Pentagon Briefing

 

Monday  June 30, 2003
(War on terrorism; Iraq/security; Saddam Hussein; Syrian border
incident; troop levels in Iraq; internationalization of forces in
Iraq; NATO/Iraq; Liberia) (5730)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, General Richard Myers briefed.

Following is the transcript of the Pentagon briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Monday, June 30, 2003 - 1:25 p.m. EDT

(Also participating Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff.)

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. This Friday Americans will mark the 227th
anniversary of our country's independence. We do so in a time of war,
when our forces are engaged across the globe, defending our people
against adversaries who have a desire to kill innocent men, women and
children, and disrupt our way of life. And as we stop to give thanks
for our freedom, we also give thanks for those who make our freedom
possible: the men and women of our armed forces.

This year in Iraq, Americans saw our forces in action, but it
important to remember that Operation Iraqi Freedom was just one battle
in a difficult and dangerous war that is still going on: the global
war on terror. Today and every day, brave men and women are fighting
that war, risking their lives to defend our people from terrorism. On
July 4th, a grateful nation stops to thank them all.

As we celebrate our liberty, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on
the challenges that our country faced in its early years. It was a
period of chaos and confusion. Our revolution was followed by a
serious commercial depression. Britain's colonial ports were -- in the
West Indies were closed to ships flying the American flag. There was
rampant inflation and no stable currency.

Discontent led to uprisings, such as the Shays Rebellion, with mobs
attacking courthouses and government buildings. In 1783 demobilized
soldiers from the Continental Army surrounded the statehouse in
Philadelphia, demanding back pay. Congress fled for more than six
months, meeting in Princeton, Trenton and finally Annapolis, to avoid
angry mobs.

Our first attempt at governing charter, the Articles of Confederation,
failed, in a sense. It took eight years before the Founders finally
adopted our Constitution and inaugurated our first president.

That history is worth remembering as we consider the difficulties that
the Afghans and the Iraqis face today. The transition to democracy is
never easy. Coalition forces drove Iraq's terrorist leaders from
power, but unlike traditional adversaries that we've faced in wars
past, who sign a surrender document, hand over their weapons, the
remnants of the Ba'ath regime and the Fedayeen death squads faded into
the population and have reverted to a terrorist network. We are
dealing with those remnants in a forceful fashion, just as we have had
to deal with the remnants of al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and
tribal areas near Pakistan.

Those battles will go on for some time. The liberation of Iraq is
complete; the regime has been removed from power and will not be
permitted to return. But our war with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan
and across the globe continues. It will not be over any time soon. As
Jefferson taught us two centuries ago, the price of liberty is eternal
vigilance.

General Myers.

Myers:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

I'd like to begin with extending my condolences to the families of
those soldiers who were killed and wounded over the weekend in Iraq.
As the nation stops this weekend for backyard festivities, we must
remember those Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, as well
as those forces who are deployed around the globe.

Our forces continue to engage in raids to root out elements that are
endangering our troops and trying to prevent Iraq from staying on its
path to becoming a free society. We completed Operation Desert
Scorpion over the weekend, which resulted in over thirteen hundred
individuals being detained, we confiscated 500 AK-47s, over 200 hand
grenades, and over a thousand -- I'm sorry, one hundred
rocket-propelled grenades. U.S. forces have also recovered over $9
million U.S. and 1.5 billion in Iraqi dinars.

Yesterday we commenced Operation Sidewinder. The purpose of Sidewinder
is to establish a secure and stable environment within the area of
operations by clearing, destroying or seizing paramilitary forces,
Ba'ath loyalists and weapons and ammo caches. Elements of the 4th
Infantry Division have already conducted 27 raids associated with
Operation Sidewinder since it began on Sunday, and, as a result of
those raids, 61 individuals have been detained and several machine
guns and assorted other ammunition confiscated.

