Defense Department Briefing, November 25, 2003
United States Department of Defense
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. This Thanksgiving we have a great deal to be thankful for; thankful for the brave Americans who serve our country in the global war on terror -- and we pray especially for the families of those who have given their lives; those families can know that millions of Americans will have them in their thoughts and prayers; and thankful for the forces from all of our coalition partners, many of whom have been injured or killed, including the brave Iraqis who have died in the service of their country's security forces.
If one thinks back to the casualties of wars past -- some 292,000 were killed in World War II, 34,000 in Korea, 47,000 in Vietnam -- we can give thanks that our forces in this war have not faced casualties of such enormous magnitude.
We're truly fortunate that there are so many wonderful young men and women who are willing to step forward, volunteer to serve, and their accomplishments deserve full recognition. Consider what they've accomplished in just the week ending November 23rd. In that very short period, coalition forces conducted nearly 12,000 patrols and more than 230 targeted raids; they captured some 1,200 enemy forces and killed 40 to 50 enemy fighters, and wounded some 25 to 30. That's a one-week snapshot, but it provides a sense of the determined offensive pressure which the coalition is applying against the enemy.
Another example is that in the last 24 hours alone, the 4th Infantry Division conducted 199 patrols, seven raids, and captured 18. They confiscated an enormous number of weapons, and potential weapons as well -- 17 AK-47 assault rifles, 11 rifles, one pistol, three rocket propelled grenade launchers, 53 grenades, six containers of artillery propellant, 60 120mm and 250 60mm mortar rounds, 50 blasting caps, 10 blocks of C-4 explosive, 10 sticks of TNT, 50 mortar fuses, and some 40 spools of wire that's used to detonate these improvised explosive devices.
At the same time, coalition forces are making considerable progress in helping Iraqis rebuild from some three decades of destruction. Consider:
Plans called for rebuilding Iraq's hospitals and clinics. To date, the coalition has successfully helped in reopening all 240 Iraqi hospitals and 95 percent of Iraq's 1,200 medical clinics.
The plans called for getting electric power production up to prewar levels. On October 6th, production reached 4,518 megawatts, surpassing prewar levels.
The plan called for restoring oil production, and today Iraq is producing about 2.1 million barrels a day for themselves and for the world market.
The plan called for getting the Iraqi justice system up and running. Today, some 400 Iraqi courts are back in operation.
The plan called for establishing a new Iraqi currency, and on October 16th, the new Iraqi dinar began circulating.
The plan called to enable a free press to be established, and today some 170 newspapers are being published.
The plan called for getting Iraq's education system up and running, and today, 5.1 million Iraqi students are back in the classroom, and 51 million new textbooks have been issued; 97,000 Iraqis applied to attend college for the 2003 fall semester.
The coalition now is some 34 countries strong, and they've achieved this not in a peaceful Iraq, but in a situation where many times they've been under fire. It's not been a pacified country, if you will, but in a country where regime dead-enders are still violently trying to stop progress.
The American people can be thankful and proud that there are such superb men and women in uniform who volunteer to serve in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the globe in the global war on terror.
GEN. MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
And good afternoon. I join the secretary in giving my thanks to the men and women who serve in our armed forces, and to their families, for their service and for their sacrifices. In particular, I extend my deepest condolences to those families of those who died and were -- those who were killed and wounded over the past weekend in Iraq and in Afghanistan, to include those aboard the MH-53 helicopter that crashed near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. These men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, something for which all Americans are deeply grateful.
The secretary has said the coalition has increased our attacks against former regime loyalists, the results of which has been to limit their ability to conduct attacks against us. Additionally, in the course of our stepped-up raids, we have increased the number of recovered weapons and the number of detainees apprehended. Over the weekend, for example, a coalition Apache helicopter helped engage the enemy -- an enemy ambush site, detaining five individuals and uncovering some 600 rockets.
In addition, Iraqis in Baqubah turned in eight SA-7 and two SA-16 missiles as part of the coalition buyback program.
Also during this time, former regime loyalists staged multiple IED [improvised explosive device], RPG [rocket propelled grenade] and small arms attacks against our soldiers, resulting in 13 U.S. soldiers wounded.
