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DoD News Briefing with Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace from the Pentagon

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chariman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace
April 11, 2006
DoD News Briefing with Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace from the Pentagon

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good afternoon, folks. 

 

            Reports from the military services, including the Army, are that the active duty recruiting numbers have exceeded targets for the last six months.  Of course, numbers tend to fluctuate from time to time. Still, it is encouraging that so many outstanding young people are continuing to raise their hands and volunteer for service to our country. 

 

            The men and women in the United States military protecting our country are serving superbly in many areas of the world in addition to Iraq.  Over the past few years, military units have trained personnel in Africa to help countries deny terrorists safe havens there and to confront threats before they become a crisis.  In the Horn of Africa, U.S. forces are deterring potential terrorist recruits by working with local villagers.  As one Marine said, it's hard to recruit terrorists when the kids are saying that those are the same people who helped build our schools and played with us. 

 

            In Afghanistan, U.S. forces are working with Afghans and NATO forces to help that country.  Millions of Afghans have defied threats of violence to participate in parliamentary elections and the first presidential election they have had in 5,000 years.  And one sign of progress is that the Afghans are voting with their feet.  I'm told that some 3.6 million refugees from around the world have now returned to Afghanistan, the largest refugee repatriation operation that I'm aware of. 

 

            The American people can certainly be proud of the men and women in uniform and what they're accomplishing.  They're working mightily to keep the American people safe. 

 

            Finally, there have been some questions raised about Iran and speculation about U.S. policy.  Let me be clear.  The department's policy is the president's policy.  President Bush and America's allies are on a diplomatic track.  The president addressed this matter yesterday very forcefully, and I would have nothing to add. 

 

            General Pace. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Sir, thank you. 

 

            In the last couple of days there have been several articles, opinion pieces, editorials about the responsibility of senior U.S. military officers to speak up, to tell the truth as we know it, and that is a sacred obligation of all of us who are fortunate to represent all the members of the armed forces and to have the opportunity to participate at this level. 

 

            Let me just give you Pete Pace's rendition of how the process worked building up to Iraq.  First of all, once it became apparent that we may have to take military action, the Secretary of Defense asked Tom Franks, who was the commander of Central Command, to begin doing some planning, which he did.  Over the next two years, 50 or 60 times, Tom Franks either came to Washington or by video teleconference, sat down with the Secretary of Defense, sat down with the Joint Chiefs and went over what he was thinking, how he was planning.  And as a result of those iterative opportunities and all the questions that were asked, not once was Tom told, "No, don't do that.  No, don't do this.  No, you can't have this.  No, you can't have that."  What happened was, in a very open roundtable discussion, questions about what might go right, what might go wrong, what would you need, how would you handle it, and that happened with the Joint Chiefs and it happened with the Secretary. 

 

            And before the final orders were given, the Joint Chiefs met in private with General Franks and assured ourselves that the plan was a solid plan and that the resources that he needed were going to be allocated.  We then went and told the Secretary of Defense our belief in Tom's plan and in the resources, and I know for a fact, because I was there, that when the Joint Chiefs were called over to the White House, several of the questions that the president asked specifically  were about our understanding and belief in the plan, and whether or not the amount -- proper amount of resources had been allocated.  He did that both with us, just the Joint Chiefs, and then again when all the combatant commanders were in from around the globe well before a final decision was made. 

 

            We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds, and if we do not, shame on us because the opportunity is there. 

 

            It is elicited from us.  You know, we're expected to.  And the plan that was executed was developed by military officers, presented by military officers, questioned by civilians as they should, revamped by military officers, and blessed by the senior military leadership. 

 

            Then, when we go to Congress, part of our confirmation process is, "Will you, General Pace, if confirmed, give your personal opinion when asked?"  And the answer to that question is, "Yes, I will, sir." And I have been for almost five years now asked my personal opinion multiple times by members of the Congress of the United States in testimony, and I have spoken my personal opinion. 

 

            Now, I've given my best military advice to the Secretary and to the president, as have the other officers who have the privilege of being Joint Chiefs or being combatant commanders.  Our troops deserve and will continue to get our best military thinking. 

 

            I wanted to tell you how I believe this system works, and I wanted to tell you how I have observed it working for five years, because the articles that are out there about folks not speaking up are just flat wrong. 