Finally, as we move toward the 4th of July holiday, I would like to
acknowledge the many communities around the country who are
participating and hosting Tribute to Freedom events. These events
symbolize the unification of our communities and our military and
serve to recognize our uniformed men and women who have served and
continue to serve in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world. And
they do that so we may enjoy the freedom of our independence.

It's also an opportunity to thank all Americans for their unwavering
support of our troops.

And with that, we'll take your questions.

Q: Mr. Secretary, General, what evidence do you have that the recent
raids staged by U.S. forces have succeeded in knocking out the Iraqis
responsible for recent attacks on U.S. and British forces? And what
concern do you have that the U.S. show of force in these raids could
actually antagonize ordinary Iraqis, perhaps increasing unrest, rather
than the intended consequences of doing it?

Rumsfeld: Well, clearly, you can't have evidence that your raids will
stop future attacks. Indeed, I just said quite to the contrary. We
expect various types of attacks to continue in both countries.

If you think of what exists in Iraq, for example, you have looters who
take advantage of opportunities that exist from time to time, just as
they do in other countries around the world, when there's an
earthquake or a sporting event or something. You have criminals that
were let out of prison; the guess is tens of thousands of the Iraqi
prisoners were put out on the street. You have the remnants of the
Saddam Hussein regime: the Ba'athists, the Fedayeen Saddam, some army
people, some Special Republican Guard people, some SSO (Special
Security Organization) people. You have the -- if you'll recall,
busloads of people came in from other countries, Syrians and -- over
the Syrian border. We stopped some buses, others got in. And we are --
when we scoop up people in these raids, we find people from other
nations who came there to oppose the regime -- correction, to oppose
to the coalition. There are clearly people that are being influenced
by Iran.

And if you take that full spectrum of people that are there to oppose
the coalition and, frankly, the Iraqi people, who are -- the damage
that's being done for the most part is to the infrastructure, and
which is harmful to the Iraqi people.

So what one has to do is to keep putting pressure on all of those
categories and know that no one raid or five raids is going to deal
with the entire problem. The problem's going to be dealt with over
time as the Iraqis assume more and more responsibility for their own
country and are able to have an Iraqi face on the activities that are
taking place in that country, which are for the benefit of the Iraqi
people.

Q:  May I do a follow-up, please, Mr. Secretary?

Myers: Let me just add something to that, and that is that the
evidence in terms of what we're seeing and what we're being told by
Ambassador Bremer and by folks in theater is that more and more Iraqis
are helping the coalition find weapons caches and people that were
regime officials that we want. And I think that's one measure of merit
that we can look at that is a very positive trend.

Q: May I do a follow-up to all this, please, Mr. Secretary and General
Myers? How important is it to find Saddam Hussein and his sons alive
or dead? We're getting reports out of Baghdad that a lot of the
anti-opposition to American forces and British forces is because of
fear; some people think he will come back. And is part of Operation
Sidewinder an effort to find them?

Rumsfeld: Well, as I have indicated, our first choice is to find all
three of them. I think that the absence of closure is unhelpful in two
respects. Number one, there are some who hope that they might come
back, because they were privileged during the period they were there;
they were part of the Ba'athist hierarchy. There are also those who
are fearful that he'll come back or they'll come back. They're not
going to come back, that's for sure. They may be alive, they may be
dead. We may find them sooner or later. But the absence of closure has
the effect I've described, which is unhelpful.

Q:  But may I do a follow-up --

Rumsfeld: A follow-up on your own follow-up. I think -- (Inaudible.).
(Laughter.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, could you provide additional details since we last
talked to you about the June 18th episode near the Syrian border, in
terms of what you know now about the role of the Syrians, and how they
came to be involved and how many people were killed, that sort of
thing?

Rumsfeld: I can try. I'm sure there are people that -- Larry can get
precise details and Dick can calibrate me, but the five Syrians were
wounded; they were treated; they're all back in Syria. There were
something like 20 people captured, and some 17 were immediately
released, and I don't know the disposition of the other two or three.

