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Rumsfeld Forecasts DoD's Path Ahead

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters he would work toward fielding a national missile defense system and to ensure the services continue to attract and retain the best people.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addresses reporters at the Pentagon Jan. 26, 2000, shortly after attending a swearing-in ceremony at the White House. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn
  

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Rumsfeld, in his first Pentagon press conference since taking office, also said he would work to improve intelligence gathering.

The challenge the United States faces is not as obvious as during the Cold War but its just as noble, Rumsfeld said. The national security mission of the Bush Administration, he said, is to turn these years of influence into years of peace.

Rumsfeld said he would work to ensure the United States has the worlds strongest and most capable military institution. A strong military does not guarantee peace and stability in the world, he said. But we know the opposite is true -- that weakness is provocative.

Weakness invites and entices people to do things they would otherwise avoid, he said. "Our task is to fashion deterrence to fit this new national security environment.

It is important that service members feel they are treated properly, he said, that theyre valued, that theyre appreciated, that theyre supported. The military must attract and retain the kinds of people we need to make sure the armed forces of the United States can do the assignments they face.

One focus of the Bush Administration is to build a National Missile Defense. Rumsfeld said when the ABM Treaty was signed in 1972 technologies and the circumstances in the world were notably different.

The Soviet Union -- our partner in that treaty -- doesnt exist anymore, he said. Were in a very different world. The principal threats facing the United States is not the fear of a strategic nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

Given the vastly different times and threats facing the United States, the country must fashion offensive and defensive capabilities, he said. The president has not been ambiguous about this, Rumsfeld said. He says he intends to deploy a missile defense capability for our country. He has concluded it is not in the countrys best interest to perpetuate vulnerability.

The secretary said the Russians have to know that the kind of missile defense capabilities the United States proposes do not threaten them in any way. They also have to know if they look around the globe that there are other threats, he said. There are nations with increasingly capable weapons, that because of the proliferation of technologies are posing threats not just to the United States but to countries in Europe and ultimately Russia.

Rumsfeld said he wants to work with the CIA to improve intelligence capabilities and he had met with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. The United States must fashion [intelligence capabilities] to fit the demands facing us in the world, he said. DoD will work closely with members of the intelligence community to see that President Bush has the best possible information, he added.

Rumsfeld said he is working budget issues and whether there is a supplemental to the fiscal 2001 defense budget is an open question. Any decision in respect to the Base Realignment and Closure process lies ahead of him, he said.

Im realistic [about BRAC], he said. I look at force structure and believe that base structure ought to reasonably fit it. And to the extent that it doesnt, one obviously has to be respectful of taxpayers dollars and find ways to do the best possible jobs we can.

Rumsfeld is the first defense secretary to serve twice. He was secretary from 1975 to 1977. I remember my time here well and with a great deal of pleasure, he said. Its a wonderful institution. The men and women in uniform are so special and important to our country. Certainly the dedicated civilians here in the department and across the globe do a superb job for our nation."

He said when he agreed to be secretary again, I thought of President Theodore Roosevelts observation that the best prize life offers is to work hard at work worth doing. This work is certainly worth doing.

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Related Sites:
Media Availability with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Jan. 26, 2001

Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld listens to a reporter's question at his first press conference since taking office as the nations 21st defense secretary. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageReporters raise their hands to question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during his first press conference since taking office as the nation's 21st defense secretary. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn   
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