 

            Thank you. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, even mindful of your remarks in your opening statement, I have to try.  What planning, if any -- (laughter) -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You can try and fail. 

 

            Q      That may be.  What planning, if any has the Pentagon been undertaking for the possibility of military action involving Iran?  And has the nuclear strike option been ruled out? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You know, someone comes up with an idea, runs it in a magazine or a paper; other papers pick it up and reprint it; editorialists then say, oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling, and isn't -- opine on this and opine on that.  And to the extent anyone starts responding to the kinds of things that have been circulated, it's endless. 

 

            And I think the president handled it properly.  The United States of America is on a diplomatic track.  That is the president's  decision.  That's where our European allies are.  There is obviously concern about Iran.  It's a country that is -- supports terrorists. It's a country that has indicated an interest in having weapons of mass destruction.  So obviously the president has indicated his concern about the country, but it is just simply not useful to get into fantasy land. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary -- 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, that being said, just a few moments ago -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You're not going to try and fail also? (Laughter.) 

 

            Q      I'm going to try.  I'm going to try. 

 

            Iranian leaders just a few moments ago said that -- confirmed that Iran has successfully enriched uranium using 164-some-odd centrifuges.  Can we get your reaction to that announcement from Iran? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'd rather wait and see what our experts say about it.  I have not seen the statement. 

 

            I have not had a chance to analyze anything that they've said, nor have I had a chance to talk to the people who have the responsibility in the United States government for making judgments and assessments with respect to things like that. 

 

            Q      You mentioned you're not going to talk about planning or possible planning looking down the road if the military option is needed.  But do those stories somehow affect, in your mind, the way the diplomacy moves forward?  Even though these stories are out there, does that affect the way the diplomacy toward moves Iran moves forward? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I suppose it depends in part on the credence that various people give fantasies.  But --  

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, going back to what General Pace said for a moment -- and if you'll allow me to expand, and maybe General Pace would like to jump in -- regarding the plan itself -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Instead of just asking the question, he always has the tendency to tell us who should answer and then who might jump in and -- it's fascinating.  (Laughter.)  This is intriguing. 

 

            Q      Let me go back to the Ivan Scott classic two-part question -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.) 

 

            Q      One part is, was the plan -- the criticism, of course -- was the plan perhaps valid or the criticism valid in that the amount of forces attributed to the invasion or attack were too light? 

 

            And two, did the plan cover what now seems to be an almost blindside of the level of the terrorist or insurgent violence? 

 

            And the other part -- and maybe you too can answer this, Mr. Secretary -- pardon me, sir -- there have been four generals in -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Kinds of help -- we get all kinds of help up here. 

 

            Q      -- there's four generals in one month who have called for your head, so to speak.  Now that you are the -- or have become the catalyst of criticism of the war, do you think perhaps you are hurting the cause by staying on? 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Should I start? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Sure.  Why don't you start with the second part? (Laughter.) 

 

            GEN. PACE:  The logic for the size of the force that went in was very solid.  And among other things, it included the belief that Saddam probably believed that we would take six months to build up our forces again, array 500,000 troops on the other side of the border, bomb him for 45 days and then come in. 

 

            What turned out was the reverse.  We went in with a lighter force of about 150,000.  We did not precede it with a long bombing campaign. We got to Baghdad much faster than anybody thought we ever would, and as a result of that, Pete Pace believes that we had much less destruction and much less loss of life to get that job done. 

 

            So from that standpoint, I was very comfortable with the prewar planning.  I am comfortable with the way it was executed, and I would go back, given the same facts and figures, and reach the same conclusion, as did all the Joint Chiefs in agreement with Tom Franks' plan. 

 

            As far as Pete Pace is concerned, this country is exceptionally well-served by the man standing on my left. 

 

            Nobody, nobody works harder than he does to take care of the PFCs and lance corporals and lieutenants and the captains.  He does his homework.  He works weekends, he works nights.  People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, could I pursue this just one more step?  I wonder, how do you -- what do you think -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Don't you want to tell us which one should answer? 

 

            Q      No, sir, that will be up to you. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Okay. 

 

            Q      That's a shame.  (Inaudible) -- much easier if he would. 