(To Gen. Myers.) Do you?

Myers: I do not. As of Friday, they were still in -- still being
interrogated.

Rumsfeld: There's nothing anyone can add, I don't think, that would be
helpful from our standpoint, beyond saying that we had good
intelligence, and it indicated that there were people moving, during
their curfew, close to the border in a convoy of SUVs (sport utility
vehicles), and our forces went in and stopped them.

Q: Do the Syrians have any -- play a part in facilitating the movement
of people back and forth?

Rumsfeld: I don't know that we've got perfect visibility into that
question. We have things that would suggest that someone on the Syrian
side was involved, but whether it was the Syrians, quote/unquote, as
you put it -- meaning people connected the government, I take it --

Q:  (Off mike.) -- I meant the --

Rumsfeld: Connected with the government, yeah. That I haven't got a
definitive answer to. (Aside to Gen. Myers.) Do you?

Myers:  No, I agree with that statement.

Q: Mr. Secretary, could I ask about troop levels? General Abizaid was
testifying last week and he talked about that there would be a
re-evaluation at the end of the month. We're now at the end of the
month; do you plan to add more troops or will you be pulling some
troops back from Iraq?

Rumsfeld: I've asked General Myers and the combatant command at
CENTCOM to come back in an orderly way and walk through the amount of
time that each unit that's in the country has been there, what the
plans are, what their proposals are for a rotation of people, what the
timing is of bringing in coalition forces and what the CENTCOM people
feel they need by way of forces and what kinds of forces. And I
understand, in his hearing, General Abizaid mentioned that he hoped to
be able to do that by sometime this month. He's just gotten back
there; he's going to be coming back here for the change-of-command
ceremony in Tampa shortly after the 4th. And my guess is -- I don't
want to put a timetable on him, but my guess is sometime between now
and mid-month --

Myers:  Yes, sir.

Rumsfeld: -- you all will be back at me with an indication of what a
proposal is. Is that not right?

Myers:  Yes, sir.

Q: Do you have any comment on that, General Myers, on whether we need
more troops or whether U.S. troops can be withdrawn?

Myers: I'm going to wait until Central Command does their analysis and
gets back to us, I think, before we answer that in any definitive way.
As you know, we have just under 150,000 U.S. troops, and I think it's
around a little over 12,000 coalition troops in-theater right now. We
have two international, if you will, divisions that are gearing up to
come in as well. So, as we look at all that and we work the troop
rotation issue, it all kind of ties together.

Rumsfeld: It also is a function of what Ambassador Bremer judges are
the kinds of things he may need, and a function of what General Dayton
believes he needs, by way of capability, with respect to the Iraqi
Survey Group that's pursuing a variety of high-interest activities. I
can say this: we have -- do not now and have not had any requests for
anything that has not been supplied.

So we don't have anything pending that has not been deployed and
provided.

Q:  I'd like to follow up on that troop level --

Q: Mr. Secretary, over the weekend some members of the Senate from
both parties said they thought it was important to internationalize
the forces, whether through the U.N. or through NATO or regional
troops, to get away from the impression that it is strictly an
American occupation of Iraq. I just wonder what your reaction is to
what they had to say.

Rumsfeld: Well, obviously everyone agrees. We've been working for
several months internationalizing it. We have I don't know how many
countries currently in there -- the U.S. and the U.K. And there are, I
think, one or two other countries that have forces in. We've had at
least two international force-generation meetings that have taken
place -- one in New York, I believe, one in England, and I think one
at CENTCOM -- maybe three.

The process -- we've been in discussions with something in excess of
20 nations about what they will be able to provide. I don't know how
anyone can internationalize it more than that. The effort has been
going on for weeks and weeks and weeks.

