(DoD news briefing. Participating were Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon.
With the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein last month, confidence is growing in Iraq that the Ba'athists will not be returning to power. As a result, more Iraqis are coming forward to help the coalition as the coalition works to get the country back on a path of stability and self-government. And the people coming in are providing helpful information as the coalition deals with the remnants of the Ba'ath regime that are seeking to undermine their progress.
The U.S. recently approved $30 million award to the person who provided the whereabouts of Uday and Qusay Hussein. That information silenced two dangerous enemies and has made Iraq safer for the Iraqi people.
As more Iraqis step forward with information and assistance, coalition forces have conducted scores of raids against the remnants that still exist in the country. Within recent weeks, coalition forces have captured literally many hundreds of individuals. They have now captured or killed 38 of the top 55 "most wanted." The forces have confiscated millions of dollars -- money that could have been used and some of which undoubtedly would have been used to pay dead-enders to ambush American and British troops. They have seized thousands of mortar rounds, hundreds of small arms, plus heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, plastic explosives, documents and ammunition.
In addition to the military successes that the forces are having, the Coalition Provisional Authority has had successes on the civil side as well: the opening of the universities and hospitals, the return of Iraq to the world oil market, the hiring of Iraqi police and the formation of an Iraqi army, and the local municipal councils that are taking office all across Iraq.
Most important, of course, is the formation of the Iraq Governing Council. The 25-person council includes Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkoman, men and women. It is broadly representative of the Iraqi population. Indeed, I would suspect that it is very likely the most representative body that Iraq has ever had.
Immediately on taking power, this new council began exercising authority. It moved to nullify Ba'athist holidays, to declare April 9th, the liberation of Baghdad, as a new national holiday. The council has sent delegates to meet with the United Nations. We expect that it very soon will begin to recommend interim ministers to lead some of Iraq's government ministries and will begin work on the 2004 budget. We also anticipate that in the period ahead, it will launch the process of writing a new Iraqi constitution for the Iraqi people.
Each of these successes -- the political ones, the civil ones and the military ones -- each is putting pressure on those who seek to disrupt Iraq's transition from tyranny to a free and civil society.
Success will take time, let there be no doubt. It will require patience. There will continue to be attacks and difficulties that will have to be met. And it will take the continued courage of our coalition forces. Both our forces and the members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, in my view, are doing an excellent job for the country and for the Iraqi people.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss my visit last week to the Arabian Gulf and Southwest Asia. I traveled to Iraq, to Qatar, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Oman. And the purpose of the trip was to meet with the commanders of our ground forces and the troops on the ground and to visit those troops. I really wanted to get a feel for the pulse of the coalition operations in the various countries.
Regarding Iraq, the most important take-away is that coalition forces are really making incredible, remarkable strides toward the security and stability of Iraq. Just yesterday, they conducted 22 raids, 836 day patrols, 605 night patrols, and many of these patrols were in conjunction with Iraqi police. Soldiers I spoke with understand the mission, they understand why they're in Iraq and they understand the greater mission in which the war in Iraq is just one part.
It's particularly interesting to note how well our forces are able to switch from tracking down the violent former Ba'ath regime elements to assisting Iraqis in rebuilding their country. Just while I was there last week, I think it was on one raid, coalition forces confiscated over 100 rocket-propelled grenades, some 16-millimeter mortar tubes, three dozen rockets, 45,000 sticks of TNT and 80,000 feet of detonating cord, and several hundred thousand dollars in U.S. currency.
I can tell you I couldn't be more impressed with our forces or with their progress in Iraq. That's not to say that the work is not hard and that there is not still much to be done. The conditions there are difficult. When I visited, it was 110 degrees, and they said, "This is a cool day; it often gets up to 120 or more." It's dusty. Clearly, there remains a threat to the coalition forces. But these soldiers understand their mission and they accept their conditions, and we're working on the quality of life to make it better.