 

            Q      To what do you attribute the fact that these retired generals are now coming out with this criticism of you?  And does it affect your ability to do your job?  Is there any danger that you will lose public confidence because of it? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't know how many generals there have been in the last five years that have served in the United States armed services.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.  And there are several who have opinions.  And there's nothing wrong with people having opinions.  And I think one ought to expect that.  When you're involved in something that's controversial, as certainly this war is, one ought to expect that.  It's historic, it's always been the case, and I see nothing really very new or surprising about it. 

 

            Q      Does it affect your ability to do your job? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No. 

 

            Q      General Pace? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, you made it clear that the amount of troops in Iraq is a condition-based thing and drawdown will not occur until  the commanders in the field say they're ready.  You've also made a connection between the number of Iraqi security forces trained and ready to go.  Since October, there's been a roughly 30 percent increase in ISF members, and I'm wondering if you think that it's getting to a point where you really can make some decisions about drawdown. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  When we have an announcement, we'll let you know. 

 

            Q      Let me know first?  (Laughter.) 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Not first. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  (Laughs.) 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  But we're fair and we'll let everyone know at the same time. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The answer is, it remains the same; that the military commanders are making assessments as to what's taking place on the ground.  They continue to pass off responsibility to the Iraqi security forces.  They've passed over some 30 bases.  They're passing over various responsibilities for real estate and cities and the like. And as that goes forward, they'll make recommendations to me and I'll make recommendations to the president with the advice and counsel of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chairman.  And at some point the president will make a judgment, make some announcements, and life will go on. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, two questions, please.  As far as your resignation and all that is concerned, knowing you personally for the last 25 years, and as far as fighting this terrorism is concerned, you're doing a fine job. 

 

            My question here is -- coming back from India after the presidential visit -- I was part of the president's visit to India, and they had a wonderful visit there as far as between U.S. and India civil nuclear agreement.  What are your views -- because Secretary Rice was on the Hill in the recent days, and so is Dr. Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India, in the Parliament in India.  And she has been putting the case that this is a good deal. What are your personal views as far as this deal is concerned in the Congress? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, this is something, of course, that was coordinated throughout the executive branch of the government -- the Department of Energy and elsewhere -- and the president's position is a U.S. administration position and we certainly support it. 

 

            I certainly support it here in the Department of Defense.  And the relationship with India is an important one, and it is something that we have worked to develop over the past five-plus years very extensively, and our military-to-military relationship is excellent with them. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, as far as our troops are concerned, U.S. troops are abroad, like in Afghanistan and -- in Afghanistan since I was there.  They are also doing a wonderful job.  But at the same time, as far as Pakistan is concerned, those troops are not allowed to reach Osama bin Laden and other major terrorists.  So where do we stand now as far as Osama bin Laden is concerned, and U.S. troops are not allowed to enter that area? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The arrangements with Pakistan are that we will assist them to the extent they wish in improving their capabilities, and they have been aggressive in attempting to root out terrorists in -- Taliban and al Qaeda -- in their country.  They have the northern federally administered tribal areas, which have an unusual constitutional arrangement with respect to the government of Pakistan. But they, every month, have increased their efforts, and they've taken a lot of losses, as a matter of fact, in going after the terrorists in that part of the world.  We have not yet been successful in locating or capturing Osama bin Laden, but someday we will be. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  You know, you mentioned Pakistan, and we should not lose sight of the fact that yesterday was the last U.S. military member who went to Pakistan for relief operations left after six months of deployment to that country.  Twenty-four helicopters, at the peak 1,200 U.S. personnel, thousands of lives saved, 40,000 seen in our -- in medical facilities, engineering equipment that helped clear roads and open up lifelines to the people there.  We should all be very proud of the work that our folks did in coordination with the Pakistani government to help them during that very trying period. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Mm-hmm. 

 

            Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes?  Yes. 

 

            Q      Yeah, thank you.  I believe you can see some announcements from Japan about the Futemma relocation, a new proposal draft.  Did you?  Did you see that? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I've not -- I've not received any specific piece of paper, but needless to say our folks have been in extensive discussions with the officials from Japan, and the Japanese officials have been in extensive discussions within Japan, on this subject.  It has been going on now for a number of months, and I feel we're making good progress, and at the appropriate time that officials in Japan will make any announcements that they feel are appropriate. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary -- 

 

            Q      But in the local community, even though -- are now demanding that shorten the runway. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I've read about that. 