The overall number of attacks against Americans and coalition forces is actually down, but the number of attacks against Iraqi citizens has risen. Make no mistake; former regime loyalists are intensifying their efforts and increasing the lethality of their attacks. These attacks against the coalition and against Iraqi citizens demonstrate the utter disregard for life these former regime loyalists hold in their efforts to create instability.
It emphasizes the importance, I think, most importantly, of our resolve to follow through with our mission, and we will.
Moving now to Afghanistan, operations continue throughout the country, including the five provincial reconstruction teams. Additionally, Operation Mountain Resolve continues in the northeast region near the Pakistani border area of Asadabad. The purpose of Operation Mountain Resolve is to conduct the interdiction operations, to capture enemy forces and deny sanctuary to them.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie?
Q: Mr. Secretary, General Abizaid said earlier today in Iraq, as General Myers said, that attacks have gone down sharply on U.S. forces in Iraq in the past two weeks, due to intense strikes by American forces. And yet --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Presumably for that reason.
Q: And yet strikes against Iraqis are rising sharply. Could that become a major political problem for the United States in terms of winning hearts and minds in Iraq? The feeling or the perception, perhaps, that while you are training Iraqis to protect Iraqis, they apparently are not doing it, and there's a perception that maybe the Americans can't do it.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know that that's correct. We are training Iraqis to provide security for the Iraqi people, and they are doing it. Something in excess of 90 Iraqi security forces have been killed in the line of duty one way or another. They are providing security, and they're doing it increasingly jointly with coalition forces, which we believe advantages both the Iraqi security forces and our security forces.
You're right in the sense that, on the one hand, by targeting Iraqi forces and Iraqi people, two things can happen. One is there's a risk of intimidation, which undoubtedly is their purpose; and second, there's a risk from their standpoint that the Iraqi people won't like being killed and attacked by the former regime elements that are still trying to take back that country for Saddam Hussein. So I think there's some of each in it, to be balanced on it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, would you bring us up to speed on your desire to shift U.S. forces around out of old Europe, back from the DMZ [demilitarized zone] and South Korea, maybe out of South Korea, moving a carrier out in that part of the world? Where do we stand on all of that?
SEN. RUMSFELD: Well, we stand where the president today, I think shortly, an hour ago or something, issued a statement on the subject that we were -- he kind of announced that we had been working for the past couple of years on our posture around the world and that we now had developed concepts and we were at a stage where we were ready to begin talking to our friends and allies and partners in various parts of the globe about these concepts.
How it will all end up will depend in a major way on our discussions with our allies, friends and partners. And because of the costs involved and because of the importance of the Congress in this role, we will be engaging the Congress on those subjects as well. And very likely, it will take some period of months to complete those consultations and discussions, to come to some conviction about what we actually believe is in the best interest of all of us, our -- the United States as well as our allies and alliances and friends. And then it will take some period of years to actually roll out those decisions as we work with the Congress to determine how to do it and at what pace to do it.
The statement's available, I believe, on the Internet.
GEN. MYERS: Could I just make a comment on this? There are several goals associated with reviewing that footprint, which I think the secretary and the president have gone over, but one of those primary goals is that as we rearrange ourselves in the world, that we do a better job of enhancing U.S. security and the security of our friends and allies.
So it's another time where change is -- change makes people nervous, which is the human condition, and we should all understand that. At the same time, one of our goals is to make sure that however we come out here, however we rearrange, in the end that we are stronger in terms of our security posture and the posture of our friends and allies.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And we're convinced that that's the case. The difficulty we sense in some early discussions we have had is that there are an awful lot of people -- all of us, I suppose, have a tendency to think about the past, and the last century. And so we look at numbers of things -- ships, guns, tanks, planes and the like -- and people, whereas the important thing in the 21st century is to look at capability.
