Rumsfeld: Good morning.
Cosumano: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. I'm General Cosumano, the Commanding General of SMDC [U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command]. Thank you for joining us this morning, sir.
Rumsfeld: Well, thank you, General. I didn't hear your introduction. I hope it was terrific. [Laughter]
Cosumano: It was great sir, believe me. [Laughter]
Rumsfeld: Well, thank you also for your outstanding leadership of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and also for your service to our country. You've served in times of peace and times of war and especially in the critical area of space and missile defense and that's been most important. And certainly we appreciate that able service.
I understand you have some elected officials there. Mayor Wardy, [Mayor of El Paso, TX] thank you for the hospitality of your city.
General Sullivan I'm told is there. Thank you as well for your, I guess, some three decades of service, as a member of the Joint Chiefs, as Chief of Staff of the Army, and of course now as President of this important organization.
The Association of the United States Army and its members are certainly among the Army's most dedicated champions. Your contributions have helped make the Army the best equipped, the best trained, the most effective fighting force on the face of the Earth -- a fact that they prove every day in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in so many other places around the world.
This weekend I returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. Coalition forces there and from I guess it's now some 34 nations strong are really doing a remarkable job. Needless to say we appreciate your support for the Coalition forces as they put their lives at risk voluntarily fighting terrorists.
This is a critical task they're engaged in as our experience on September 11th so dramatically demonstrated.
We've entered into a new security environment and, given the lethality and the threat of weapons in this 21st Century, it's arguably the most dangerous the world has known.
Are you getting an echo? Or am I the only one getting an echo?
Cosumano: It's coming across well.
Rumsfeld: Well, OK, good. I'd rather you hear me only once instead of the echo as well, but I guess there's not much we can do about it.
During the Cold War the primary threat to our security, of course, was a single super power and with our allies and with leadership over many decades we successfully developed strategies to dissuade and deter the threat.
Today we face a new and different threat and adversaries that I suspect are not easily deterred.
Organized, trained, and equipped to face armies, navies and air forces, instead we face enemies who hide in caves and shadows, and target not our military forces in all cases, but often innocent men, women, and children.
Today more than 20 countries including a number of terrorist states either possess ballistic missiles or have established programs to develop or to acquire them. And a number of terrorist regimes either have or are working to acquire chemical, biological, and in some cases nuclear weapons.
For example, North Korea is the world's most aggressive proliferator of ballistic missiles and related technologies. And the North Koreans have publicly said that they're willing to sell those technologies to the highest bidders. If they do so we could see the number of states with weapons of mass destruction, including terrorist states, double in the next decade or two. And the danger grows that they will share those capabilities with terrorist networks who could attack without fingerprints, and thus may not always be deterred.
To defend the American people against these threats we need to find new ways to stop the growth in trade of weapons of mass destruction related materials, technologies, and delivery capabilities among rogue states. That's why we're working with friends and allies to find new approaches such as the Proliferation Security Initiative. It's obviously a task that can't be done by one country or even a small group of countries. It's something that takes the cooperation of a broad range of nations.
We also need to continue the transformation of our forces and capabilities for the challenges of the 21st Century, including ballistic missile defenses to protect our people, to help protect our friends and allies, and certainly to protect our deployed forces.
General Vane, I'd like to commend the work of the air defense artillery community at Fort Bliss, some of whom I am told are attending this conference today, for their outstanding work in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I'm told that in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Patriot batteries successfully engaged nine short-range ballistic missiles that were heading towards concentrations of Coalition military equipment and personnel. So thanks for a job well done.
When President Bush announced his decision to begin deploying a missile defense system in 2004 for the United States he called missile defense "an essential element” of our new defense strategy. “The new strategic challenges of the 21st Century require us to think differently," he said, "but they also require us to act."
You certainly are the ones who are going to deliver on that pledge.
I thank you for all you're doing. The success of your mission is important to our security and to the security of free people elsewhere. We're grateful that each of you have stepped forward to serve.
So thanks so much. I'd be happy to respond to some questions.
I understand that there is the ability to ask me and I can answer notwithstanding the long distance we have here.
Cosumano: Thank you for those great comments, sir. We do have some questions and sir, what I'll ask those who have questions, they’ll come to this podium and you will be able to see them. They'll introduce themselves. We have some folks from both industry here, sir, as well as uniformed, and so we'll begin right now sir. I think you have to leave about 0930, so thank you very much for your time.
Your first question, sir.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Sergeant Major Lady. Good morning, sir.
Rumsfeld: Good morning.
Q: Would you comment on how you see the funding requirements for the Medium Extended Air Defense System program remaining on track in light of other Defense Department funding priorities?
Rumsfeld: We've been fortunate with the Congress with respect to the funding in these areas. In fact I would say probably more successful in this recent cycle than in the preceding two cycles. We do have lots of priorities. Fortunately the President and the Congress have been able to help us with supplementals to fund some of the unusual priorities that we have given the activities in the global war on terror.
