Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 1:15 p.m. EDT
Rumsfeld: Greetings, greetings, greetings. Good afternoon. I don't have any announcements to speak of. Look at the beard [on a correspondent in the front row]. Holy mackerel -- wow! (Laughter.) That's impressive.
Q: I'm on a protest here. I am not shaving until you make a real decision. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, you're so bad. You are so bad.
Q: Now to the real decision.
Rumsfeld: Now to the real decision? Well, I did just want to stop down and spend a few minutes before I go off on vacation for next week. And as to the chairman, that's a presidential announcement, as you all know, and he'll make that in good time. We will be meeting with him tomorrow, as we do periodically, and have throughout the last seven months on a fairly regular basis, for an update.
I would like to make a clarification on a totally separate subject, and that is the issue of personnel. There's been some speculation in the press that the QDR might address the length of tours and the length of service. And the answer is it is unlikely to, except in the sense that because the matter is so complex we very likely will have an element of QDR that will recommend a study be done to look at all the implications of some modest revisions of those two aspects of personnel policy. Whether they'll -- what the study would conclude, I don't know. But it is something that I've been interested in, and I didn't want -- there was some speculation that there might be some decisions in the QDR with respect to that, and there will not be.
What we have been doing in August, as you know, is working on the defense planning guide, which is now pretty well along, and the Quadrennial Defense Review. The -- September is going to be a busy time with respect to the 2002 budget, from everything one reads these days. And we need every nickel of that, and intend to be working with the Congress, as well as the president and the White House, to see that that happens.
As you noted, the president has indicated that defense is a top priority for him, and he intends to be assisting to see that the full $18.4 billion tab that is up there is passed.
With that I'll stop, and be happy to respond to questions. Yes?
Q: Mr. Secretary, the president said this morning that the United States will withdraw from the ABM Treaty. He made no secret that you intend to do that, either unilaterally or jointly with the Russians.
Rumsfeld: He said that?
Q: Well, he -- yes, he said the United States intended to withdraw from the treaty.
Rumsfeld: Mmm-hmm. (In acknowledgement.) I did not know that. I hadn't seen that.
Q: -- clear at all -- he used the word "withdraw" -- but he made it clear the United States will, as he said, move beyond the treaty.
Rumsfeld: I was asked yesterday about something Mr. Bolton said, and it turns out that when the clarification came out he had not said it. So, I'm a little nervous about -- (laughter) -- responding to things that are reported but not verified. As Ronald Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." (Laughter.)
Q: When does the United States intend to issue its six-month notification to the Russians?
Rumsfeld: Oh, that's --
Q: Do you think it will be sooner or later?
Rumsfeld: That's a presidential call, and that is something that he'll address what he decides to do about it at all, and as well as when he decides what to do about it.
Q: And did you see Mel Laird's op-ed piece in the Washington Post?
Rumsfeld: I did. In fact, I saw Mel this morning. He was in the building, and we had a good visit. We had a whole group of defense experts in this morning to visit with them about what we are doing and where we are going.
Q: I mean, he says the United States can in fact -- the United States and Russia could change the treaty, amend the treaty allowing the United States to still develop and deploy missile defense, and at the same time given that Russia continues to (show us?) something on paper on arms control. Do you agree with that?
Rumsfeld: There are any -- Mel is a smart man. There is obviously any number of ways that things could be arranged between the United States and Russia going forward. The president's position has been that he believes it's in our country's interests to have the ability to defend against ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the United States, as well as deployed forces and friends and allies. To get from where we are to being able to do that is, as I say, there are any number of formats that conceivably could be used. And that's what's taking place in these discussions and negotiations that are under way. And only time will tell what the president finally decides he wants to do and what the Russian leadership decides what they finally want to do.
Q: So you would leave open the possibility --
Rumsfeld: The president --
Q: -- amending the treaty, you're not for posing on that?
Rumsfeld: The president can obviously as president decide whatever he wishes, and make those proposals, and see what can be discussed with the Russians. But it's not for me to open options or close options in that.
Q: Is --
Q: Mr. Secretary, regarding your review of the military that has been going on these many months, what do you say to those who have concluded that you have been forced to scale back your expectations for transforming the military?
