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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers Monday, May 16, 2005

Media Availability Following Testimony at a Hearing of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC)

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon, folks. We'll take two or -- General Myers and I would be happy to take a question or two, and then we're --

            Q I'll ask you about this Koran story, right off the top. What do you make of that?

            GEN. MYERS: I think what we make of it is that, despite our review of the situation, we can't find anything to substantiate the allegations that appeared in Newsweek magazine. And we've looked at, I think, something like -- reviewed 25,000 documents, and there's no indication that anything like that happened. other than what I mentioned in the press conference the other day, one last week, where I think more -- now more than one detainee tore pages out of the Koran and put it in the toilet in protest, to stop up the toilet. But we've not found where -- any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. service members.

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Just to step back for a second, I think it was Mark Twain who said that something that's not true can speed around the world three or four times in a matter of seconds, while truth is still trying to put their boots on. And people have said, my goodness, why does it take so long for someone to come back and with -- have the actual facts? Well, it takes a long time to be truthful, to be responsible. It takes a long time to review 25,000 documents, which is what they've had to do.

And the only other thing I'd say about it is, people lost their lives. People are dead. And that's unfortunate. And people need to be very careful about what they say, and just as people need to be careful abut what they do.


            Q Assistance to local communities. How much will be made available? And what will be the criteria, please?

            SEC. RUMSFELD: There are a variety of different provisions that involve personnel assistance and community assistance. And it is managed through various departments of the federal government. And the president clearly is attentive to this and has encouraged the Department of Labor, Department of Commerce and Department of Defense and other departments to be -- to recognize the impact that change of this type can have on local communities. And it's real and it's personal. And we simply have to do the best possible job.

            To the extent that the BRAC commission follows some of those recommendations and the president does and the Congress does, there will be some dislocations.

I would also add, as my testimony indicated, there are any number of instances where villages and towns and cities have done vastly better as a result of base adjustments. It's hard to see when the change is upon you, but change is just simply always hard, and the government stands ready to be of assistance.

            Q Do you have a ballpark on the number of -- how much money will be available for assistance all told?

            SEC. RUMSFELD: No, it depends on the various departments and Congress and a whole host of things.

            Q (Inaudible) -- base closings, partly because of the decision to reduce leased space, which suggests that latter decision was relatively recent. Can you say a little more about that?

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, one of the new factors in this base closing and realignment -- to avoid the acronym -- one of the new factors is the subject of force protection. It's a different world today than it was previously, and very few instances where leased space will provide the kind of force protection that is considered preferable and desirable. And the -- so for that reason, it is something that is going to be reviewed over across the country. And it has already been reviewed in some parts of the country, and affected this BRAC.

            I'll take one more question. Yes, sir?

            Q (Inaudible) -- of recruitment and retention, particularly the Reserve and the Guards -- where do you get your confidence that this is -- that these closures can be accomplished without affecting that in a negative way?

            GEN. MYERS: In the case of the Army National Guard, the idea is for the realignments and closures that came out of the secretary's recommendations came from the adjunct generals of the various states. That -- I mean, they were fully, fully bought into this process. And of course, one of the things they care about and one of the things we have to look at in our criteria is any effect it might have on the force.

            So it was. I think in the other cases it was considered as well, in every case it was considered as an important part of it.

            And, you know, as I said in the hearing, because we're realigning, because in the case of the Air National Guard aircraft, and in this case Air Force Reserve, too, aircraft may be going somewhere else, missions stay. Missions stay and they're just a different type of mission. In some cases, they're a much more relevant mission for the future than the old mission in aircraft for instance, particularly in command and control, unmanned aerial vehicles, and so forth. So we think all that will work.

            SEC. RUMSFELD: I'd just end by saying I think the important thing to appreciate is that the services and the combatant commanders and the members in the Department of Defense have spent years in preparing these recommendations. It is hard work. It involved millions of pieces of data. The task is over. It is now in the hands of this commission. And this commission will hold hearings and it will hear from people, and it will learn more things and have hearings. And that's a good thing. And then it'll go to the president. And then it'll go to the Congress.

            So this process is one that was based in statute. It is one that has been transparent. It has had the principal interest being military value, throughout, and that is at the root of these recommendations.

            As I mentioned in the hearing, I did not make a single change in the recommendations because I was involved in the process, I was involved in receiving periodic reports and reviews. And when I looked at the totality of it and the linkages among the various proposals in the services, it struck me that to try to reach in and pull a thread out of the center of that and -- or to adjust something would have non-intuitive effects and implications throughout the system that I felt argued for me to do what I did, and that is to send it on to the commission.

            Thank you, folks.

            Q Thank you.


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