Rumsfeld Confirms He's Staying on as Defense Secretary
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, Dec. 6, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today that President Bush asked him to stay on in his current position and he "enthusiastically" accepted.
"The president asked me if I would be willing to stay on, and I told him I would be delighted to do that," Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him en route to a three-country overseas visit.
He gave no timetable to suggest how long he would continue to serve as secretary, but said the Defense Department has a lot of work that needs to be completed. He cited such programs and initiatives as the National Security Personnel System, rebalancing Guard and Reserve forces with the active force, adjusting the global force posture, and transforming the armed forces into a lighter, more adaptable force.
These things won't happen overnight, he said. "The task of moving an institution as large as the U.S. Department of Defense is a sizable task," Rumsfeld said. "It's the kind of thing that doesn't happen instantaneously. Great bureaucracies don't spin on a dime."
In particular, Rumsfeld said, adjusting the posture of U.S. forces around the globe is "something that needed to be done for decades."
This force-posture update will involve bringing some overseas-based units home to the United States and "shifting our weight in various parts of the globe," he noted. The goal is to focus "more on precision, equipment, speed, agility as opposed to mass and sheer numbers."
The secretary said he feels it's important to contribute what he can to solving these issues DoD faces. "I feel fortunate at this point in my life to feel I can contribute to working on these important problems," he said.
Rumsfeld also said he agreed to stay on as defense secretary because he enjoys working with Bush. "He is a good leader; he is an excellent executive," he said of the commander in chief.
Also, Rumsfeld said, it is "an enormous plus" to be able to work closely with American servicemembers, whom he called "absolutely amazing."
He said he finds them amazing "whether they are out in the field" or "when you go visit them in the hospitals." He added that he particularly admires "the confidence that they have in themselves and in their professionalism, the confidence that they have in the work they're doing and its import historically."
"It's a thrill for me to be able to work with them," he said.