For example, if you had five of something -- ships, for the sake of argument -- and you reduced two, you end up with fewer ships. But if those two ships or three ships left have a capability that's double the two ships taken away, you've increased your capability by a substantial margin. And what we're going to have to do is to just take the time and work through with people, including ourselves and own systems -- in other words, we have a tendency here where combatant commanders will ask for specific things, and that's the old way of doing it. And in the future they very likely are not going to be asking for x numbers of troops or planes or ships or tanks, they're going to be asking for capabilities that they can then use to project power on a specific type of target. And that is something that we ourselves have to get adjusted to.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q: I haven't seen the president's statement, but your description of it sounds almost exactly like the things that you've been saying over the past couple of weeks about the state of play on this footprint question. Have there been some decisions made or actions taken by the president that the statement reflects beyond what you've said in recent days about the process?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I guess -- I think what I've said was roughly what I said, but that I said it was basically internal to the department and that we were in the beginning process of engaging the interagency. And I guess the way to interpret it is that the interagency piece is now over and the Department of State will be stepping out with cables and the like, giving people indications that we will be in intensive discussions with them to talk about these things and to hear their ideas and to engage our friends and allies so that we can figure out between us what makes the most sense.
I should add one other thing. One of the things we're doing fairly systematically, for example, with NATO -- we've just connected them with the Joint Forces Command, the transformation command.
On -- if you step off of the Iraq war and think of the advantage that accrued to our forces because of their jointness and because of the fact that they were able to do what they did in such close coordination and cooperation and interoperability with coalition forces, and then look out into the future, the ability to do that can only happen if other forces evolve roughly the way we are and at a pace roughly like ours. And so to the extent that happens, that is enormous leverage, and the capability of the combined force, just as the capability of the joint force, is more than the sum of the parts.
And we've -- in our discussions in other countries recently, we've talked to them also about connecting with the Joint Forces Command and thinking through not just interoperability -- that is to say, interoperability in the way that would give you the ability to deconflict -- we're actually talking with them about ways that we can train together and exercise together and evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st century together. So we're now at that stage where we're really going out to the other countries in a more organized --
Q: (Inaudible) -- natural movement of changing -- (inaudible) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, no, no. No, no.
Q: All right.
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, no.
Q: (Inaudible) -- reduce the footprint but it's still -- I'm sorry. To follow up on Bob's question, if I may, it's not -- would not just be to reduce or change the basic U.S. footprint, but also to meld the new capability of the U.S. force, as you've just described, with a perhaps new -- my word, now -- enhanced capability of U.S. allies to have more punch, even though there might be fewer U.S. troops?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, forget numbers of things.
Q: Yeah. Yeah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The goal is to end up with capabilities that are as good or better, and addressed not to 20th century threats but to 21st century capabilities and threats
Q: So if the State Department begins sending out these cables and such, as you described, DOD and others would begin trying to help the allies -- help's probably not the best word that you would use, but to encourage the allies of the United States military to begin their own transformation, to improve their capabilities, thus offsetting, in their eyes, the loss -- quote, unquote, "loss" of U.S. troops?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I wouldn't predict loss of U.S. troops or ships or guns or tanks and planes. In some cases they may go up. It's an adjustment to fit the 21st century. And I would point out that the things we've been working with NATO on for two years, as we've been working internally, do exactly that. I mean, the NATO Response Force, for example, which we proposed a year and a half ago, and had its first major exercise, I believe in Turkey -- is that -- ?
GEN. MYERS: That's correct. That's right.
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- last week, is an example of progress in that
direction. The modifications in the command structure of NATO [North
Atlantic Treaty Organization] is something that we proposed a year ago.
It's been accomplished
So we've been doing pieces of this. And my guess is if anyone's expecting there's going to be some big announcement at some point, I doubt it. I think what will happen is these things will be happening incrementally over a period of, probably, four, five, six years.
Q: However, you say four, five, six years -- would you want it to be largely accomplished before the 2005 base closure or in conjunction with it?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think we want to have conviction about what we think
with our allies as we work with the Congress on that. Because clearly,
foreign base structure, ex-U.S. base structure and U.S. base structure,
one would hope
Q: I've got a non-footprint question. This is on tankers. Yesterday, the president signed the $400 billion Defense Authorization that allows you to go forward with this controversial tanker program. Yesterday, also, Boeing announced it was firing two officials for ethical violations in their contact.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I read it.
Q: You read it? And the question is this: What's your view on whether that contract -- signing the contract should be delayed until the Pentagon reviews whether this flawed Boeing process tainted at all the acquisition process that led to the language that became law yesterday?
SEC. RUMSFELD: At a senior staff meeting this morning, I asked our senior folks to ask themselves that question and to look into it.