I don't at this moment see any particular pressure on the funding that you have asked about, although as you go through the year you never know. But at the moment my impression is that we will probably be able to get in supplementals the kinds of funds we need to take care of the unusual expenses.
Q: Sir, thank you.
Rumsfeld: I hope I'm right.
Q: Mr. Secretary, good morning. I'm Colonel Dan Kirby. My question addresses Iran and their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
What are your thoughts about the possibility of Iran completing the construction of a nuclear power plant and a by-product of a highly enriched uranium program, particularly as it deals with ongoing concerns with their proliferation of missiles in the region?
Rumsfeld: Well, there clearly is concern in the region about Iran's, not simply their nuclear program but as you point out also their ballistic missile program. They have had a fairly energetic program in both areas. The missile program has been visible, reasonably visible through intelligence. The nuclear programs have obviously, very recently, its been discovered --indeed I believe it's now broadly agreed that they have in fact not been forthcoming about their nuclear programs. Sometimes I understate for emphasis.
The fact that they have been doing that for a good many years suggests that if they have an opportunity they might be willing to do that again for a good many years. I think that just on the face of it, their nuclear program is, it's hard to believe that reasonable people would engage in a nuclear program for energy in a country that has the natural energy capabilities they have and in a country that's probably burning off more gas and wasting it at the present time than they would get out of the Bushehr reactors.
So one has to assume that they are purposeful, that they will, if they have the opportunity, certainly continue with their ballistic missile programs, and I would estimate continue with their nuclear programs, probably being somewhat more clever than they were the last time.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. My name is Lieutenant Colonel DeAntona. My question revolves around North Korean missile development and proliferation.
Sir, how would you characterize the North Korean publicly voiced disagreement about our decision to reposition our military forces on the peninsula as it deals with continued development and proliferation of missile technology?
Rumsfeld: Well, first of all we've not made any announcements about our redeployment of our forces on the Korean peninsula. We've had discussions with the South Korean government about it and we've discussed our thinking, but I don't believe that any particular announcements have been made formally.
It is true that we’ve spent the past year and a half or so, two years, developing force posture concepts for the entire world, and we're now rather well developed and we're starting to talk to countries. And when I was on my recent trip we did in fact talk to both Japan and South Korea about some ideas.
As you suggest, the North Koreans opined that if we were to move forces away from the DMZ that it would be because we were anticipating some aggressive action. That, as I'm sure you know, is nonsense. We're looking at the entire globe and whatever we do to adjust our forces will probably be because of a conviction that the United States is in a 21st Century, not the 20th Century; that we don't need to have static defenses as much as we used to. What we need to have is the flexibility and the agility to move in days rather than months in the event that there is a need to move. And the rhetoric we heard out of North Korea was of the kind that they do every month on one issue or another. So I don't give it much credence.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Colonel Pat Rayermann.
Would you please comment on some of the ongoing efforts currently underway with our allies, particularly regarding our NATO allies, to urge their movement toward overmatching power as a relevant paradigm, particularly in the areas of air and missile defense.
Rumsfeld: It seems to me that what we learned in the last year or two is as you suggest, that speed and agility is as important if not potentially more important than simply mass. And that we need to look at both.
The other thing we learned is that we get leverage if we operate, in the United States, forces in a truly joint manner, rather than simply deconflicting.
And a third thing that we obviously know is that to the extent we do that with some selected key allies we gain even greater leverage and capability.
All of that is good and that suggests to me that two things particularly need to be done. We need to, for U.S. forces, see that we do a better job in training people to warfight in a joint manner, using the Joint Forces Command to help transform our force so that we do that. But also one of the things I've been doing is trying to connect our key allies with the Joint Forces Command so that as we transform our forces and how we function in our doctrine, that in fact we will have our key NATO allies and also countries like South Korea and Japan and Australia and a number of others that I'm not going to mention, moving along a track that's similar to the one we're moving on because the world requires that there be capabilities that deter people from engaging in activities that are harmful to peace and harmful to stability, and to the extent we can do that within our own capabilities in a truly joint manner and with our key selected allies in that manner, the whole world is going to be a safer place.
Q: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. My name is Colonel Pat Forrester and my question has to do with the recent success by the Chinese government to launch a man into space.
What impact do you think this will have on our efforts to militarize space? And also do you feel we will develop into a space race in the 21st Century?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think the PRC has accomplished something that is notable. There are not many countries in the world that have achieved that type of a success.
I think that it's a bit of a jump to suggest that that necessarily means a militarization of space. Space is already used for a variety of different things -- sensors and communications and intelligence gathering as well as for peaceful purposes, or non-military purposes I should say.
I think that the way to think about the People's Republic of China is it's not written how it's going to enter the world. It is big to be sure. It is a significant regional power. It is a country that has some tension going on. Its successful economic reform is dependent upon its peaceful interaction with its neighbors and indeed with the rest of the world.
To be successful economically in the 21st Century it requires that people be relatively free to know what's going on elsewhere in the world. It requires that a country be relatively open to involvement by other countries. And that tends to be somewhat in conflict, not just somewhat, but quite a bit in conflict with a communist system politically, a dictatorial system, a non-democratic political system. So there's a tension there.