In India, I met with my Indian counterpart and discussed ongoing military-to-military ties between India and the United States. Not only is India's cooperation in the global war on terrorism significant, but the U.S.-India military cooperation continues to increase, an important fact given that India will soon have the largest population in the world.
In Pakistan, I met with my counterpart and his staff, where we discussed the ongoing operations on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coalition forces, including Pakistani forces, are continuing the military effort to trace Taliban and al Qaeda survivors. Pakistan is providing tremendous support to the United States in this regard. And they have stepped up troop levels and patrols on the country's borders with Afghanistan and, in the settled areas have detained the largest number of al Qaeda that we've captured; as most of you know, right around 500 al Qaeda captured in the settled areas in Pakistan, either by Pakistani units or in conjunction with U.S. and others.
In Afghanistan, I visited a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Gardez. If you remember, Gardez was the heart of the al Qaeda-Taliban movement. This is one of four -- three American-led and one British- led -- PRT teams in the country. The mission of these PRTs, if you will, is to help the interim government establish effective control over the country and to operate in environments where non-governmental organizations find it difficult to operate. The PRTs not only create a positive effect on how the Afghan people view the coalition, but in how the people view their government.
As in Iraq, I was impressed with the mission accomplishments and the progress that we're making. In general, I noticed that our biggest shortcoming from Iraq to Afghanistan is not the accomplishment of the mission as much as it is about getting the word out about the successes that we're achieving every day.
Morale among troops was very high. Their mission is difficult and they are doing great. I couldn't be more proud of these men and women who are serving our nation so well.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can we just ask you briefly about Liberia? West African troops, peacekeeping troops, are now in Liberia, and U.S. forces are afloat off Monrovia, waiting for a decision by the president on whether they will be sent in. Charles Taylor said that he doesn't plan to leave Liberia unless international charges are dropped against him. Do you have any reaction to that? And could U.S. forces be sent in in harm's way, or would they be strictly, if they are, in a support role, such as communications?
Rumsfeld: Well, Charles Taylor, president of Liberia, has had something to say almost every day or two for the past period of weeks. The statements have varied significantly, and trying to chase one and come to any conviction about what his -- he actually may or may not do in the period ahead, it seems to me, is probably something for the State Department and not me. I don't know what he'll ultimately do. I know that it's unanimous that -- everyone except that individual seemed to feel it would be best for the country if he would leave the country at an appropriate moment. Whether he will or not, time will tell. And I know of -- I've heard of nothing that suggests that the charges against him are likely to be dropped. I believe the charges are in Sierra Leone, if I'm not mistaken. But I -- don't go with that, because I'm just trying to remember. But --
Now, what the president may or may not decide to do is up to the president. And he's watching the situation very closely. We had a meeting this morning on secure video, where we discussed the Liberia situation. But we don't have any announcements to make at the moment.
Q: Is it likely, sir, that if any troops are sent in, it would be more likely in a support role, such as communications, rather than putting them in the streets, in harm's way, patrolling, that kind of thing? Or --
Rumsfeld: Well, what the president has said thus far he said on his trip to Africa, and that is the policy of the United States -- that he is concerned about humanitarian difficulties that are -- exist in the country, indeed exist in much of sub-Saharan Africa, to be frank. He's concerned about the situation in Liberia, from a humanitarian standpoint. He has encouraged the East African countries and the so-called ECOWAS [Economic Community Of West African States], nations to step forward, as they are now doing. As you point out, some of those troops are going in.
He has from the beginning said that any role for the United States would be to assist them and not to replace them. So we have been doing a variety of things, helping them assess their military capabilities, their equipment circumstances, their transportation circumstances, and undoubtedly would have a -- be in communication with the leaders of the ECOWAS force. But that's the sum total of the policy at the moment.
Q: Can I do a follow-up on that, please, Mr. Secretary? The ECOWAS forces are in, in a small number now, about 200, and may swell to about 3,200. Do you know what the --
Rumsfeld: What did you say?