We have -- the military have been working with them as to what they're
able to supply. For example, in the case of Italy, they have some
Carabinieri, and in the case of other countries they've all specified
the things they can offer up. And what CENTCOM has to do, then, is to
take them and mix and match, in a way, so that they have assignments
and know what kind of equipment they have to bring in, and then
schedule the flow in. And that's been going on for weeks.

But we all agree with that.  No one disagrees at all.

Q: Do you anticipate any time in the near future a large number of
other countries' forces in Iraq?

Rumsfeld: We have been working for weeks to bring in additional
countries' forces into Iraq. The flow, I believe -- I don't know -- of
course, it's already started. We have three or four countries there
now. (To the general.) But when do they -- it's in July and August and
September --

Myers: The flow would start in August and probably -- or July, August
and probably finish out in September. And it's -- right now there are
two divisions, one led by Poland, one led by the United Kingdom, that
would initially be in there. There's a potential for a third.

Q:  Can I just clarify --

Rumsfeld:  But they would not be solely those countries.

Myers:  Right.

Rumsfeld: There would be a number of countries in the divisions led by
the three --

Myers: There are five or six countries or more involved in each one of
those divisions.

Q: So can you clarify that number? I think General Pace told one of
the congressional committees about 20,000 foreign troops by the end of
the summer. Does that 20,000 include the roughly 12,000 British forces
that are there now, or is that above and beyond the 12,000?

Rumsfeld: I think the -- some of the British forces will be rotating
out, and my guess is, it'll -- the 20(thousand) that he -- I'd have to
go back and see what he said, but my guess is it included --

Q: So we're talking 8,000, roughly, new forces then, correct, with
that 20(thousand)?

Rumsfeld:  It depends on new and old.  You mean additional --

Q:  That's correct.

Rumsfeld: -- as opposed to new. There will be a lot of new with
rotation.

Q:  But 8,000 additional --

Rumsfeld: I hate to correct you like that, what that means --
(Laughter.) --

Q:  That's okay.

Rumsfeld: -- but above all, precision. We wouldn't want people to go
away misunderstanding.

Myers: That may be roughly right. We better go check the math, though,
to make sure that's exactly right, but I think the secretary is
exactly right, what he said. And a third division may be --

Q: Mr. Secretary, you're working with these other countries, but are
you working institutionally with NATO? It seems as though there's a
reluctance to bring NATO in as an institution.

Rumsfeld: It seems as though there's a reluctance to bring NATO in? I
don't know that that's the case. The NATO is in the process of doing
two things right now. One is getting prepared to take over the ISAF
(International Security Assistance Force) role in Afghanistan. And a
second thing they're doing is working with Poland right now to assist
Poland in the responsibilities that Poland has agreed to undertake in
Iraq. Whether or not NATO might ultimately come in as a single entity
in some role in Iraq, I don't know. That would be a matter for the 19
NATO nations to sort through.

Q:  Is that something the United States would favor?

Rumsfeld: We have been encouraging NATO to become more involved, yes,
and encouraged them to assist Poland. We also have encouraged them to
undertake the responsibility for ISAF in Afghanistan.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask you about a couple of words and
phrases that keep popping up in the commentary about what's going on.
One of them is "guerrilla war," and the other one is "quagmire." Now,
I know you've admonished us not to --

Rumsfeld:  I never have admonished you.

Q: -- not to rush to any judgment about a quagmire just because things
are getting tough. But can you remind us again why this isn't a
quagmire? And can you tell us why you're so reluctant to say that
what's going on in Iraq now is a guerrilla war?

Rumsfeld: I'll do my best. I guess the reason I don't use the phrase
"guerrilla war" is because there isn't one, and it would be a
misunderstanding and a miscommunication to you and to the people of
the country and the world. If you think what I just answered on the
first question -- looters, criminals, remnants of the Ba'athist
regime, foreign terrorists who came in to assist and try to harm the
coalition forces, and those influenced by Iran -- I would say that
those are five, if that was five items, five different things.