Rumsfeld: Well, I would say that to be able to scale back your expectations one would have to know what my expectations have been and where they are now, neither of which have been publicly revealed, because I was still developing my expectations, and have not gotten to the point where scaling is appropriate.
What I tried to do the other day [ transcript ] was to describe what transformation is, and what I think it not to be. And, as I indicated, it can be a new platform, something that's totally distinctive -- like a satellite was a transforming event. It also can be something totally different than a platform. It can be sets of connectivity and interoperability that totally changes outcomes and capability -- not because you have new platforms, but because you have fundamentally changed how those platforms function and what the ultimate effect of them is.
When I explained that last week, some raced off and wrote articles suggesting that that is scaling back one's appetite or interest or expectation for transformation, which it wasn't at all. It was an effort to describe what transformation can be.
As I think I said, the blitzkrieg, the transformation estimate as to what was actually transformed in that force is somewhere between 12 and 15 percent, and that behind it were horses and buggies and -- figuratively -- possibly even literally. And yet the effect, the outcome, was transforming.
And that was the point I was trying to make.
No. I think I know what my expectations are, and I think they have been at the beginning realistic, and they are realistic today. And they certainly have not been scaled back.
Q: The perception is that you met resistance both from the military and from the White House in terms of resources, and that that has been forcing you to change your approach, scale back your --
Rumsfeld: We have not gotten to that point yet. Where we -- we talked about resources the last time we were here, and we all understand what that situation is, and that's why I said we certainly need every single cent in the '02 budget.
With respect to what needs to be scaled back, if anything, at some point, the short answer is that there has never been a budget built where things weren't scaled back from a level that represented the appetites. And what will happen is this: The Defense Planning Guidance and fiscal -- fiscal guidance is out -- the Defense Planning Guidance goes out. And it says, Okay, entities, components of the Department of Defense, here's the situation: Come back with proposals that fit these constraints and these priorities with respect to the things we opined on in the guidance. With respect to the other things, come back with your best recommendations. We then will take those, look at them together, across the services, across the components; see what trade-offs you've made, see if they fit coherently with the other services and the other components; say yes, no or maybe. We may calibrate somewhat on the priorities and constraints that we put in. If we think that it causes an effect that is undesirable, we may quibble and argue about whether or not we think that the trade-off that the service is recommending or a component is recommending is one we think fits with the whole, in which case we would say so, and they would go back and do it differently.
As I said down here one day, the idea that we have gone from telling the services what to do down to telling the services, Do anything you want, is a -- reflects an inability to understand nuance. (Laughter.)
Q: Can you -- can you yet give us any clue about, in terms of where this transformation is going, now that the final Defense Planning Guidance is done --
Rumsfeld: Sure --
Q: -- whether or not it will result in a military that is any smaller? Will there be any cuts?
Rumsfeld: Oh, in terms -- oh, here we go -- that's where every question ends up. (Laughter.)
Q: The bottom line --
Rumsfeld: I want to talk about transformation, and you want to talk about what it's going to do to --
Q: I just want to know when it transforms will it be any smaller than it is?
Rumsfeld: Well --
Q: You have no clue yet?
Rumsfeld: Until the services come in with their recommendations -- we look at them against the other recommendations from the components and begin to make some judgments about how do we feel about those trade-offs. You can't know -- that's not knowable at this stage with respect to the '03 budget build.
The -- what you can know something about is transformation. You can know that we -- as you already know now -- we have indicated we intend to increase investment in S&T [science and technology]. We have been looking at something that in my view could conceivably be transforming, and that will be reflected in the Defense Planning Guidance, and that's some changes in the concept of how we are organized, in terms of standing joint task forces. And I think that could conceivably be quite important. And if you do not have a standing task force capable of assuring you that in a very short period of time you can get into business, in the event you need to be in business, you have substantially reduced the president's options. Conversely, if you do have it ready to go, capable of doing things, you may not only substantially increase the president's options, but you may very well provide options in the pre-war period, in the crisis period, that enables you to substantially affect the deterrent in a way that dissuades somebody from doing something that could cause that conflict.