Q: What's the timeline? Do you want an answer in a day or two, or a week?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I didn't -- I don't know the complexity sufficiently how long it would take them. But certainly, when something of that nature occurs, one has to step back and say, "What is it we ought to be thinking, as responsible managers of this department, about that? And does it have implications in any way for things that we're doing or thinking about doing?" And it would -- but you don't say do that in 24 hours or 24 months, you just -- you say do it in a responsible way.
Q: So you asked them to look -- to take what happened with Boeing yesterday and then this contract that's pending and decide whether it's prudent to go forward at this point?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me rephrase it. What I said, I believe, in the staff meeting to the individuals was this. I said: We have just read that two people have been relieved of their responsibilities by a company that we had engaged in an understanding with, and that it struck me, at least, that responsible people would want to say to themselves, "Well, what might that mean for the department? Did something happen?" I don't know the answers to any of these questions. "Did something occur here that relates to that that we ought to know about?" And I said that I thought they ought to set about looking at it and asking those questions. We're the custodian of the taxpayers' dollars. We have an obligation to see that things are done properly.
And so I'm sure what they'll do is come back, having thought it through. I didn't, you know, spout out well-formed thoughts. I posed a series of four, five or six questions, as is my way because I just don't know the answers to those things. And I'm sure they'll come back to me and say, "We've thought about it and we've talked to the lawyers, and here's what we think our responsibility is and here's what we believe is in the best interest of the department and the taxpayers.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q: I wonder if you can talk a little bit about the issue of bringing back units of the old Iraqi army. Senators Carl Levin and Richard Lugar wrote to the president two weeks ago and they released their letter today, saying, "We ask that you give serious consideration to recalling Iraqi army units at the mid-officer level and below." And then also this week, the secretary-general of the Iraqi Democratic Homeland Party said that Iraqi officials have been in deliberations for the past two months with the coalition forces, and it has been agreed to reestablish and rehabilitate the Iraqi army.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Who said that?
Q: This is the secretary-general of the Democratic Homeland Party in Iraq.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've not seen that.
It is a question that is moving around in the department and in the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] and, I believe, possibly with the Governing Council. And it's complicated. It's not an easy thing. The Iraqi army was, in effect -- it disbanded itself towards the end of the war, in sequences. The closer our troops got, more and more of them disappeared. There were not mass surrenders of large elements of the Iraqi army.
At some point, the Coalition Provisional Authority made a decision to take -- to make a statement that acknowledged the fact that it no longer existed as a entity. There have been people who have been writing, subsequently, that maybe what we ought to do is go back and look at the people who were in the Iraqi army and see if it's possible to reconstitute some elements of it.
The reality is that a lot of them are being hired back in -- a lot -- I shouldn't say "a lot." A number. I don't know the number, but some non-trivial number have been being hired back in the Iraqi -- new Iraqi army, in the police forces, in the border patrols, in the civil defense groups, in the site protection groups.
But that isn't the issue. The issue is, is it possible to actually go
reach back in and see if units below some officer level
I don't know whether it's feasible. I've seen articles arguing it, and I know they're discussing it at the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Q: Any sense we'll get a firm proposal for this? It might be a number of weeks?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have a sense. I know they're -- it's a discussion that's taking place in this building. You've been involved in it.
GEN. MYERS: A little bit. A little bit.
Q: Is it something weeks, months away, or is there any ballpark --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I just don't know.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q: You mentioned that overall the attacks on coalition forces have been going down in recent weeks, even though they're going up against Iraqis. Some analysts and intelligence experts will point out, though, that some of the attacks -- well, there appears to be an increase in attacks outside the so-called Sunni Triangle or the Ba'athist Triangle, as others call it, in Mosul this week. You saw another one in Nasiriyah.
Can you both comment on that, whether you've seen more activity on the part of the insurgents outside of what has been considered the sort of heartland of the Ba'athists? And what does that mean?
GEN. MYERS: Well, we have seen an increase, as you point out, but it's been very, very modest. The majority of the attacks still happen where they've always happened, and that is in the triangle between Baghdad and out to Ar Ramadi, and then up to Tikrit and so forth. Mosul was a city of mixed ethnic groups, and while there has been great progress made there, you know, it's not to say one of those groups wouldn't take the opportunity to do the coalition harm.
