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Rumsfeld, Keane Discuss Army Transformation, Troop Rotations

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan., July 23, 2003 – The defense department's top civilian declared here July 22 that he's not at war with the U.S. Army.

"I've always liked the Army," U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, accompanied by acting Army Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane, asserted during a wide-ranging interview with Army Times and American Forces Press Service reporters.

The secretary and Keane, who traveled to Fort Leavenworth to address a group of new Army brigadier generals attending a one-week orientation class, also discussed military transformation, troop rotation plans for Iraq, the fate of Saddam Hussein's sons, and other issues.

Pointing to myriad media reports that he had severe conflicts with top Army leadership on military transformation, the Iraq war and other issues, Rumsfeld declared: "The things that get printed about that (alleged feud) tend to be false.

"I've read repeatedly dozens of times that I announced (former Army Chief of Staff) General (Eric) Shinseki's replacement a year-and-a-half in advance," the secretary noted, adding, "That's just false. It's been repeated 50 times. I can't imagine why responsible journalists do it."

Rumsfeld said he doesn't worry about such inaccurate, irresponsible media reports, because "there's nothing I can do about it."

Regarding his overall duties as defense secretary, Rumsfeld stated: "I'm doing my job." And, the Army, the secretary declared, "is well along that (transformation) path."

Keane, noting he's worked with Rumsfeld for more than two years, jumped into the discussion, declaring: "Unequivocally, the secretary does not have an issue with the Army."

Rumsfeld, Keane pointed out, has often said both inside the Pentagon and outside that the U.S. Army is the best in the world.

And, Keane continued, Rumsfeld wants the United States to have the best Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as a superlative Army.

Rumsfeld is bullish on Army transformation, as well as transformation across the other armed services, "because he wants us to be ready for the future," Keane emphasized.

There is simply "no issue there" between Rumsfeld and the Army, Keane noted. "I think we work effectively as a team."

Regarding the Iraq war, Rumsfeld was asked if he was surprised by the campaign's quickness, where Saddam Hussein's forces were defeated and the dictator's government was toppled in three weeks after the March 19 onset of hostilities.

The substitution of speed for mass not using larger numbers of troops -- in planning for the Iraq campaign likely prevented Hussein from burning the Iraqi people's oil fields, flooding parts of the country, firing Scud missiles at neighboring countries, "or any number of things," Rumsfeld maintained.

The secretary noted, "it was a conscious decision" by former U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Tommy Franks to use speed versus mass in Iraq.

"And it worked it worked very well," Rumsfeld emphasized.

Franks' war plan for the Iraq campaign was "bold and brilliant," Keane pointed out. Also, the U.S. and coalition knew their enemy, he added, noting they'd fought Hussein 12 years previously during the Gulf War.

Yet, Keane continued, the defeat of Saddam Hussein and his regime involved more than innovative planning. Leadership, troops' skills, and the will to win were also important factors for victory over Hussein, he asserted.

"You won't find that written in the plan anyplace," the four-star declared, "but, it's resident" in the decisions that were made on how military force would be applied in Iraq.

"It's an important ingredient that helped produce this outcome," Keane said.

Although major combat operations ended in Iraq on May 1, U.S. and coalition troops are still in Iraq looking for Hussein loyalists and helping with reconstruction efforts. Plans have been made, Keane noted, to send those troops home and replace them with fresh ones.

"We've decided to go to a 12-month tour for the forces that are currently in Iraq and for those that would come into Iraq" with some exceptions, Keane explained, noting that remaining 3rd Infantry Division soldiers now in Iraq would come home in September.

The U.S. Marines now serving in Iraq, the general continued, would also likely come home around that September timeframe.

And, Keane noted, the Army will send a Stryker brigade to Iraq, as well as some reserve units.

There are plans to augment troop strength in Iraq "by adding coalition forces," Rumsfeld pointed out, noting that 19 nations already have troops serving in Iraq.

Iraqi participation in security and peacekeeping operations will also be boosted over the coming months, the secretary noted.

Regarding the fate of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, Rumsfeld acknowledged that both were killed July 22 during a U.S. raid in Mosul, Iraq.

"The world is well rid of them," Rumsfeld said.

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