And I mean if -- I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but in Kosovo the war was over, and they had only gotten up to about 82 percent staffing of the joint task force, because it wasn't a standing joint task force. It was hauled together at the last minute to try to deal with the problem. And so the things was entirely over by the time they ended up with not 100 percent but 82 percent. And they ended up with people who hadn't worked together, who hadn't functioned together, who hadn't dealt with the same systems. And that it seems to me flies in the face of the idea that you should fight like you train and train like you fight. And so we have got some work going on in that area in several respects that I think could be potentially transforming in a meaningful way.
Q: Do you want to get the U.S. military out of the business of supporting law enforcement on counter-drug operations? Is that something that should be a military mission?
Rumsfeld: We've got a series of -- we have got two things going on. One is at OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and one is in the joint -- the chairman has initiated, and that is a review of the things we are doing around the world -- the things we are doing and where we are doing them. And that is part of that review. And what we need to do is not say, Is something good, bad or indifferent? -- but rather, Compared to what? Is this more important than that activity? And which activity is more important in that country, and which activity is more important in that region?
Now, that is underway, and it was initiated by the president, and his comments that he feels that the perstempo was too high and that we needed to moderate it in a way, and you don't do those things abruptly -- you do them thoughtfully, and you make sure that what's left over is what you want left over.
Now, with respect to the specific question, I don't speak for the administration on the drug issue. I'll offer a personal comment, that my view is that it tends to be very much a demand problem, and that the demand is so enormous that it takes enormous efforts to prevent that supply from coming into this country. And you probably -- again, while I am not an expert and it's not my area of responsibility, you probably need to do a lot of things. And certainly an anti-drug effort in terms of interdiction is one of the things you would want to do, as well as a number of other things to try to reduce the demand.
The interesting thing to me about the role that the United States has in the drug interdiction or drug eradication or drug enforcement area outside the continental limits of the United States is that in many instances it is characterized as an anti-drug effort, but in fact it also plays a role with respect to contributing to stability in a region. Where you have a large narco-trafficking activity, you end up with areas that are in a sense not being governed by the governments of those areas. And that is a threat to democracy, and a problem. So it may very well be that some of those activities have a merit beyond the specific anti-drug aspect of it. By going after the very powerful and very wealthy narco-traffickers' source of revenue, you can have an effect conceivably on restoring to governments the ability to govern their countries.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Mr. Secretary, as you go to brief the president tomorrow -- I don't mean to beat a dead horse here, but if the president asks you, you know, at the end of the day, Mr. Secretary, you mean to tell me you don't know after this planning guidance that you are going to cut or add to the military force? You don't know that some weapons systems are going to have to go, and you can't give me your ideas as to what might have to go?
Rumsfeld: What I --
Q: Do you not know it, or can you just not tell us?
Rumsfeld: What we have done is we have looked at the world and fashioned a strategy and a force-sizing construct that we believe is appropriate. We have established priorities, and we have moved well through the QDR process. And the -- make a note and come back to that -- and we have established some defense planning guidance which will set forth to the services and the components areas that we feel need to be addressed in a priority manner. And they are areas that balance those four risks I've discussed: the risk of not modernizing, the risk of not transforming, and the risk of not taking care of the force, in addition to the issue of operational risk.
Now, this is saying, basically, to the defense establishment, look, you've done a good job on balancing risks operationally. We have not done a good job in balancing risk with respect to the damage to the force and the damage to the infrastructure and the slow modernization and the slow transformation. So, we want to put all of them up on the table. And then we want you to address them, come back with programs that fund them. And, then come back with the rest and say how you're going to do that with the rest of the force.
So, start with that.
Now, what that does is it forces them to look out and ask themselves questions. Would I rather have one more of these things or would I -- am I comfortable allowing the force to deteriorate, or allowing the infrastructure to deteriorate some more, or not modernizing some weapon system, or running the risks that in two, three or four years you could be in a conflict somewhere in the world and be stricken deaf, dumb and blind because of information warfare.