They're all slightly different in why they're there and what they're
doing. That is -- doesn't make it anything like a guerrilla war or an
organized resistance. It makes it like five different things going on
that are functioning much more like terrorists.

I mean, if you think of what the Ba'athists and the remnants are
doing, well, think what they did during the war, the Fedayeen Saddam.
They put civilian clothes on, went around and took women and children
and shoved them in front of them in Basra, as I recall, during the
early part of the war, and attempted to use human shields and that
kind of an approach. Now, that is not -- it doesn't fit that word.

So, I think I think that if one analyzes what is going on in that
country, they would find a different way to characterize it. I know
it's nice to be -- have a bumper sticker, but it's the wrong bumper
sticker.

Q: Well, I know. But appreciating, as I do, your appreciation of
precision in language -- (Inaudible.) --

Rumsfeld:  You've got the dictionary definition?

Q:  -- what the DoD definition of guerrilla war.

Rumsfeld: I was afraid you would have -- I should have looked it up. I
knew I should have looked it up! (Laughter.) I --

Q:  According to the Pentagon's own definition --

Rumsfeld:  I could die that I didn't look it up!

Q: -- military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy- held or
hostile territory by a regular -- (Inaudible.) -- indigenous forces.
This seems to fit a lot of what's going on in Iraq.

Rumsfeld:  It really doesn't.  (Laughter.)

Now, the other part of your question. Quagmire. Quagmire. We have had
several quagmires that weren't thus far, and I don't know -- I didn't
look that word up, either. I should have, knowing you. But why don't I
think it is one? Well, I opened my remarks today about the United
States of America. Were we in a quagmire for eight years? I would
think not. We were in a process. We were in a -- we were evolving from
a monarchy into a democracy. What happened in Eastern Europe? Were
they in a quagmire when the Berlin Wall fell down and they started
struggling and working their way towards democracy? Was Afghanistan in
a quagmire, as they went through that awkward stage of trying to
schedule a Bonn process and then a Loya Jirga, and now they still
don't have a permanent government, nor is it perfectly peaceful there.

If you -- you call it what you want, and then be held accountable for
it. My personal view is that we're in a war. We're in a global war on
terrorism and there are people that don't agree with that -- for the
most part, terrorists. And our goal in each of those countries is to
get the terrorists out of Afghanistan, get the Saddam Hussein regime
out of Iraq and allow the people of those countries to take over their
countries and put their countries on a path towards something
approximating a representative, civil society that's not a threat to
its neighbors.

If you want to call that a quagmire, do it.  I don't.

Q:  General Myers --

Q: (Inaudible) -- what a quagmire suggests that, really is, whether
you have a good exit strategy. The criticism would be that you're in a
situation from which there's no good way to extricate yourself. And --
(Inaudible.) --

Rumsfeld: Then the word "clearly" would not be a good one. You would
wish not to have used it, were you to do so -- (Laughter.) -- which,
of course, someone as wise as you would not.

Q: General Myers, to wrap up this convoy strike twelve days ago: you
said that the strike was initiated because of good intelligence. Is it
accurate to say that, at first it was believed Saddam Hussein and/or
his sons were in that convoy?

Myers: It was good intelligence about potential high-value targets,
but we didn't know who, so, you know, we just knew there was an
attempt to flee Iraq, and so we went after the targets.

Q:  Saddam Hussein and his sons?

Myers:  Like I said, it -- don't know.

Q: Okay. Is it believed that people got away, that you were looking
for, in that convoy?

Myers: To be determined. They're still looking through the compound,
looking through the other wreckage of the vehicles and trying to
determine that. So it's just too early to tell.

Q:  And the last thing --

Rumsfeld: But I would take a wild flying guess that it was night, it
was a very short distance to the Syrian border; it's entirely possible
people got away.

Q:  The two people in custody --

Rumsfeld:  We don't KNOW that --

Q:  -- are they leadership?

