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DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 25, 2001

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2001 - 12:18 p.m. EDT

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. The answer to the first question --

Q: We haven't asked it yet. What's the name?

Rumsfeld: -- is "Enduring Freedom."

Q: Much more -- (off mike).

Rumsfeld: Indeed.

With the --

Q: You're not going to take it back, you're going to stick with that?

Rumsfeld: Unless it too has a problem. Which after the vetting we've been engaged in, would be a disappointment.

Q: A leak-free vetting it has been.

Rumsfeld: Pardon me?

Q: And a leak-free vetting it has been.

Rumsfeld: Has it? It has? (Laughter.) I guess we should take pleasure in small favors.

But it is -- the question as to what it is the name of is a separate issue, yet to be resolved. (Laughter.) And -- because, as you know, there are phrases or words that are applied to elements of things, and I would not want to leave the impression that this was the umbrella phrase for the entire effort that's taking place. I think you'll find other names and phrases that will creep up during different aspects of the exercise.

Q: Would you say it's the military's current response to it -- the military, as opposed to the overall U.S. response, this is the military's current response?

Rumsfeld: For the moment, yes. Although there are some sub-phrases that are also pieces that may not have yet been made public.

Q: This doesn't include the port security section of it, does it?

Rumsfeld: No, I would think of it as DoD-related.

With the president's actions yesterday directed at the financing of terrorists and terrorist networks, the continuing deployment of U.S. forces, the recent announcement by the United Arab Emirates that they were severing relationships with Taliban, and the announcement today by Saudi Arabia that they too are severing their relations with Taliban, not to mention the continuing displays of unity and resolve that we've seen in the United States, suggests to me that people in terrorist networks have to begin to take a look at the world in a somewhat different way. There's no question but that the American people, when stirred, can be united and purposeful and, indeed, relentless.

I want to say that later this afternoon, Secretary Colin Powell and I will be going up to speak to the -- I don't know which is first, but the members of the Senate and, in a separate situation, the members of the House. That is a very unusual event. They do not frequently have sessions like that. I can recall doing it only one other time in my lifetime, and that was when we presented the report of the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission in, I believe, 1998. And we met with the -- all the members of the House, Republican and Democrat, for a classified briefing.

There's no question but that the people involved in the acts against the World Trade and the Pentagon had to have hoped that it would terrorize the American people. Instead, I think we've seen the nation come together. And certainly the Congress has been a source of unity and resolve, and there's no question but that they have responded in a very encouraging way as Americans, as opposed to Republicans or Democrats.

I will be thanking the Senate, and particularly Chairman Levin and ranking member Senator John Warner, for passing the Efficient Facilities Initiative. There's no question but that we do need to transform the military, as the president said in his Citadel speech, and as I have said repeatedly since January, to see that we're arranged to deal with the so-called asymmetrical threats -- the homeland defense issues, weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and terrorism.

And if you think of just the issue of force protection and the need to -- we're all familiar with that phrase in the context of U.S. forces outside of the continental limits of the United States. We don't think of it really as much with respect to U.S. forces inside the continental limits of the United States or indeed the -- all the 50 states. We've tended not to do that. But certainly the need is clear, and we are addressing those questions.

And if we are able to over time reduce the number of bases we have and provide the kind of force protection that's appropriate for the number of bases we need as opposed to the number of bases we have, why, that is an important step in dealing with the problems of op tempo, which, of course, were noticeable prior to this event and, with all the demands on the Pentagon in the period since, have become even more noticeable.

As I've mentioned previously, we are engaged in a very broad-based effort. We do not intend to simply go after one or two people or one or two networks. We do intend to have the entire United States government engaged in this over a sustained period of time. As you know, the president froze the assets of some 27 different entities, including some terrorist organizations and individual leaders, a corporation that serves as a front, and a number of nonprofit organizations. That will be followed by additional steps on the financial and economic and diplomatic as well as military sides of the equation.

Needless to say, there's not going to be a D-Day as such, and I'm sure there will not be a signing ceremony on the Missouri as such. This is not something that begins with a significant event or ends with a significant event. It is something that will involve a sustained effort over a good period of time.

Let there be no doubt as well that there will not be a single coalition as there was in the Gulf War. The kinds of things we're going to be engaged in will engage some countries on one aspect of it and still other countries on another aspect of it. And we will see revolving coalitions that will evolve and change over time depending on the activity and the circumstance of the country. The mission needs to define the coalition, and we ought not to think that a coalition should define the mission.