Now, those are tough questions, and they're not as much fun for people who like to talk about this weapon or that weapon, or this base or that base, or this size force or that size force. But they're -- they are very tough intellectual questions, and they represent, as Paul Wolfowitz mentioned down here one day [ transcript ], a paradigm shift in how things ought to be thought about. And that is the process we're going though. And when anyone asks me -- the president, or you, or anyone else -- my answer is we are doing exactly what he asked. He asked us to do a review. We have done that review. The Congress has asked us to do a Quadrennial Defense Review. We are doing that review. He has asked for a nuclear posture review. We are doing that review. We are well along in all of them. And we have a process which, in my mind, will produce a series of outcomes by the services in a set of recommendations and trade-offs that we will then be making -- as every Pentagon has, every year in the fall, during every budget cycle since the process was begun by, I believe, McNamara.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: The joint task force issue -- I understand that the services and the CINCs even are more interested in experimenting with a limited headquarters element that would be joint as an entire task force. I'm wondering if that's sort of your way of thinking at this point, and if you think that's actually going far enough in creating a joint force?
Rumsfeld: In -- my view is that you don't go from here to here. You tend to take things in steps. And I think it's probably appropriate. One of the things we're looking at is for each of the combatant commanders to come in with proposals as to how they might fashion a standing joint task force, and then select the elements of the various proposals that come in and establish a single model, and then require each of the combatant commanders to use that model and have that so that people -- forces can be swung, and people can be swung between the various commands and not find themselves in an uncomfortable, unfamiliar, non-interoperable environment. And that is one aspect of it.
You know, how fast you go to the final step is something that we will not know until they come back and we have a chance to discuss those. We're also looking at another one that is more in the information area.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the impact the new surplus figures have on your plans, not only for '02 but '03? They seem to put a real crimp in what you wanted to do -- (inaudible) -- play out. You know, we've got CBO next week -- that's probably -- they're probably going to deliver more bad news. How does that shape your thinking here?
Rumsfeld: We need every nickel, and we'll be working to get it.
Q: Yeah, but you need every nickel, but the nickels are diminished. Now, how do you --
Rumsfeld: Well, the defense is a priority that's distinctive, and the president has indicated that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I'm wondering if you could just take a step outside the building for a moment and talk about your relationship with Colin Powell and the State Department over the past seven months. There's some white noise out there, some sniping and some counter-sniping on issues like North Korea, troops in the Balkans and dealings with China. Based on your government service, how do you see these two branches of the government working thus far in the Bush administration?
Rumsfeld: I guess I'd probably say about better than I have ever seen. Colin Powell and I talk, you know, two or three times a day. We meet several times a week. We are good friends. He is an enormously talented person who I respect and learn from. And, the amount of static in the system -- I, of course, I don't pay as much attention as probably I should, but I -- and I don't hear a lot, I'm awfully busy -- but I'm sure there is some static in the system. There always has been in bureaucracies. Down six, eight, 10 layers, people are going to be unhappy about this one day, and unhappy about that another day. But, between the two of us, we must solve six or eight problems every two or three days just on the phone. And --
Q: How many have you had?
Rumsfeld: Any time there is an issue that comes up and someone says -- I'm trying to think of one I could just give you. Oh, sure -- in Macedonia, there's a road closed right now. And it's notably unhelpful. And it is the access -- one of the access routes up towards our zone in Kosovo. And Colin and I talked about this. There's meeting down some level and people can't seem to figure out what to do about it. And I get on the phone with Colin, and in five minutes he says that sounds right to me, and gets on the phone. And the next thing you know, a demarche is being made and the system works. So, there is some person who keeps writing an article about every three or four weeks, trying to stir the pot. And I guess she just can't find anything else to do. (Laughter.) Sometimes I tease like that. (Laughter.) I'm just kidding.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us who that person is?
Rumsfeld: No. (Laughter.) You might know.
Q: A budget question. You have a Republican in the House, Jim Nussle, and a Democrat in the Senate, Kent Conrad, both saying that they won't support, at this point anyway, an 18.4 billion [dollar] increase in the 2002 plan. Could you talk a little bit about what -- that would suggest that it's quite likely that it will be cut, and could you talk about what that would do to the military if that happened?
