Off mike) -- circulation is -- (off mike).
Rumsfeld: And I don't know what it is?
Q: Well, you're not retired yet.
Rumsfeld: That's not only thing that --
Q: But you're in its centerfold as one of eight, I think, archetypes
of "Eldercool"! (Laughter, cross talk.)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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