In this effort, victory means crippling the ability of terrorist organizations to coerce and terrorize and otherwise disrupt the way of life of the men and women in the United States and our friends and allies around the world. There's no question but that some steps will be visible, as in a traditional conflict, and in other cases they will be not visible. It will not be an antiseptic war, I regret to say. It will be difficult. It will be dangerous. And there is, as we are aware, the -- and have to regret to say -- the likelihood is that more people may be lost.

But what's at stake here is our way of life, and our ability to remain engaged in the world. And to recognize that that is the underpinning of peace and stability in the world, and being able to live without fear is a worthy cause.

And with that I'll stop and be happy to respond to questions.

Yes, Charlie?

Q: Mr. Secretary, aside from what you've said about there will not be a D-Day or defining beginning or ending moment in this, you have deployed forces abroad. Are there now adequate forces in the Gulf, Middle East, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean -- are there now adequate forces in place and ready, if President Bush orders an attack on Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld: Well, let me put it this way. If and when the president decides that there is a specific activity that he wants us to be engaged in, you can be certain we'll be prepared to be engaged in it. But I do not think of it as static. I don't think that one ought to think, well, you've moved this from here to there, and therefore that's that, because it will be a continuum. There will be things changing as we go along, and it is not the kind of an effort that anyone could plot out and say it's going to start here and end there. Because it will be -- it's a matter of using the full force of our government and our friends and allies around the world, who are concerned about this problem, in making a series of incremental steps that create an environment that's inhospitable to people who are determined to kill other people through terrorist acts.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, by saying there will be no D-Day, are you saying that the beginning of the military part of this campaign will not be visible, in fact?

Rumsfeld: No. I'm just trying to draw a distinction between the vocabulary and the mindset that all of us tend to have by thinking through past events or, in the case of younger people, films of past events. I can remember D-Day and the signing on the Missouri.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can you help us understand how just the build-up of force has already had an impact, in your view, on some of the diplomacy in the neighborhood, without ever firing a shot? Do you feel that you have begun to have an impact just with that build-up, one? Two, the Afghan opposition forces -- how can they help you?

Rumsfeld: Well, I suppose you're right. It is true that as forces are deployed, people who have reason to be frightened have to take steps to change their behavior in a way that probably adds cost and adds difficulty to them, and that's not a bad thing.

What was the second part of your question?

Q: The opposition troops in Afghanistan -- what -- how --

Rumsfeld: If you think of what you're trying to do, you've -- in Afghanistan, you've got a very mixed picture. You have the Northern Alliance in the north, you have the Taliban, you have a number of tribes in the south. And it is not a perfectly clear picture where everyone fits into a nice box.

There are many Afghan people who are being starved, who are fleeing for their lives, and it's just a terrible shame, and we have to do everything possible we can from a humanitarian standpoint to see that their lives are made better than they currently are by the Taliban government and by the circumstance they're living in. They don't support the Taliban. They don't support the al Qaeda network.

Then there are people in the Taliban who don't agree with Omar and they don't agree with the -- becoming -- creating a hospitable environment for al Qaeda. And then there are people in [the] Taliban who do. And then there's the Northern Alliance that doesn't like any of it. There are tribes in the south that have different views. And what we need to do is to incrementally take steps that lead, for whatever reason, and it's a little like a billiard table trying to figure out exactly how it might happen. The balls careen around for a while, you don't know what'll do it, but the end result, we would hope, would be a situation where the al Qaeda is heaved out and the people in Taliban who think that it's good for them and good for the world to harbor terrorists and to foment and encourage and facilitate that kind of activity, lose, and lose seriously.

Q: Mr. Secretary, going back to your transformation, you've gotten a bigger pot of money from the Congress now than you had before September 11th. You still have some unfinished business: weapons systems such as Joint Strike Fight, Osprey, et cetera, DD-21. And yet it would seem, based on the current threat, these are not the weapons you need to fight this war on terrorism. Have you changed your approach at all as to the focus of your transformation? And have you made decisions on these weapons systems? Have you sped up the process?

Rumsfeld: No, we'll deal with those in the order that I have suggested in previous press briefings. The ones that are coming down a track and have to be dealt with, we'll deal with. But as we have said for many, many weeks and months now, the United States has to be -- has to recognize that at this point in history, we do need to transform this institution. And we need to move it from an institution that was capable of dealing with a host of conventional problems in the world, armies, navies and air forces, to an institution that is perfectly capable of dealing with those, because they are important from a deterrent standpoint and the threats that exist, for example, in North Korea on the DMZ are very real.

And there is no question that Saddam Hussein has not suddenly turned into a benign leader of that country. He still has appetites to -- for Kuwait, for Saudi Arabia and for some others of his neighbors. And so we have to be vigilant and we have to be prepared to deal with those kinds of threats.