And I think what we'll see over the coming period is that the decisionmakers in the People's Republic of China will be grappling with that tension and they're going to have to make a choice every day, every year, every decade, as to the extent they're willing to, in exchange for gaining the economic benefits that will accrue to their people by engaging the world economically, the extent to which they're willing to give up their control over the political system.
Therefore, because I don't think it's written exactly how they're going to enter the world, goodness knows all the countries in the region and in the world are working to try to see that they enter the global community in a peaceful, rational way, without any grinding of gears.
Since that is not written I think linking that space shot to some sort of military space race is something I don't think is necessarily something I'd want to do.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Phil Macklin with Kwajalein Range Services.
We saw the launch of cruise missiles by an adversary targeting our ground troops for the first time in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Do you believe we should be doing more to defend ourselves on the tactical battlefield and in the homeland against such emerging threats?
Rumsfeld: You're talking about short-range missiles?
Rumsfeld: Long-range missiles? Which kind?
Q: As well as cruise missiles.
Rumsfeld: As well as cruise missiles.
Certainly. We have to. We have a wonderful advantage with respect to long-range ballistic missiles because the ABM Treaty's now been set aside and we're able to engage in research and development activities and testing concepts that we previously could not under that treaty.
We also now have the ability to go put some initial capability in the ground and begin exercising it, looking at it, figuring out how we can improve it and modify it. We've made some steps forward with respect to shorter-range ballistic missiles.
Given the availability of cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, and the like, and the ability to make them very accurate with GPS; the ability to increase their range simply by extending them and providing additional fuel capabilities; the fact that they're flexible and can be launched from land, sea, or air; the fact that they can have any type of a warhead -- chemical, biological, conventional, or even nuclear -- makes them a very attractive weapon. They're also not terribly expensive. There are folks marketing cruise missiles around the world at prices that are quite inexpensive relative to a ballistic missile.
And given the fact that you can launch one of these missiles from a ship, for example, and have a target that if you were launching it from your homeland would require an ICBM at a much greater expense, why it argues to me that we do need to invest and figure out -- assure ourselves that we continue to invest in the kinds of defenses against cruise missiles that will stay ahead of the technology.
Nothing ever stays static in life. For every offense there's a defense, and for every defense there's an offense, and it keeps going like that. And they'll go to school on the defenses we develop and obviously we'll go to school on the capabilities that get developed. So it is something that's important for us and we need to do it.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Good morning, sir. I'm Linda Gentle.
My question is, does the move to privatize and civilianize service member positions within DoD.
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry. Your voice is very soft and I can't hear you, and you're speaking a little fast for me.
There is a move to privatize and civilianize service member positions within the DoD. How will that affect the Army?
Rumsfeld: Well, it can't do anything but increase the number of warfighters. We've got a problem today that because of the civilian personnel system and the difficulty of managing it, the fact that managers in some places may have 100 employees and they have to operate with four or five different personnel systems; the fact that we can't hire people very rapidly; the fact that it's almost impossible to let someone go. You don't have the flexibility of deploying them to places that might not be terribly pleasant that you do with the military.
So what happens is, a manager's not stupid. He looks and says he's got tasks to do, he's going to be held accountable for, therefore he's going to go grab somebody who can do it, fast and well, and if they can't we'll replace them. So they round up uniformed personnel, have them do it. They can deploy them, they can do everything. Or they can go to a contractor because they know they can sign the contract, they can end the contract when they don't need that activity.
So my guess is what will happen is with this new personnel system what we will be able to do is to -- the estimate is that there's something like 320,000 men and women in uniform who are currently performing tasks that could also be performed by civilian employees or contractors. They should not necessarily be performed by civilian employees or contractors, but they could be.
Now, if let’s take 20,000 out of them out of 320,000 -- if 20,000 of those spots were the result of what I just described, a manager being rational and grabbing someone who can get the job done for them, and we change the personnel system, then instead of grabbing a uniformed person they're going to grab a civilian employee or they’re going to grab a contractor and that frees up the uniformed personnel to perform a military function.
So right now there are a lot of people who are saying we should be increasing the end strength in the military because of the stress on the force. Well, the easiest way to increase the end strength of the military, in my view, is to simply take some of the military people, a small fraction of the military people who are doing non-military tasks and put them back into the uniformed service where they're actually going to perform military tasks.
So I think it will have a favorable effect on the Army and I think it will improve the warfighting capability of all the services, and it will also make things more rational. People will be using people for the things they do best. A civilian employee is terrific for certain things and a contractor's terrific for certain things, and goodness knows, men and women in uniform can do things nobody else can do.
So I think it will inject a modest amount of rationality into our behavior.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Cosumano: Mr. Secretary, our time has run short, sir. We really thank you number one, for being here with us today. And more importantly for your dedicated service to our nation and to our uniformed services.
All of us here in this command and those of us who support this command wish you and your staff the happiest of holidays and Merry Christmas, sir. Thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. You have a great holiday and my best wishes to everyone there. Thank you.