Q: (Inaudible.) --
Rumsfeld: Based upon 32 -- where does that number come from?
Q: No. Well --
Rumsfeld: Start over with your question. So -- I don't want to answer a question that I don't agree with.
Q: All right. Well, I'll strike it, because it really isn't relevant.
What I want to find out is, what is the mission of ECOWAS? Is it simply to try and bring about a cease-fire, a permanent cease-fire, and end the civil war?
Rumsfeld: No --
Q: Or is it possible they would arrest Charles Taylor?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I am -- look, ECOWAS's mission will be provided by ECOWAS. My understanding of the ECOWAS mission is that it is not a peace-enforcing entity -- activity. It's not there to create a cease-fire. Their hope and expectation is that the United Nations and the ECOWAS negotiators outside the country will work out a cease-fire in the country among the three elements: the government forces, the LURD [Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy], the MODEL [Movement for Democracy in Liberia].
Now, whether that will actually occur or not, time will tell, but that is the expectation of the ECOWAS forces, as I understand it.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: General Myers, on the Liberia. If the U.S. commits a brigade set of soldiers, there's going to be inevitable cries from analysts and commentators that the U.S. is stretched too thin militarily and this is another example of them being stressed. From a purely military perspective, what problem would that cause, if you sent 2(,000) or 3,000 soldiers to Liberia, from just that military stress on the force perspective?
Myers: Tony, I think that's one too many what-ifs. The secretary's exactly right in describing the situation, describing what the U.S. is prepared to do. In terms of U.S. forces, we know right now that we're very busy in Afghanistan, we're very busy in Iraq. We've talked about -- our people have talked about the rotation scheme down here, so we have -- we are working that very hard. We're trying to put predictability into the lives of our soldiers, their families and the reservists and their employers. So all that is working. We have sufficient force to do what is required in the world today, however, so -- I mean, there is not a crisis in terms of that -- in that respect. But to try to "what-if" what would happen is --
Q: Okay. And one follow-up. Some commentators have said this could be another Somalia if the U.S. goes in there without a clear objective, and, you know, harkening to 10 years ago.
Myers: Let me assure you. Let me assure you this -- I'm not going to speak for the secretary, but I think I'll -- I think I can say for both of us --
Rumsfeld: Oh, go ahead. (Laughter.)
Myers: Okay, I'm going to speak.
There will be no commitment of troops anywhere in the world without some of the essentials that we need, and that is a clear mission, a clear end state, and sufficient force to do the job. That's not an issue. I don't know who's talking about Somalia. This is not the same situation. People that really care ought to figure out what's really going on in Liberia and then develop some of the intelligent options. But we're working that.
Q: For both of you.
Rumsfeld: What part of "yes" don't you understand? (Laughter.)
Q: (I thought it was over ?) my shoulder.
If you could both comment on this, I'd appreciate it.
Rumsfeld: Everyone else ask three questions, and you ask two people.
Q: But one question.
Rumsfeld: I see.
Q: A couple of months ago, at sort of the early phase of the post-war situation in Iraq, we heard quite a bit from this podium from you about foreign fighters showing up in Iraq -- Sudanese, Egyptians, Syrians. We haven't heard as much since then, and I wonder if you could both comment, especially, General, having just been there, about what the state of play is on that Are you finding less of them? Are there more of them? Have you detained them? Do you know where they're coming from? Just sort of a general update on the outside influences.
Rumsfeld: Go ahead.
Myers: While I was there -- and before I got in the country, I talked to General Abizaid in Qatar. Clearly, as he's explained in several -- several events, that his focus and their focus remains on the mid-level Ba'athists, former regime, because it appears that they're the ones that are opposing the coalition and opposing Iraqis, opposing success in that country right now.
At the same time, as you know, it's been now three, four weeks ago that there was an enclave of foreign fighters that were somewhere west of Baghdad, about two-thirds of the way to the border in tents in a camp -- encampment that fought very fiercely, but all 75 to 80 of them were killed in that engagement. They were all foreign fighters.