 

            Q      You read? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We are negotiating not with the press and not with the local community; we are negotiating with the government of Japan, and they are then dealing with the local government.  And they will work it out.  We have an interest, they have an interest.  And we've had a long and very successful relationship with Japan, and I have every confidence that the issues that are currently being worked on in kind of a final form we'll sort through very soon and very -- in a manner that's consistent with the interests of both countries. 

 

            Q      There are very big differences between the previous one, because the new proposal provides two strips, two runways --  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'll bet you those differences narrow over time.   

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary, with the freedom and perhaps naivete of someone filling in over here, let me attempt another question on Iran, if I may.   

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  A fool's errand.  (Subdued laughter.) 

 

            Q      Yeah.  Let me -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Chuckles.) 

 

            Q      You've dismissed talk of war plans as "fantasyland."  Now the president called them "wild speculation."  But -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You should be very careful about quoting me. You've already started -- 

 

            Q      I have here a quote.  It's "fantasyland." 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I used the word, but I did not use it specifically in the context that you're using it. 

 

            Q      Okay. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And I would caution you to read very carefully precisely what I say -- 

 

            Q      Well, let me use the president's quote, "wild speculation." 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  -- and not what you'd like me to say or what you want other people to think I should say.  You're -- when you're in a hole, stop digging.  (Laughter.) 

 

            Q      Welcome to the Pentagon. 

 

            Q      All right.  "Wild speculation," as the president called it. But on May 21st General Franks told us from this podium that you had not yet asked him to draw up plans for an attack on Iraq.  We learned from Bob Woodward's book that indeed six months earlier you had asked him to draw up such plans.  So why should the American people today believe you and the president when it comes to reports of plans for an attack on Iran? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Now isn't that interesting! 

 

            GEN. PACE:  It is.  I'll tell you, I'm racking my brain on the dates.  I have to go back and -- 

 

            Q      May 21st, 2002, Tommy Franks.  I have a quote, if you'd like it.  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, the first thing I would say is, you're talking about Iraq in that context.  There has always been a -- for ages there have been contingency plans for Iraq.  I mean, I don't know how many years there have been contingency plans for Iraq -- certainly since 1990. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Certainly during the 10 years we were doing -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  In that 10 years.  I mean, every day people were firing the -- correction.  Every week Iraqis were firing at U.S. and British aircraft flying in the north -- northern no-fly zone or the southern no-fly zones.  And I wasn't here.  I was in private life. But during the decade of the '90s, I'm sure that there were contingency plans as to what one would do with respect to Iraq. 

 

            So it's hard for me to believe that General Franks would say that we didn't have contingency plans.  I don't know precisely what the question was that was asked or precisely how he answered it, but clearly this country, for the better part of 15 years, has had various contingency plans.  That's what this government does, is -- the department does, is plan for various contingencies.  And it's not unusual, and one would be critical of the department were they not to have done so. 

 

            Q      So he's --  

 

            Q      So, Mr. Secretary, in recent days, in recent weeks or months, have you asked the Joint Staff of the Central Command, possibly through General Pace, to update, refine, modify the contingencies for possible military options against Iran? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We have I don't know how many various contingency plans in this department.  And the last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan, and why.  It just isn't useful. 

 

            Q      Are you satisfied with the state of planning for Iraq -- Iran options right now? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I am never satisfied.   

 

            I am always thinking that maybe there's something we've not thought of or something we could do better for a noncombatant evacuation from a South American country after an earthquake.  We have literally an enormous number of things that we do.  And I've responded with respect to Iran.  We're on a diplomatic track.  The president has said exactly what he wants said, and we support the president. 

 

            Q      General Pace, in your opening statement, you opened up a little door here by revising history on how we went to war.  You said in the -- when the decision -- when it became apparent that we -- a military action would have to be taken in Iraq, there were like 50 iterations of a plan over two years.  You leave the impression that the decision to go to war was actually a foregone conclusion in late '01, early '02, and throughout the year of '02 the American public was not told the truth on this in terms of -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  He didn't leave the impression of that at all. 

 

            Q      Well, when -- 

 

            GEN. PACE:  What I said was, when it became apparent that we might have to take military action -- 

 

            Q      Yeah, General, over two years, then, you said plans progressed.  That would put you in late '01 --  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  There were plans back in 1990 and '2 and '3 and '5 and '7 and '8!  You just are not listening carefully. 