So, we're still looking at what this means in terms of the strategy of the former regime elements that we're up against. As General Abizaid said, I think this morning, that remains enemy number one -- former regime elements that hope somehow that the Ba'athist party can rejuvenate itself and come back. And that's simply not going to happen. And how they're tied regionally within Iraq and how they're tied nationwide is to be determined. We don't have as much insight there as we need, and we're working on that insight.
SEC. RUMSFELD: There's never been a time when the non-triangle portions of the country have been free of incidents; there have been incidents all along. A terrorist can attack anywhere they want anytime they want, and it's not possible to defend at every location.
Q: Sir, a question concerning a Canadian citizen, Abdul Rahman Khadr, a prisoner who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay. I was wondering if you can tell us why he was released, whether you had any information on that, and why he was sent to Afghanistan and not back to Canada?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm sorry, I can't. If you pose it to the Public Affairs people, they'll take it and try to get back to you. I just happen not to know.
Q: Is the U.S. still unequivocally convinced that Iraq should be a single unity, still opposed to any dividing of the country?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Certainly that has been the position of the United States government and, to my knowledge, the coalition; that the region would be advantaged if it were a single country. And that has been the path we've been on. I've seen articles, obviously as others have. But our position has been that it should be a single country.
Q: Mr. Secretary, have you seen or heard about this tape that was given to a French journalist in Iraq, that purportedly shows the shooting of the DHL plane last weekend, although you don't actually see that, but you see people, about 10 men with shoulder-fired missiles.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not knowledgeable about that.
Q: You're not aware of that at all?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. I said I'm not knowledgeable about
it. Someone mentioned that it existed, but
Q: Can you talk at all about what that says about the organization?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't, except it doesn't take a genius to fire off a -- shoulder-fire a missile at an airplane.
Q: But the idea that they want to get a tape out there. What does that tell you?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, that point. I mean, they do that type of thing. People do that, take credit. I mean, we constantly have people after an incident call up and say, "We did it! Look at us; aren't we wonderful? We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children."
Q: You've had that happen so much in Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Pause.) Saddam Hussein used to give $25,000 for anyone who suicide bombed, and said, "That's a wonderful thing you've just done."
Q: But since then?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm trying to think of people calling up. They've called Al-Jazeera to come and watch them do it, and Al- Arabiyah. "Come and see us. Watch us when we -- here's what we're going to do." They must be -- it's part -- I mean, the information operations or the cy-war part of what they're doing has always been a part of their behavior pattern, partly by the targets they pick, partly by trying to call -- have notice called to what they're doing and take pride in that.
Q: General Myers, just before you start, could I add to that, then. That you talked about all these people that you've captured, 1,200 in a week, I think you said. How many, generally, do you keep and how many can be tied directly to attacks, beyond possessing weapons themselves?
GEN. MYERS: We probably wind up keeping a small percentage. And we can get you the exact numbers. We go through the vetting process to find who's involved and who's not involved when we round up a lot of detainees. I would say over time the number of detainees and the number we keep will probably go up because our intelligence gets a lot better. And recently, in the last couple of weeks, I think we've had some success at targeting exactly the kind of people we want to target, so my guess is the percentage has probably gone up. But that is a very important -- that process, the detainees, the interrogation, and as that feeds back into the folks out doing operations, is very, very important and has yielded very good results. We're happy with that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Why don't we take three more questions?
Q: Yes, sir. A National Guard question, if I could. I've been talking to a number of members of Congress in both parties who say they've been getting a rising number of complaints from constituents, both families and guardsmen, actually, in Iraq, that they don't have equal equipment and they don't have adequate equipment. And some of the strongest complaints come from members of the Armed Services Committees of both chambers who have actually been over there, and say things like "unthinkable," and "absolutely stupefied" at what they've seen.
I'm just wondering if you have any information about that?
GEN. MYERS: I've heard the allegations that the Reserve component forces go over there and they have different equipment or are unprepared somehow for the mission. And every time we run those down, we don't find those to be accurate, to tell you the truth. So -- and I'm very concerned about that because we send our sons and daughters to the battlefield, we want to have them the best of whatever they have.