So, no one, I don't think, believes that there is not an infiltration of -- continued infiltration of -- potentially, of foreign fighters into that country.
The other part is the Ansar al-Islam, which was in Iraq before the war, is in Iraq now, is a potential threat. Some of those individuals have been captured in Baghdad and other parts of the country, are being interrogated. So, it's -- this is always, for at least in the near term, going to be a potential threat that we're going to have to deal with.
Q: But you don't see an increase --
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Two questions. One, okay, is there anything about the bombing in Jakarta that you can share with us? And number two --
Rumsfeld: I don't know any information on it other than what you've seen.
Q: Okay. The search for Saddam, which we understand is going to great lengths, a lot of different missions outstanding, he's moving around a lot -- can you share any details on that?
Rumsfeld: Well, I can. It's interesting. I mean, someone says, "Are you getting closer?" And some people say yes and some people say no, and I say I don't know, because you don't know if you're closer till you get him. And I find the whole thing kind of amusing. I noticed -- you've got to appreciate the folks that are trying to find him are enthusiastic. And they think they're getting closer. And I'm for that! I like that enthusiasm. But if you ask me -- (Chuckles.) -- "Are we getting closer?," I'll say, "I'll let you know when we catch him." Until you have him, you don't have him. And we need to find him, and we're going to find him.
Q: General Myers?
Q: General Myers, while we're on the search questions, you mentioned al Qaeda and searching in the Pakistan and Afghanistan area. Understanding that we don't have him till we have him, can you bring us up to date on the hunt for Osama bin Laden? Do you still believe that he is in that Afghanistan-Pakistan area?
Myers: Well, I think -- there's a question of whether he's alive or not. If he's alive, a lot of people believe that the region he is in is in the -- that border area where the terrain is very rugged and where he might find people sympathetic to his outlook on life.
And beyond that, it's one of those things, just like Saddam Hussein, that we'll continue to keep pressure on those kind of individuals. It's another -- it's important. It's one more step. You know, if we were to get Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri today, it would not end the threat from al Qaeda. They are -- they have morphed into an organization that is not as hierarchical as it previously was, more of a network today. And so it would just be one step. It would be obviously a big step, but just one step in working the whole international terrorism piece.
Q: But unlike the search for Saddam, it seems like the tips are not coming in, as opposed to the search for Saddam, where we're being told at least that your intelligence is being developed for that.
Myers: I wouldn't make that assumption -- just because you haven't heard of what's going on, that there's nothing --
Q: Can you tell us how that's going?
Myers: No, I'd prefer -- it gets into the operational details, intelligence details, and that's just something that is quite sensitive.
Q: Mr. Secretary, going back to Liberia, you and president probably saw the pictures with the first vanguard troops of the African troops arriving and the cheers that resulted, and also the landing of some humanitarian supplies at the airport. I wondered what your reaction to that was. Do you find that encouraging, and does that perhaps bolster any idea to help them with some support and just logistics?
Rumsfeld: Well, as I said, the president said in Africa that he wanted to assist. And we have been, and we are.
The -- it's encouraging that the advance elements of the ECOWAS force have been well received. That's a good thing. And certainly there is a need for humanitarian assistance -- food, water, medicine.
The city, as you know, was normally, I think, in the 600,000 range. It's estimated now -- although, needless to say, they're not doing a census -- of something in excess of a million-one.
One has to anticipate that to the extent that a cease-fire holds, and the environment is more permissive, and humanitarian workers and aid can get into the port, that it will serve as a bit of a magnet to attract still more people in.
So the problem is -- is what it is today and is likely to grow, in terms of the numbers of people, I think it's reasonable to say, to the extent that there is success in creating a more permissive environment.
Q: I'm curious for your assessment on al Qaeda at this point. In a week when we've seen a tape from Zawahiri, the potential Indonesia bombing being related to them, your assessment on the type of threat they pose today, almost two years later?