Myers: We don't know that because we had very -- we had good coverage
with various systems, but it sure is conceivable.

Q:  General Myers --

Myers:  I'm sorry, is that --

Q: The two people in custody -- are they leadership? The two people
still --

Myers:  Uh, to be determined.

Q: Mr. Secretary, on the possibility of getting an international
peacekeeping force together, could you clarify, please? I mean, do you
have a number in mind? Are you asking specific countries to contribute
troops? Are they responding --

Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, yes. We've asked -- I'm going to guess
we've asked 70 countries. We've been doing this for weeks and weeks
and weeks and weeks. There's no secret to this.

Q:  And out of 70 countries --

Rumsfeld:  We'd like as many as we can get.

Q: And you have half dozen or so who have responded positively, in
terms of committing ground troops?

Myers:  Oh, more than that.

Rumsfeld: No, I think we already have -- I'm going to be wrong by 10,
15, 20 percent, with -- but just to -- and someone here ought to know
the answer, and you can get the correct answer from Larry DiRita
afterwards. So don't walk away with a wrong number. I'm going to guess
there's four countries that already have troops in there. I'm going to
guess that we've got another six that have agreed to do it. And I'm
going to guess we're currently in negotiations and discussions with
another 14. And I would guess there are probably another 15 or 20
beyond that who have indicated some willingness to talk or discuss or
something else.

[Countries currently with troops on the ground in Iraq include the
U.K., Australia and Poland. A total of 24 countries have made firm
commitments to provide forces. We are involved in discussions with 12
other countries regarding their potential support.]

So it is a project that's been going on a long time. The Joint Staff
has been doing it, working it hard. CENTCOM's been working it hard.
The State Department's been working it hard. And people are queuing
up, and it's not a simple thing to do. They've got to figure out what
it is they've got to contribute, what it is we need, how they might
fit in, what kinds of equipment they need, when they might be able to
do it, how long they might be able to stay. It's a very complicated
thing. But the response has been excellent.

(Cross talk.)

Q: Isn't it something, however, that should have been worked out prior
to the start of the conflict?

Rumsfeld: Prior to the time the president decided he had to go to war?
No. It's something that started shortly after the war began. It's been
under way. And we've got a number of troops currently in there, in the
forces that are there, that are what CENTCOM has asked for and
believes are appropriate.

Q: And do you have a number, a target number, for the number of
international peacekeepers you would like to see join the U.S.?

Rumsfeld: Well, we -- the more that are there, the fewer of U.S.
troops we have to have. So it's a -- and we won't know precisely what
CENTCOM's going to want. We just answered that question, at the
moment, whether they like what they have or they want fewer or more.
But whatever it is, we will fill in with as many international forces
as we can, and we will then be able to rotate some of our forces out
and give them a rest.

Myers: As I recall, if you look at the plan that General Franks had
before all this began, in terms of how stability operations might go,
where you phased in international forces, I think, is very consistent
with that plan that was -- notional plan that was put together a long
time ago.

Q: Mr. Secretary, another multinational force question. What's the
administration's latest thinking about Liberia, how to respond to the
secretary-general's request for a multinational force? Is there a
support role, at least, that the United States could play?

And related to that, what's your latest thinking about that evacuation
operation?

Rumsfeld: We've spent time over the weekend -- a good deal of time
over the weekend -- visiting among ourselves about that and thinking
through different aspects of it. The reports out of Liberia tend to
come up and go down in terms of urgency or lack of urgency. It was
relatively calm there, the latest reports. And that's a call the
president would make, if and when he decided to make such a call. And
he has not, nor has the State Department requested an evacuation out
of Monrovia.

Q:  Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld:  Yeah?