So, that's one of the problems we have in this whole system in terms of getting the Reserve component ready to go, are the long mobilization times to do exactly what people are saying we're not doing, and that is to get them properly equipped, properly trained, properly organized so they can go and do their mission.
And I've run several of those down, and I just haven't found it to be true. Now, they're like everybody else in theater now, until next month we're not going to have all the plates for the vests that are going to protect them against the higher caliber bullets, and so forth. I mean, that's -- but that's true across the force. There was talk about the helicopters and missile warning. It turns out that the Reserve helicopters and the active helicopters essentially have the same systems, for the most part.
So, I mean, we keep -- you know, that's a huge issue, and those folks that are bringing it up, I'm glad they're doing it, and when they call me directly, I like it even better because then I can go track it down.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You might want to pose it --
Q: Well the -- (inaudible) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a minute, please. Just a minute, please. Just a minute, please.
You might want to pose it also to the Army. I've been with General Schoomaker when he has -- and Les Brownlee. They have been trying to track down each of those issues. When someone raises something, they've tried to then pull the string and track back against it.
And there's no question but that when you're moving 125,000 people, that there are going to be some places at some time where some things are not there. That's just inevitable. It is -- anything that's systemic, however, I believe -- I have confidence that Pete Schoomaker is -- and Les Brownlee are working very hard on it.
GEN. MYERS: Yeah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And I think they could probably give you a good deal more granularity on it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you a question about the offensive? One of the -- either one of you, or both --
Q: Whose offensive?
Q: The U.S. offensive in Iraq. One of the tactics that's been used is to destroy buildings or houses that were associated with insurgent activity. And I was wondering if that's a tactic that was adopted by the commanders in the field on their own or if that's a tactic that you gentlemen approved in advance. And doesn't it risk alienating and scaring ordinary Iraqis and accomplishing less than might meet the eye?
GEN. MYERS: I can -- I think I can assure you that the tactics and techniques and procedures you see in the field are those of the field commanders, General Abizaid and his commanders. That's not the kind of work that we indulge here in the Pentagon.
And I can also, I think, at least state my opinion, and that is that there is -- there's nobody that's more sensitive to that balance between taking this fight to this enemy, which, by the way, is an enemy that respects force. So you got to take the fight to him. You got to be tough. And so that's what -- you've seen that in -- hopefully from the time we entered Iraq, but you're seeing it in the last couple of weeks for sure --
Q: There have been Iraqis quoted in stories from Iraq that are saying this is an Israeli tactic --
GEN. MYERS: Well, I don't know about that. I know that when we have buildings that are producing bombs, the improvised explosive devices, that one of the options is take that building down, and they've been doing that. That's done at the tactical level, as it should be. They're very cognizant of the balance between creating more enemies and taking the fight to the enemy, and they're the ones that we leave with that judgment.
SEC. RUMSFELD: We're going to take one more question --
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- in just a minute. You've got it. But I've been told that I misspoke. I'm advised by Larry that we are not formally considering the possibility of using units of the Iraqi army. I have seen it written about, whoever asked that question. I've forgotten. And I have seen people talk about it and discuss it, and I assumed it was something that was actually being looked at. But apparently it is not being looked at in any formal way at the present time.
Q: Former way?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Any "formal" way, with an "l," at the present time. It is --
Q: (Off mike) -- you respond to Senators Levin and Lugar, who raised this issue and said it should be considered?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think it's a fair question and it's something that one ought to either have a good reason why it ought not to be done -- it may not be possible to do it. And there may be people who know an awful lot more about it than I do. But it may not be possible to reconstitute those units. And of course, when you're talking about units, there's elements in a unit. There's the lower-level people, there's the mid-level, non-com types, and then there's the officer group in what constitutes a unit. So I just -- I'm told that it is not something that is actively under a formal consideration in the department. And I misinformed you and I apologize.
And we'll take the last question back there.
Q: Sir, it's a big time right now for the Pentagon because you're constructing the '05 budget, you're constructing strategic guidance for '06, and you're trying to put a mark on transformation, as well as preparing for an election year. Can you kind of give us some comments on all these swirling issues and where you stand on all of them? What's your mark going to be on the '05 budget?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, we're not trying to prepare for an election year, if you're talking about the United States. Just let there be no doubt about that. This department is not engaged in that process.