Also, with respect to your view now on whether you think the evidence is still pretty solid there was any al Qaeda in Iraq -- and it's very clear there are top al Qaeda being sheltered in Iran. Would you like to see Iran give those people up? How much pressure can we put on Iran to do that?
Rumsfeld: I think of the tapes as promotional. I think of them as recruiting devices and financing devices to say to the world, "We're alive, we're functioning; please send money, send recruits," essentially. And I expect that they'll continue until the folks that like to make those tapes are captured or killed.
With respect to Iraq, the Central Intelligence Agency has announced that there had been al Qaeda in Iraq, and I don't have anything to add to that -- what the Central Intelligence Agency has said.
With respect to Iran, there -- it is correct that there have been and are today senior al Qaeda in Iran. And -- (Pauses.) -- to the extent that they're able to operate and function from there, that's harmful. To the extent that they're in one way or another not being allowed to function and operate out of there, that's better. To the extent they would be handed over to us, it would be excellent. The chances of that happening, apparently, are about zero. To the extent that they might be handed over to some country of their nationality, presuming it's a country that has a minimum of high regard for al Qaeda, that would be a good thing. And how it will play out remains to be seen.
Q: Mr. Secretary, how do you assess the recent meeting that you had with the Turkish foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, with the presence of Paul Bremer -- (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: We had a very good meeting with the foreign minister of Turkey. And I had Ambassador Bremer with me. He happened to be in town. Had an excellent meeting. I know that the foreign minister met with any number of people -- the vice president, Secretary Powell -- and it was an excellent meeting. We're delighted that he was visiting our country.
Q: General Myers, it was reported by a Greek magazine, Nemesis - N-E-M-E-S-I-S (sic) -- (Inaudible.) -- communication with the Turkish counterpart, General Ozkok, you told him, quote, "It is not necessary to be in northern Iraq. We are going to disarm PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party]," unquote. May I have your comment?
Myers: Well, I do call my Turkish counterpart from time to time. Don't remember ever saying anything like that to my counterpart. I'd be surprised if we would reveal it. I certainly wouldn't reveal it. So, they've got somebody with a very good imagination there in Greece.
Q: General Myers?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: You've got a lot of Special Forces operating in western Iraq. Have you found any sort of indication of Scud missiles or anything? That's obviously one of the reasons why you had them there in the first place.
Rumsfeld: The Iraqi Survey Group is looking for a variety of things, and as are others in the country. They have been to a number of the so-called suspect sites. There are still some suspect sites that they have not yet covered that are within our control, however. The -- David Kay was here, and indicated publicly that his intention is to proceed with their work as -- and General Dayton was with him -- and to take what they find as a result of talking to people; analyze it, discuss it and make a judgment as to when they think it's appropriate to discuss it publicly. And they will then present it to us, and we'll have an opportunity to see what it is and know that there isn't a misstep. That is to say you don't want to say this is something when it's not. So it takes time, and you check it.
I don't happen to know of any Scud missiles that have been found. I did -- was amused to see the photographs of the Russian jet aircraft that were buried under ground, and we hadn't known that. We'd heard a great -- many things had been buried, but we had not known where they were, and we'd been operating in that immediate vicinity for weeks and weeks and weeks -- what? -- 12, 13 weeks -- and didn't know they were. And there were -- I don't -- forgotten how many airplanes there were, but it was a -- it wasn't one or two. And no one knew they were there. How can you know? You can't know.
If there's a classic example, something as big as an airplane that's within, you know, a stone's throw of where you're functioning, and you don't know it's there because you don't run around digging into everything on a discovery process. So until you find somebody who tells you where to look, or until nature clears some sand away and exposes something over time, we're simply not going to know. But, as we all know, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Q: Mr. Secretary, back to al Qaeda in Iran. You mentioned a moment ago that you thought there was a zero chance that Iran would turn over any al Qaeda they have.