Q: At the very beginning, you said here today that the war on
terrorists in Iraq, quoting you, would not be over anytime soon. That
suggest, perhaps, that you've given some thinking to the timeline you
are facing here. Can you shed any light on --

Rumsfeld: We don't have a timeline. I wish I could help people with a
timeline, but it's just not possible. What is taking place is
complicated. It is to go from a vicious, repressive dictatorship to
get them on a path towards a representative system that's something
approximating a civil society that doesn't threaten its neighbors.
Ambassador Bremer -- we talked to him again this morning -- is pushing
as fast and as hard as he can to get Iraqis engaged in aspects of that
process. The sooner that happens, in my view, the greater the
likelihood that the people of Iraq will feel a stake in what's taking
place. How long or how successful the remnants of the Saddam Hussein
regime will be in attacking coalition forces and attacking Iraqi
infrastructure, I don't know. We're going to try to find them. We're
working very hard at it. We've got good people doing it. We're either
going to capture or kill them or run them out of the country.

Q: Yes, but sir, perhaps an awkward question, but I've been wanting to
ask this for several days now. On the screen behind you, during the
war, you used to both show us the names, by name, of the people, the
servicemen who died in Iraq. You haven't shown us that scroll of
names, I believe, since the war ended. And I'm just -- you show us
now, you know, pictures of people in the field doing their work, but
you don't show us the names of the dead anymore. And I'm curious why
you have not done that.

Rumsfeld: Well, we might want to do that. That probably would be a
good idea, yeah.

Q: But can I take you back to Jamie's question of a little bit more
precision? What's the danger if the news media begins to refer to the
situation now in Iraq in shorthand as a guerrilla war or an insurgent
war? Aside from you wanting us to be as precise as possible, is there
a --

Rumsfeld: No. I mean, it's a free world; people can be as wrong as
they want. (Laughter.)

Q: But sir, is there -- it seems to me that calling it an insurgency
or a guerrilla war begins to bring to mind to people the last one that
the United States had, which was Vietnam, which I think most people
can agree was not a resounding success. You go from Vietnam, your
classic quagmire, and --

Rumsfeld: There are so many cartoons where people, oppressed people
are saying, "Is it Vietnam yet?" -- hoping it is and wondering if it
is. And it isn't. It's a different time. It's a different era. It's a
different place. But I was asked a question, would I call it that? I
said what I would call it.

Q:  Which is?

Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm not going to repeat it, Pam. We'll get the
transcript. It was the answer to the first question. If someone wants
to call it something else, fine, do that, and be held accountable for
being wrong, just as I'm held accountable for being wrong, and
goodness knows I am from time to time. I try not to be, but I am.

Q: Mr. Secretary, going back for a second to Liberia, I wondered what
your reaction is. The West African governments are asking for the U.S.
to provide 2,000 troops. I wondered your reaction to providing troops
to Africa, as well as what are your latest thoughts on any possible
troops for any peacekeeping, peace-ensuring effort in the Mideast.

Rumsfeld:  (Laughs.) You've gone from Liberia --

Q:  To the Mideast.

Rumsfeld:  -- to the Mideast.

Q:  Supplying peacekeeping troops.

Rumsfeld: I see. The -- I thought I answered on Liberia. The president
will make a decision on what he thinks. And I would give my advice to
him, as everyone else on the NSC (National Security Council) process
would, and then I would be supportive of whatever he decided. And
we're looking at a range of options. And I believe the organization's
called ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) that has
been opining on this subject. And we, of course, the United States,
has had forces in Nigeria, I believe, maybe somewhere else as well,
Sierra Leone, possibly.

Myers:  (Inaudible word.)

Rumsfeld: And we have trained Nigerian elements and Sierra Leone
elements and, I think, Ghana, some other --

Myers:  That's correct.

Rumsfeld: -- small units of these. They've been well trained. We've
helped equip them. And to the extent they've been deployed, I've been
told that they've handled themselves well. So those are things that
are being sorted out by the Department of State and the White House at
the present time.

Our time is up.

Q:  Come back and see us.

Rumsfeld:  Thank you.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

 

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