 

            Q      I was listening carefully.  That's why I asked him that. 

 

            Q      That was my question -- 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Well, do you go from '03 -- what was it?  March of '03.   

 

            Q      Right. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  And using two years loosely, that takes you back to March of '01.  And I just said for about two years, and I said when it became apparent that we might have to -- I mean, you can read as much into that as you want, but I can just tell you, I was simply trying to tell you that the process was an iterative process that involved a lot of trips by Tommy Franks to this.  And you should not read any more  into it than that, because I didn't mean anything more than we started down a deliberate road to ensure that all parts of the planning were properly vetted. 

 

            Q      Well, Mr. Secretary, in November of '01, the president, according to several books that you haven't disputed, said, "Start planning."  And -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Do you think I'm going to stand around reading your books and disputing things in them or validating or not validating? 

 

            Q      Well -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I've got a real daytime job. 

 

            Q      I know --  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I mean, you'd do nothing else but that if you did that.  The fact that I haven't disputed something is -- I mean, if I disputed all the mythology that comes out of this group and the books of the world, I wouldn't have any time to do anything else.   

 

            Q      Yeah, but the record's starting to emerge here in terms of the decision-making track, and we just wanted to ask you.  One -- November of '01, you were asked by the president to start looking into updating plans and -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't remember that myself, and I'd have to go back and look.   

 

            Q      Woodward --  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  But there's -- it is -- oh, Woodward's book is not the Bible. 

 

            Q      I know that.  (Off mike.) 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Some of you may not know that.  (Subdued laughter.) 

 

            Q      The editors know that.  (Laughter.) 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Chuckles.) 

 

            GEN. PACE:  But I do appreciate the opportunity to correct the record, because in fact in March of '01 I was still the commander of U.S. Southern Command and had no opportunity at all.  So I did misspeak by saying two years. 

 

            Q      Okay. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  I was wrong there. 

 

            What -- the intent was to tell you that it went on for a period of time.  I didn't become vice chairman until 1 October of 2001, and that's where my -- that's where I got on this train and where my knowledge of planning begins.  It was after -- subsequent to that, obviously, that I became knowledgeable of any kind of planning. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You know, I -- I'd have to go look at my calendar.  But I'll bet there is not a three-week period -- I'm sure I'm wrong -- but I'm going to guess there hasn't been a three-week period in years that I have not been engaged in a meeting with a combatant commander from some part of the world, going over with them the planning process, that they have a statutory responsibility to perform. 

 

            Where they take a responsibility for a geographic area, they look at it, they say, "What conceivably could go wrong?"  Then we talk about the kinds of things that might go wrong.  Then they come in with a plan of how they're going to address the various things that could conceivably go wrong in their area of responsibility.  Then they take one of them in sequence, and they'll say, "Here are the assumptions that we're going to operate on.  How do you feel about that?"  Then Pete and I and others and the chiefs will talk about the assumptions, and we'll get that right.  Then they'll go back out and they'll start to develop a plan based on those assumptions for that particular niche.  Then we work through that -- that may take six months -- back and forth, back and forth.  Then they'll take another piece of their responsibility and do the same thing. 

 

            This goes on all the time.  This has been going on for decades in this department. 

 

            Q      General Pace? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You've been very patient.  Thank you. 

 

            Q      You -- when you talk about some of the -- all the opportunities people had to criticize -- generals in particular having criticized the war, is it the case that people like General Eaton, who were, you know, in office at the time, failed to speak up when that came up?  Or were there voices of dissent that raised criticisms such as they're raising now? 

 

            GEN. PACE:  I do not know whether or not General Eaton ever spoke up or not.  I never became aware of any concerns he had until he recently started publishing. 

 

            With regard to others who had any kind of concerns at all -- and there were many.  I mean, when you sit around a table talking about military operations, there are lots of concerns.  There are concerns, you know, properly voiced by the civilian leaders -- you know, "If this doesn't work, what's going to happen," and those kinds of things. There's concerns voiced by the military to make sure we have adequate resources plus some to make sure -- so there's all kinds of dialogue that goes on. 

