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Rumsfeld Says Unconventional Enemies Seek Powerful Weapons

12 January 2006

Full cooperation of nations needed in global War on Terror

Washington –- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says military and civilian leaders share “a great sense of urgency” as they confront enemies who seek increasingly powerful weapons as part of their arsenal of terrorism.

Recognizing the difficulty of trying to defend “against every conceivable type of asymmetric attack” around the world -- 24 hours a day -- requires the complete cooperation of many nations, he told reporters at a Pentagon news conference January 12.

That full cooperation is needed “for us to do almost anything in this global war on terror, effectively,” the secretary said, including working to close the bank accounts terrorists need to fund their operations.

He spoke to reporters following three days of consultations with his regional commanders about future military planning contingencies.

Rumsfeld and his commanders discussed how to address military requirements in the ongoing struggle against violent extremists.  Hostile forces may be located in nations that are friendly or unfriendly, he said.

“Some of those countries have well-developed military capabilities that can be brought to bear and some ... lack well-developed military capabilities," the secretary added.

No one knows for sure, now, what decisions will turn out to be decisive in a future conflict, Rumsfeld said.  “Our responsibility is to minimize the limits we place on future strategies, [and] maximize the flexibility we make possible,” he said, “because tomorrow’s threats are certain to be significant and unpredictable.”

Military leaders cannot be sure of what kinds of wars will be fought in the decades ahead, but “we do know what our priorities have to be, and certainly they include preparing for unforeseen eventualities from full-scale combat operations to counterinsurgency missions, stability operations and homeland defense,” he said.  The Defense Department, he added, must be organized to battle against “agile and unconventional enemies that are tied to no nation-state, are unencumbered by bureaucracies, and use terror, propaganda and indiscriminate violence to try and exhaust our will and advance their radical aims.”

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the first to be issued since the war on terrorism began in 2001, “will set conditions that will encourage improvisation and flexibility,” Rumsfeld said.  The QDR will be sent to Congress in February.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, said he and Rumsfeld concluded their consultations with regional commanders with dozens of pages of notes on issues for additional deliberations.  Rumsfeld said the subject of intelligence was discussed extensively.  Another subject was the recognition that at any time, U.S. military personnel must stand ready to serve as soldiers, diplomats, engineers, law enforcement officers or humanitarians, he said.

Rumsfeld was asked about an article written by a British Army officer who worked in Iraq that criticizes the cultural insensitivity, and other attributes, demonstrated by U.S. Army personnel in the battle against Iraq’s insurgency.  The secretary said he had not had a chance to read Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster’s commentary, but he said it would be a mistake to think that “one size fits all situations” in solving problems in Iraq or elsewhere.

Pace said the article was included in the Army’s professional journal, Military Review, as a way to promote dialogue.  “If only 1 percent of what he said turns out to be something that needs to be adjusted … then we’re all the better off for it,” he said.

The article is available on the Military Review Web site.

Asked for his opinion about the latest nuclear power developments in Iran, Rumsfeld said the subject best would be best left to the foreign policy experts at the White House and State Department. (See related article.)

The transcript of Rumsfeld’s briefing is available on Defense Department’s Web site.

For additional information, see International Security.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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