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Military Transformation Tough, Important and Progressing, Secretary Says

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said bringing change to a department as large as the Pentagon will be tough, but change is important so that the military is not "stuck back in the 20th century."

"We've worked hard at it, we've got a lot of wonderful people working on it," Rumsfeld said during an Aug. 18 National Public Radio interview. "It's a difficult thing to do with a great big institution like this." But he said that if the transformation initiatives under way are "as successful as the department believes they will be, I think there will be some success."

Rumsfeld emphasized that transformation efforts within the Pentagon would not be easy. "Change is hard for people," he said. However, he explained that Pentagon leaders understand the importance in organizing, training and equipping the military for the 21st century.

He also noted that lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, as well as the global war on terrorism, illustrate the importance for changes in the military.

"It's not good enough to be capable of fighting big armies and big navies and big air forces on a slow, ponderous basis," he said. "We have to be able to move quickly and have to be agile and have to have a smaller footprint. And we have to be able to deal with the so-called asymmetrical threats, the kind of threats that we're facing with terrorists and terrorist networks. So I think the people in this department understand it and that they're making good progress on it."

Rumsfeld also discussed nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea. He said that Pentagon officials do not believe that Iran currently possesses nuclear weapons, but there are strong indications that North Korea may have up to three.

"We know they (Iran) have the ability to deliver ballistic missiles and conceivably if they had a nuclear weapon, could deliver it. But at the moment no one that I know of in our intelligence community or elsewhere assesses that they currently have that," he said. "It has been assessed that they're engaged in a process where they may wish to acquire or develop or produce nuclear weapons. But at the moment it's my best information that they don't have them."

However, Rumsfeld said North Korea is a different situation. U.S. intelligence has assessed that North Korea, "very likely" has "one or two or three weapons," and that the country has programs to develop and the materials to produce nuclear weapons, he noted.

"They've announced that they have them (nuclear weapons). That is to say they've informed people," he explained. " Because it's a closed society, it's not possible to have really good visibility into what they're doing precisely. If they're saying what they're saying, one has to assume they have some reason for saying it: either that it's true or that they want others to believe it's true."

Rumsfeld also expressed his concern for the likelihood of North Korea, which has sold ballistic-missile technologies in the past, selling nuclear weapons to other countries.

"If they're publicly saying they would be happy to proliferate those technologies and if we know they proliferated ballistic-missile technologies, then reasonable people have to assume that that's at least a strong possibility."

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