But we simply must recognize that there are asymmetrical threats that are much more advantageous to most of those potential threat -- individuals or organizations or entities or states that would try to threaten the United States. And by that, I mean terrorism and cruise missiles and ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. They are the capabilities of choice for nations that know that it's not in their interest to try to fashion armies and navies and air forces to compete and contest with Western countries.

And that means that the funds you're talking about, that are coming into the defense establishment, need to be focused in ways that enable this institution to improve our intelligence, to see that we have arranged it in a way that we can track people who previously had been of less interest because they seemed to be of less immediate threat -- although we have tracked these. I don't mean to suggest we've not been tracking the al Qaeda network, because indeed the intelligence community has and has done a good job. But we have to see that those funds go in in a way that we're able to live in this 20th -- 21st century and go about our lives in freedom.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, as you know, the QDR is due to Congress in a matter of days, and since this document is supposed to define the mission and the shape of the military, I'm wondering how confident you are that this document prepares us for what we are about to be engaged in. And secondly, very quickly, you've talked a great deal over the past year about the asymmetric threat.

Rumsfeld: Wait a second. Wait a second. Let's do them one at a time, you folks. You're going -- I'm going to have to start making notes if you're going to have three- and four-part questions.

On the QDR, I spent an enormous amount of time on it. In retrospect, the work that was done on that and the defense planning guidance as well as the fiscal guidance, interestingly -- and I would say fortuitously -- while not prescient, at least addressed the problems of homeland defense and the problems of asymmetrical threats rather well.

Now, the truth has a certain virtue; I have not read the Quadrennial Defense Review as yet. It's been on my desk for about a week and a half, and I'll have to get to it. But knowing what it was the last time I looked at it, prior to September 11th, I suspect that I will find it close. We'll make some tweaks, talk to some people about any remaining issues that have been worked out among people who had different views, and that we will in fact send up what we will consider the Quadrennial Defense Review roughly the way I've indicated previously, with a couple of big pieces that may take six, eight, 10, 12 months, particularly in the personnel area, and a piece in the Guard and Reserve, which is something that merits a great deal of thought and attention by itself.

And I think we'll probably come back to Congress later, next year sometime, with more thoughtful pieces that address those issues, and possibly one or two more.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, a report from Moscow today quotes -- from the Interfax News Agency, quotes your counterpart, Defense Minister Sergey, as saying that Tajikistan will offer the airport in its capital city for possible strikes. The direct quote is -- from Ivanov is, "Dushanbe airport may be offered to the U.S. Air Force to carry out a retaliation strike, if the need arises."

How significant is that? And have you been in discussions with Ivanov about other Russian support for U.S. military operations?

Rumsfeld: The United States has in fact been in touch with Russia on a number of occasions with respect to a number of aspects of this, as well as any number of other countries. And as I have said earlier, my strong instinct is to allow other countries to characterize their assistance, and rather than for us trying to interpret it and then have a word or two different and cause a political problem in their country. So I'm going to let them speak for themselves.

But the answer is yes, we are discussing things with Russia, as well as any number of other countries in that part of the world and elsewhere.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you have -- going back to your D-Day issue, is that a way of warning the American people, don't expect initially a massive military strike at first? And also, the name, Enduring Freedom, is that going to be an endurance test for their patience?

Rumsfeld: I don't know that I was trying to really be subtle or warn the American people about anything other than the truth, and the truth is that this is a broad, sustained, multifaceted effort that is notably, distinctively different from prior efforts. It is by its very nature something that cannot be dealt with by some sort of a massive attack or invasion. It is a much more subtle, nuanced, difficult, shadowy set of problems.

Now, you did the same thing to me. What was the other part of it? (Laughter.)

Q: Enduring -- enduring --

Rumsfeld: Oh, sure. Yes. I think the answer is yes. Enduring suggests that this is not a quick fix. It's not something that all of us who like to have things immediately over and -- it isn't that way. It is not going to be over in five minutes or five months. It will take years, I suspect. And I have no -- I mean, listen, never -- in my view, you never bet against the American people. They've got -- I think that they will have the patience and they will recognize the importance of it, and that we'll find that over time, other countries will also be able to demonstrate a purposefulness that one might say tends to be not a characteristic of people. People -- we all tend to think we have relatively short concentration spans.

But I suspect with a problem this severe -- and it is very severe, it is a very serious problem, given the power of weapons today and the degree of proliferation that exists in this world -- let there be no doubt, this is a very serious matter.