Rumsfeld: (To us. ?)
Q: To the U.S., right. There have also been reports that the U.S. has been conducting indirect negotiations with Iran to try to gain those al Qaeda. Does that mean that the U.S. has given up those talks? Or do they continue --
Rumsfeld: I just was expressing a personal view.
Q: Well, what can you tell us about those attempts to negotiate?
Rumsfeld: Oh, just what I told you.
Q: (Off mike.)
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: It's been said often here, including again today, that resources exist to meet all the multiple missions and responsibilities around the world, but General Schoomaker said that, when he was on Capitol Hill, that he thinks the army needs to be bigger. He said, "I think we need more people. It's that simple." Is he right? Wrong? What's your reaction?
Rumsfeld: I unfortunately did not see what he said. I don't think he said what you said he said.
Q: Yes sir, he did.
Q: Yes, sir, he did.
Rumsfeld: Say what you said he said. (Laughter.)
Q: He said, "I think we need more people; it's that simple."
Rumsfeld: That simple. Well, he saw a headline after that hearing and mentioned to me the next time I saw him that he did not feel that that is -- represented what he had said. Now, rather than getting -- first of all, he's a terrific officer and he's going to do a great job, and he has every right to have his own views on things.
He and I and the general, Myers, all know the following things. We know, number one, that we have a lot of commitments around the world. We know that they're larger than they normally are. We know that some of them have been there for quite a while. The Sinai is two decades; Bosnia and Kosovo -- Bosnia, what now, six, eight years. Iraq and Afghanistan -- Afghanistan, a year and a half; Iraq, 12, 15, 18 month -- weeks.
When we look at this problem -- and it's a very fair question to ask and it's an important issue to address, and we're addressing it. We're analyzing precisely what we believe the situation to be so that we can develop conviction. And to the extent we need more or less end strength, obviously, we would ask the Congress for it. We wouldn't have a bias one way or another on it.
We do believe that the following things are available to reduce the stress on the force: A more efficient deployment and redeployment process; the kinds of things the Navy's doing to reduce the number of individuals it takes to man a ship, by a significant fraction; the rebalancing the reserve component with the active force component so that we don't have to have the kinds of call-ups that we do now; using larger numbers of coalition forces to the extent we can be successful in bringing them aboard; in the case of Iraq, rapidly filling the Army and the civil defense element and the police with Iraqis to perform those kinds of functions; to the extent we can continue to -- and we believe we can -- continue the drawdown in Bosnia and Kosovo; continue to put pressure, as we've been doing, on the Sinai, on other countries where we have commitments -- correction -- where we have deployments that made a lot of sense when they were initiated but make less sense today; to address the subject of the some 300,000 -- 300,000, possibly 320,000, possibly more, people in uniform who are doing tasks that do not require people in uniform.
We need to get the personnel system passed by the Congress so that we have the ability to manage our civil service system, and not have to constantly put military people into positions that don't require military people. It's -- depending on who you talk to, it's either 300,000, 320,000 or 380,000 people. That is a pile of people. They need to be doing military functions.
Now, there are -- Pete Pace has been working with the vice chiefs and the JROC on what's called operational availability, which is another way of improving that. The war plans, the contingency plans that we have for various kinds of activities, are being reanalyzed to take a look and see, are they -- are they logical, given the increased lethality of our, quote, capabilities, which was demonstrated in Afghanistan and demonstrated in Iraq. And, to the extent that work is being done, we are finding that, in fact, mass is interesting, but not necessarily determinative. And they are looking at other ways of achieving the kinds of effects that are desired in those contingency plans, and we find that often it requires fewer people than the existing information.
I could go on with five, six, eight, ten more examples of places that we can use the stress on the force to get our act together, and to do a better job managing the taxpayers' money, and to do a better job managing our force in a way that's more respectful of the Guard and Reserve and their employers and their families. And I believe that it would be, at the moment -- I don't believe that anyone that I've talked to has evidence that argues that we have done those kinds of things sufficiently effectively that one could make a current case for increasing end-strength.