Rumsfeld: Well, see, I don't know that it's quite likely that it will be cut. Now, I am no more an expert than anyone else and the issue has not been cast yet in a way that one could start counting noses. But -- but the need is so serious and so real, and the president's commitment is clear, and I've generally found that there are always some people who are against defense spending at any level. And yet when the votes tend to be done, they seem to find a majority to support a strong national defense. And I suspect that that will be the case this time. But I -- I can't -- I don't have any nose count. Yes?
Q: Mr. Secretary, in Macedonia, NATO has said it hopes to complete this operation within 30 days. Is that realistic as the time frame? And if it doesn't happen, what's -- what's the fall back plan?
Rumsfeld: I think -- when you say is that realistic, I think we need to first define "that." And the NATO agreement is precisely the following: It is that in a benign environment with a political agreement by both sides committed, and with a security agreement, a plan to actually understand what kinds of weapons, where, when and by whom the weapons will be picked up, that is the assignment. It is a very narrow, precise assignment. Is it possible to do that in 30 days? Heck, it's possible to do it in 10 days. You know, once you get all of those preconditions set, you can put up a few locations, you can use some of the locations along the Kosovo border, and use troops from the other side -- our troops or others -- to help, and it ought to be doable. Now, will there be debate about that's all -- whether that's all the weapons? Will there be debate as to whether some were buried or something? Sure. But the relatively narrow task that's been assigned is certainly something that's doable, although I've never been one that admires deadlines unless they're necessary.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: Let me stop over here. I think they have a hook over here.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been calls within NATO, like a Danish general this morning asking for a new phase in Macedonia, saying that 30 days is not enough and that basically there are much more weapons buried by the rebels. And if you want to go forward, we have to -- to engage in a second phase.
Rumsfeld: Who said this?
Q: It was a Danish general.
Rumsfeld: Well, I can't speak for Denmark, but the NATO council met. The NATO council agreed precisely as to what this effort would be. I've characterized it precisely. And it would take an entirely new decision by the North Atlantic council and by capitals to alter it in any way whatsoever. Yes?
Q: Mr. Secretary, among all the other problems you already have to deal with, the services are feeling increased pain about the environmental issues and encroachment on their bases. And the services are in a tough spot on the Hill and that they would like to get some kind of relief from some of the environmental laws, endangered species act and those kinds of things.
Is this anything that has worked into your level of attention yet?
Rumsfeld: I have heard of the problem of encroachment. I have not gotten into the environmental details with respect to the issue, expect to know that it's a big item in the budget. And I have not familiarized myself with what specific kinds of relief is being asked for, but I can certainly do that. And Craig Quigley is undoubtedly an expert on it anyway.
Q: Mr. Secretary, if I could just step away from reality for a moment and back to perception
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible) --
Q: Your image -- your image has been taking a beating in the press lately --
Rumsfeld: It's been my week in the bell (?), hasn't it?
Q: -- writers and pundits. Maureen Dowd called you "Rip van Rummy."
Rumsfeld: You know, it takes a -- it takes a certain perspective for a person to characterize 25 years in the private sector as a nap. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, how do you react to this criticism --
Rumsfeld: With good humor.
Q: -- that you're clueless about how the world is working now, and you're making misstep after misstep?
Rumsfeld: Well, I must say I have to agree with people that it's complicated. I have to agree that it's hard. And I have to agree that a paradigm shift tends not to be instantaneously understood. And I have to agree that it would be wonderful if every single complex set of problems could be reduced to a bumper sticker. But, absent that, and none of which I believe are possible -- and if they are it's possible for someone other than me -- but absent that, I find that repetition is probably the best thing one can do, and investing the time it takes to help people understand what something is new looks like and tastes like and feels like as you roll it around in your mouth. And that's the process that we're going through.
And I suspect that what will happen -- you know, what you really need in this business is several handfuls of thoughtful people who understand it, who are interested in it, and who are willing to help with it, and there's no doubt in mind that we'll find those several handfuls in the Congress, we'll find them in this building, and we'll -- we'll see some motion going forward. Yes?
Q: Mr. Secretary, there's an off chance that I just might want to write something about General Myers -- I don't know why, but just -- just an off chance. And I was wondering, can you --
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible) --
Q: -- can you tell us a little bit about, you know, your dealings with him, what kind of a guy he is, just, you know, anything -- pretty much anything about General Myers.