Q: Mr. Secretary, sort of following up on this thought. You take every chance you get to talk about the fact that this is very long-range in nature. But let's talk short-range for a moment. And I'm sure you would agree there is a discernible desire in the United States for some sort of retaliation now, some sort of military revenge, if I may say so. What can you say to those people who might get impatient for that?

Rumsfeld: The truth. And the truth is, this is not about revenge, it's not about retaliation. This is about self-defense. The United States of America knows that the only way we can defend against terrorism is by taking the fight to the terrorists. And they do not sit in a big country with big buildings and big armies and big navies and big air forces. They live in shadows, they're all across the globe, they're in dozens and dozens and dozens of countries, and they're getting help from an awful lot of people who ought not to be helping them. And that is what we have to go do.

Q: Sir, if I may follow up. There was an attack on the United States by an organization that we are repeatedly being told has now been quite clearly identified. Will there be some sort of retaliation against that attack?

Rumsfeld: I would say that the United States fully intends to defend itself by going after the people who engaged in the terrorist attacks on the United States of America, and on other terrorist organizations that have been involved in other acts of that type.

Q: Mr. Secretary, over the weekend, after the Taliban said that Osama bin Laden had turned up missing, you said publicly that you dismissed that and said the Taliban knows exactly where he is. How can you be so certain of that?

Rumsfeld: Deduction. If a country opens their arms to an organization, allows them to come in, creates a very hospitable environment for them, permits them to move among their people, bringing things in, bringing things out, forging passports, buying things, selling things, doing what they wish, holding press conferences, and if the Taliban knows their country as well as I know they know their country, you'd have to believe in the Tooth Fairy to think they don't know where he is.

Yes?

Q: Sir, is it correct that yesterday, you terminated efforts by the administration to start an information operations campaign related to this? And can you assure that there is no information operations campaign targeted at the news media?

Rumsfeld: Well, you can be certain there is no campaign targeted at the news media. If that's --

Q: Did you terminate an effort? Did you do that yesterday?

Rumsfeld: I had a meeting on the subject. And I was my normal self. I offered a few opinions about things. But no, I think that would be a misunderstanding of what took place. And there is no question but that the United States is, as you know, giving a great deal of thought to handling public affairs with respect to this. It has to be handled not just here but across the government. I have a proposal from Torie Clarke that I've looked over this morning for the first time, that I know is a result of a series of discussions she's had with you and with other people from outside the government who are in the media and who think about these things, and I suspect we'll have that available soon.

But what we do have to do as a government, needless to say, is make conscious decisions about what we say and what we don't say. And one of the things that it strikes me has always been a hallmark of the United States is the effort to achieve a reasonable degree of care in fashioning declaratory policy. And that means, what it is you say publicly that is designed to best characterize what it is you're about and what it is you'll accept and what it is you won't accept, and what it is you might do and what it is you might not do. And so thinking that through clearly is something that I am engaged in, as is the rest of the government.

Q: Mr. Secretary, if I could just follow up, will there be any circumstances, as you prosecute this campaign, in which anyone in the Department of Defense will be authorized to lie to the news media in order to increase the chances of success of a military operation or gain some other advantage over your adversaries?

Rumsfeld: Of course, this conjures up Winston Churchill's famous phrase when he said -- don't quote me on this, okay? I don't want to be quoted on this, so don't quote me. He said sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies -- talking about the invasion date and the invasion location. And indeed, they engaged not just in not talking about the date of the Normandy invasion or the location, whether it was to be Normandy Beach or just north off of Belgium, they actually engaged in a plan to confuse the Germans as to where it would happen. And they had a fake army under General Patton and one thing and another thing. That is a piece of history, and I bring it up just for the sake of background.

The answer to your question is, no, I cannot imagine a situation. I don't recall that I've ever lied to the press, I don't intend to, and it seems to me that there will not be reason for it. There are dozens of ways to avoid having to put yourself in a position where you're lying. And I don't do it. And Torie won't do it. And Admiral Quigley won't do it.

Q: That goes for everybody in the Department of Defense?

Rumsfeld: You've got to be kidding. (Laughter.)

Q: Well, no, I'm just asking.

Rumsfeld: Everybody in the Department of Defense. My golly. I don't even know everybody in the Department of Defense! (Laughter.)

Q: I'm just asking what the policy is. I'm not asking whether everybody's going to follow the policy.

Rumsfeld: The policy is that we will not say a word about anything that will compromise sources or methods. We will not say a word that will in any way endanger anyone's life by discussing operations. And anyone that does talk to any of you about that is breaking federal criminal law and should be in jail. And we won't do it.

Q: But when they do talk --

Rumsfeld: Responsible people won't do it. People who know anything won't do it. But that's a very different thing from coming out and actively telling a lie. That is not going to happen by this individual or by people who are representing me at this podium.