Now, the topping on that is what General Myers and the chiefs have been doing in the tank by testing to see whether or not we think we've got sufficient forces to do what we're currently doing and still be able to deal with the kinds of potential problems that conceivably could occur in the world beyond where we're currently committed. And the answer is: General Myers. (Laughter.)
Myers: And the fact that we've done these right along -- in fact, we have another one planned for this month to look at exactly some of those issues -- I mean, in fact, specifically those issues. So we'll know more when we come out of that.
Let me just mention one other thing to add to that list. One of the most expensive things you can do in the Department of Defense is hire somebody; 60 percent of our budget is in the personnel line, so with the health care, all that, all those pieces. It's a very expensive solution. And it's not a solution that comes on line right away. You can authorize it, even provide the money for it, but it takes you time to recruit, train and so forth. So it's not an immediate solution to any of the issues that people want to raise right now.
And so it -- therefore, you -- if you're going to do it, you're going to have to live with it, probably, for a long time, and you better think that through carefully, since that's a significant part of your budget. And --
Q: General Myers --
Q: Could you clarify --
Rumsfeld: One -- I -- it's way over our time, and I'm going to wind this up, except to say one thing I forgot is the use of contractors. We can also make more effective use of contractors. We need the laws changed. That -- we're allowed to use contractors for various types of force protection, which are, from time to time, limited, and we are restricted in doing those kinds of things.
But we have a big department. We have a -- we're absolutely open-minded about how many people we have in the services. We want to have the right number. And the way to get to the right number is not the first time you feel the effects of a spike in activity, as we do right now with Iraq, immediately decide, "Well, the solution's to that to increase end strength." For me, respectful of the taxpayers -- that's a good sign -- by golly, now we get about the task of really running this place right and seeing that we're respectful of the taxpayers' dollars and see that we make the most effective use of the force. And that's what we're in the process of doing.
And I think if you talk to General Schoomaker, he knows all that, because we've discussed it with him. And I don't believe you'll find that there's a lot of daylight between his views or Dick Myers' or mine or any of the other chiefs. I don't -- I just don't -- I don't know that for sure, but he's going to be a terrific chief of staff.
Q: (Inaudible.) -- the Reserve component?
Q: It seems like many of the things that you're in process -- that you're talking about -- many of these things might take some time to come to fruition. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but are you saying right now we're going to wait to see how some of these things come out before we think about the end strength? I don't understand exactly about the process, how long it would take and how long --
Rumsfeld: Okay. We have been working on these things for a year and a half, two years, two and a half years -- some of them of them two and a half, some two, some a year and a half, some a year. We're making progress on them. And we've got a big incentive to make better progress on them, and we intend to do that.
As I said -- well, let me make second -- repeat what Dick said. He said it takes a long time, when you bring a person on board, before you've effectively increased your end strength in a way that they're trained and ready and organized and capable of going out and adding the kinds of skill sets that are needed for end strength. So that takes time.
It takes some time to do some of these other things as well, although some don't. They just require a stroke of a pen by the Congress, so that we can do a better job in managing our force.
So what we're doing is, we are monitoring what's -- what it looks like in terms of our ability to work with what we currently have. And thus far, the analysis that's been done by the -- by Pete Pace and his people indicates that we're fine.
Now, perfect? No. Can we do everything at once? No. Could we ever? No. But I can assure you that if at some point, the circumstances in the world are such that the president and the congress and the country believe that we need to be doing so many things that it appropriately calls for an increase in end strength, we certainly would ask for an increase in end strength. We do not have a bias for it or against it. What we have is a bias for seeing that we serve the country well, and that we're capable of doing what this department's asked and that we do it in the most cost-effective way possible. And we've got a lot of work to do to make this department a more effective and a more efficient place. And we're doing it. And I thank you. It's awfully nice to see you all. (Laughter.)