We had a surprisingly good meeting on the budget -- yesterday?
GEN. MYERS: Yes, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: As you may recall, we've decided to stick with last year's budget and just do it by exception. It has saved an enormous amount of effort and paperwork and tugging and hauling. And without any contribution from me, the PA&E [Program Analysis and Evaluation] and the Joint Staff and the Comptroller's Office and the deputy and others have been working through these things and they have aggregated the issues in a way where there's broad agreement on some very big and important ones, there are some differences on some others, and then there's a third basket where there are some major differences.
It is -- I got the briefing on it yesterday for the first time, and I must say I am really impressed that the people in this department are focused -- first of all, they all talk the same language now, having been here a number of years. They are focused on big, important issues. And it is not this service versus that service, and it's not this technique versus that technique; it is a very constructive, thoughtful and, I must say, impressive discussion that's taking place.
Q: But let me clarify --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have asked to be briefed on two or several pieces of it that I felt I needed much more information on. And the process is going forward, and I am very pleased with it.
So, the budget process, traditionally it tended to come up from the services, and at the end, it turned into a train wreck. And we had to take all of those pieces and try to pull it together and say how can you make sense out of it. And it would happen over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Well, that's not a way to do business. And that is not going to happen this year if yesterday was an indication, because I am just so pleased with the process.
Q: Let me clarify --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Transformation, you said, kind of, you're trying to
make a mark on transformation, or something
I'm not going to recite all the things that have taken place, but I can just tell you that the Army is in the process of doing some really significant, very serious looks at how it does its business and how it ought to be arranged for the future. For example, the Navy has done a great deal of that already. And the department has done a great deal.
So, you say how do we do all of that at once, kind of; is that what the question is though, it can't be done, you can't walk and chew gum at the same time?
Q: No, there's no quotation to that effect. But I just want to clarify the beginning of the answer that you gave me was, you know, this department is not preparing for an election. Obviously not. The department answers to the administration. But it seems like there is a little bit of extra tension from people that are talking about the budget, you know, this is THE last chance -- heaven forbid, the administration leaves -- (laughter) -- that you have to make a mark on transformation. And I'm just curious, do you take that into account?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The implication there is that dollars equal transformation, and that's just not true.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's just -- it's just -- it doesn't compute.
Q: Can you clarify what you were saying, you had asked for some follow-up briefings on a few specific things?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I could, but I won't. (Laughter.)
Q: Sir, a final one -- sir, a final one --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm afraid that's the final question. And I want to wish everyone --
Q: Can we just clarify --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
Q: And to you. Same to you.
Q: Could we get a clarification on a pretty serious implication that you slipped into one of our answers earlier? It was in response to Martha's question about the missiles. And you said that Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah are often there to videotape these terrorists conducting these attacks.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know if I said "often," but certainly they are there from time to time.
Q: Do you believe that in any way, either one of these news organizations is cooperating with these terrorists? And do you agree with the Governing Council's decision to shut down Al-Arabiyah inside Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, if you don't have evidence, you ought not to be making charges. I opined, accurately, that from time to time, each of those stations have found themselves in very close proximity to things that were happening against coalition forces.
GEN. MYERS: Before the event happened.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Before the event happened, and during the event. Now, there are only so many events in the country, and there's a relatively finite number of their people. So it's -- how it happens is for time to tell, but it happens.
And then, the second part of the question is, do I agree with the Governing Council. I did not have a chance to read what their decision was, and whether I might have agreed with it as being exactly right or too strong or not strong enough, could only come if I knew precisely what they said and what the implications of it were. I don't know how long it lasts or what the stipulations were or what the triggering event was, and until I had that, I don't know that I could agree or disagree with them.
Q: Have you seen anything, though, that amounts to more than just circumstantial evidence that either one -- haven't U.S. troops, in fact, gathered up some pretty compelling evidence that either both or one of these organizations may be cooperating with these terrorists?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Pauses.) The answer is yes, I have seen scraps of information over a sustained period of time that need to be looked at in a responsible, orderly way. And I'm not --
Q: Do you think these -- (inaudible) -- coalition forces?
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and I'm not in a position to make a final judgment on it, as I've indicated earlier.
And I didn't just slip that in there, I stuck it in there! (Laughter.)
Have a good holiday!
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