Rumsfeld: Off-the-record -- (laughter) -- she ought to be interviewing Condit. (Laughter.) Don't report that I said that. (Laughter.)
That's a tough question. How do you answer that? Let me see.
Q: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: General Shelton and Dick Myers and Paul Wolfowitz and I and the chiefs and the CINCs have all worked very closely together. And when you spend that many hours with people, you end up getting to know them pretty darn well. So I can say, of all of them, that one has to have respect for them and recognize the good fortune our country has to have men and women serving in the armed forces of that quality.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Trent Lott wrote you again this week, complaining about the cross-Atlantic trust ramifications of General Dynamics' takeover of Newport News. Have you made any recommendations to the Justice Department yet on the battle between Newport News and -- (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: I have not.
Q: Has the department -- or is it drawing --
Rumsfeld: You'd have to get Craig to know what the communications with Justice have been on that subject. I know I have not been involved.
Q: Sir, are you recused from that case? There's buzz that you had to recuse yourself from any decision on that because of prior stock holdings.
Rumsfeld: I'll go over that just so the rumor mill will be modestly clarified. And again, I'm afraid there's no bumper stick for it. My situation continues to be that I still own one or two, down from a very large number, of so-called illiquid investments, investments where you put a small amount of money down, make a commitment to a larger amount of money to be called over a period of time.
The investor that takes that money from six, eight, 10, 40, 50, 100 people, invests in things. And they keep it confidential what they invest in. And they periodically have to issue a report, but it's always after the fact. And so the investors cannot know what they own at any given time. Correction: What the investment fund owns and what the investor owns is a small fraction of that fund.
So the two that are left, I don't even know the names of them. The bulk have been sold at a considerable discount. That is to say, if I had a 100 percent investment, they were, you know, anywhere from 70 to 50 to 30 to 10 percent of value. And the two that are left, I don't know the names of. I don't know what they own. And that presents a problem, because it's conceivable that one of them might have invested in something at some time that someone would characterize as being involved with the Defense Department.
For example, I was required to take my deferred compensation which I earned at Kellogg, as a member of the board of directors, and insure it by an insurance policy to insure my deferred compensation -- because it's not a funded program, it's a cash-drawer program -- because Kellogg sells cereal, and some people in the Pentagon buy it. And the fear was that I might make a decision that would benefit Kelloggs if they were in financial trouble, and I saw my deferred compensation going down the drain.
So I had to buy an insurance policy so that the citizens of America would be protected from me making a decision involving Kellogg for an amount of money that, from my standpoint, was modest. And that kind of an attitude is exactly what can cause a problem if I had gotten involved in making a lot of decisions on weapons. So I have tended to stay away from them thus far.
We've got senior people who are perfectly capable of doing them, and I have not formally recused myself in a lot of things. I have just tended to stay away.
I have stayed away also from one other thing, and that is meetings where AIDS is being discussed, not because I am an investor in anything involving AIDS but because I used to be chairman of a company, and still own some stock, and that company has an AIDS drug that is not public yet. It is still in its trial stage. But at some point it may be approved by the FDA, and I am going to try to be so very careful.
But it is really -- if you think about it from my standpoint, take those last two investments. I can't give them away, because what I invested is about a tenth of what I owe. And so if I gave it away, I would be giving away a mortgage to somebody. (Laughs.) And there's not many recipients standing around asking to have those.
But from my standpoint, you know, it is such a de minimis part of my -- first of all, I have no knowledge of what they own. I have no knowledge of even the names of the companies at this stage. And the percentage of my investment is so modest that it's ridiculous. But that's the way the town works.
Q: Did you take a huge financial hit to take this job?
Q: How much did your net worth decrease by taking the job?
Rumsfeld: A lot.
Rumsfeld: I'm not into that, but there's no question that it is --
Rumsfeld: I don't know that I want to pay my accountant to calculate it. (Laughter.) I am about to go on vacation, and I intend to go happily, without an additional bill.
Ladies and gentlemen, have a nice weekend. See you in September.
Q: Thanks a lot.