Q: Even if it would help you in the psychological operations?

Rumsfeld: I have already said that there are plenty of ways of avoiding being in that position. And I -- all I can say is -- I suppose you never say never, but all I can say is I cannot imagine a situation where we would be so unskillful that we would be in a position that we would have to do that to protect lives. And my fervent hope is that we will be able to manage our affairs in a way that that will never happen. And I am 69 years old, and I don't believe it's ever happened that I've lied to the press, and I don't intend to start now.

Q: Given that verbal scenario that you set out in the beginning about this is an extended campaign, do you foresee any possibility in this extended campaign that you'll have to go back to the draft, number one? And what do you see as your biggest single challenge in carrying out the blueprint you just sketched out?

Rumsfeld: Everyone's got a two-part question. (Laughter.)

Q: What nerve!

Rumsfeld: Totally unrelated. Totally unrelated.

Q: I usually have three or four, but I'm being kind to you today.

Rumsfeld: I think I'm going to start answering one question per person, and I'll take the draft.

That is not something that we've addressed, and it is not something that is immediately before us. There's no question but that we may have to make additional call-ups under the emergency authority. The numbers of demands that are being made on the department are continuing, and there are a lot of them. But as those things happen, we will certainly announce them. And I, at the moment, don't foresee a need to do that.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, in about a month, the Pentagon is going to award the biggest military contract in history -- the JSF. There's some concern now that the winner -- among members of -- some members of Congress that the current winner-take-all strategy would lead to a weakening of the industrial defense base in a way that in a few years you might only have one company building jet -- able to build jet fighters. And so those people are saying there ought to be some rethinking now in the current security environment of that winner-take-all strategy. Does that make any sense to you?

Rumsfeld: I have not addressed that issue. And I'm sure that those kinds of considerations will be taken into account by Pete Aldridge and others who will be addressing it and making recommendations.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, I want to take you back to the QDR a second. The latest draft does talk about retaining forces to deal with two overlapping conflicts and deal with small-scale contingencies. Does the long, drawn-out campaign we're about to embark on qualify as a major conflict or as one of the small contingencies that the U.S. will have to live with as you stay positioned for these other major conflicts?

Rumsfeld: That's a very good question, and I am afraid the answer is, only time will tell. It is something that clearly we are thinking about. And if you'll recall, the strategy addressed homeland defense; it addressed the subject of forward deployment and deterrence; and it, as you correctly point out, used a force-sizing construct of two major regional conflicts, one of which would be won decisively and have the capability of going to capital, and another of which would be swiftly defeated, but not with the extra forces to go to capital simultaneously, and some lesser contingencies.

Until we see how this unfolds and get a good sense of its demands on manpower, it's not possible to know whether it fits in a lesser contingency or something somewhat larger than that.

Q: Are you concerned it's going to have major resource implications for the '03 and '04 budgets?

Rumsfeld: Oh, there's no question but that it will have implications. I mean, think of the things we have already rearranged and had to do.

Last question.

Q: Mr. Secretary, even in wartime, traditionally, the services, when they deploy individuals, give them some sort of schedules and let their families know that at some point in some matter of months, you can expect to have your loved one come home. The nature of this war, is that going to be something that you can no longer do, that when folks deploy, you can't tell them when they might be coming home?

Rumsfeld: Well, we're going to have to treat people properly. If we're going to be able to attract and retain the people we need on active duty and the Guard and the Reserves, we obviously are going to have to manage their roles with respect to the Department of Defense in a way that is rational from their standpoint. And on the other hand, you correctly point out, because as this thing unfolds, it is not clear its length, its location, the particularized capabilities that we need to draw. A lot of it very likely in the Guard and Reserve will be homeland-defense oriented, and that's not a new role, obviously. That's something we all understand. But in addition, there's no question but that Guard and Reserves [forces will] end up serving overseas, as they do now. And we'll just have to work things through for individuals and groups of individuals as we go forward in ways that fit their lives and enable us to continue to attract and retain the people we need.

Thank you very much.

Q: Secretary, your deputy just arrived with some urgency. Does he have anything to share with us? (Laughter.)

Q: Yeah, is there news?

Q: (Inaudible.)

Q: Oh.

Q: Mr. Secretary.

Rumsfeld: He's getting ready to go to Brussels for the NATO meeting, and my guess is we're going to have a few words before he charges over there. (Laughter.)

Q: Mr. Secretary.

(Cross talk.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, will he provide evidence to the NATO allies about the guilt of Osama bin Laden?

Rumsfeld: That's what he's going to brief me on right now.

Q: Thank you.

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