 

            And that's why it's so important that you understand how the process works because it's in that back-and-forth, those 50 or 60 iterations, that those kinds of issues get put on the table. 

 

            I can tell you categorically that at the end of the day, when it was time for the Joint Chiefs to listen to General Franks' last presentation, that we were satisfied that he had a good, executable plan, and we so told the Secretary of Defense and the president of the United States. 

 

            It's also important to go back and take a look -- and when you look at people talking -- when did their personal knowledge end?  I misstated two years.  But also, people's personal knowledge ends. 

 

            So, for example, General Newbold left his job as a J-3 in the summer of 2002.   

 

            I think his final date on active duty was 30 September 2002.  He left a little bit before that.  That's September 2002, six months and many iterations of the plan before we actually ended up going into Iraq. So people's knowledge bases are different and they see the world from where they get on and get off a train.  And it's important to keep that in mind. 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      A question of military capability.  You know, America's potential enemies, who watch you on television, may look at things right now and say, "Well, the U.S. is, you know, fully engaged in Iraq."  What would you say to those who question whether the U.S. military can, in fact, take on a second major military contingency? And what is your assessment at the moment of the U.S. military's ability to destroy deeply buried targets?  That's a subject both of you have previously publicly discussed. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  I will not answer the second question.  I will answer the first.   

 

            My responsibility is to, along with the Joint Chiefs, to look at the potential for conflict elsewhere in the world.  We routinely, about once a quarter, take a look at the worst possible scenario that might unfold over the next coming months and then take a look at the resources available to handle that.  To put it in gross terms for you, we have just over 200,000 U.S. servicemembers in the  Gulf region right now.  We have 2.4 million U.S. servicemembers available to the country -- active, Guard and Reserve.  So you've got about 2 million U.S. servicemembers who are not currently involved directly in the Gulf region.  We have sufficient personnel, weapons, equipment, you name it, to handle any adversary that might come along. 

 

            Q      Why not answer the question on buried targets, since you have -- I mean, you have a number of open, public programs in the U.S. military on that subject.  Why are you unable to talk about that today? 

 

            GEN. PACE:  I do not want to talk about tactics, techniques and procedures, nor do I want to give away military secrets that could help the enemy. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes? 

 

            Q      Mr. Secretary -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We'll make this the last question. 

 

            Q      -- General Pace in his opening statement was responding, as he mentioned a moment ago, to Lieutenant General Newbold's essay in Time magazine.  And in calling for you to step down, Mr. Secretary, in referring to the civilian leadership he said, "The commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who had never had to execute these missions or bury the results."   

 

            Do you take that personally?  Does that sting?  I mean, what is your reaction to a statement like that? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, first of all, I haven't read it.  Second, he never raised an issue, publicly or privately, when he was here that I know of, or -- do you know of any? 

 

            GEN. PACE:  No.  And to make sure you understand, my opening comment was not directed at General Newbold.  My opening comment was directed at several articles that have been out here.  I used his timeline as an example in answering Barbara's question. 

 

            Q      You did mention General Newbold's name.  And in response, you were saying, sir, that General Newbold never raised any objections or -- 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Not to my knowledge, no. 

 

            Q      -- concerns about the war plans. 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Nor to mine.  Nor to mine. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, I just -- he just didn't.  Plenty people did, and I did, lots of people did, and talked about it.  But we had discussions in the department, we had discussions in the National Security Council, we had discussions with the president.  And they were extensive discussions.  There are an awful lot of people around here who aren't shy about giving their views.  So it's not something that concerns me, because I think that -- I guess he was working on the Joint Staff, but in terms of why he would come up with this now, I just can't speak to that, I'm sorry. 

 

            Q      Do you think people are rewriting history? 

 

            GEN. PACE:  Okay, wait a minute.  It would be unfair for me leave you with the idea that he never said anything critical.  As the director for operations on the Joint Staff, he certainly had the responsibility, as we all do as we sit around the table to discuss, and I'm sure during those discussions he did. 

 

            What I'm trying to point out is that no later than the 3rd of September of 2002, he no longer had that responsibility.  He no longer was on active duty.  The plan evolved for six more months before it was executed, and therefore, there's a knowledge base there from which extrapolating to what happened in those six months really should not be done. 

 

            Q      General Pace? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you, folks. 

 

            Q      Happy Easter to you and your family. 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you.

 

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