Monday, November 8, 2004 2:02 p.m. EST
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. It's good to see you all in this calmer post-election environment.
When he took office, President Bush was determined to reform America's military capabilities and to prepare for the emerging threats of the 21st century. Warning even before September 11th of 2001 of a world of terror and missiles and madmen, the president determined that the American people would be best served by transforming the military to meet the new challenges of an unpredictable age.
When I arrived back at the Pentagon some four years ago, he asked me to undertake an overhaul of the department's assumptions and organization and strategies. We've now spent nearly four years doing so, and we've made considerable progress, but there's much to be done.
I think it's appropriate, however, to take stock. In the past four years, we've made strides in reorganizing the military forces for a post-Cold War world. When the administration took office, our forces were more or less organized, trained and equipped in a manner appropriate to the Cold War, ready to face large armies, navies and air forces from somewhat static positions. Many of the combat support, logistical and administrative capabilities that are essential to conducting a war and to sustaining a presence in a post-hostilities environment were in the Reserve components. That required the extensive mobilization of Reservists and Guardsmen for nearly every military activity, large and small.
Over the last several years, we've worked to make the military a more agile, efficient and expeditionary force. We're increasing the size of the U.S. Army, up by 30,000 troops, from -- and also from -- going from 33 to 43 or possibly 48 brigades, while we're reorganizing those brigades to be lighter, more readily deployable and more self- sufficient.
We're well along in rebalancing and restructuring the active and reserve components to create a deeper pool of troops in high-demand skill specialities, such as military police and civil affairs. There's a good deal more to be done. We have under way some 25 or 30 other initiatives that are designed to relieve the stress on the force. The forces are transforming the way they fight as well. Unlike the manner in which U.S. forces fought in many earlier conflicts, where the Navy and Air Force aircraft deconflicted, for example, U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were truly joint and combined-up activities. Special Forces and the capabilities of each service meshed to provide the warfighting commanders with capabilities that led to quick, decisive victories with reduced U.S. coalition and civilian casualties.
The focus today is on speed, it's on precision, it's on mobility, stealth, and networked forces. And we're continuing to improve capabilities in those areas.
We're also improving the way we develop and maintain our war plans and our contingency plans. They have to be working documents with regular reviews by commanders and by the department, rather than plans that are developed in exhaustive detail and then put on a shelf to get stale.
It's been a growing practice for managers in the department to assign readily available and manageable uniform personnel to tasks that could be performed by civilians. The bureaucratic structure and red tape that existed made it difficult for managers to hire, assign, and reassign the civilian talent in the department. We're beginning to change that. The Congress passed the president's new National Security Personnel System, which allows us to design a 21st-century human resources management system. Through application of the new legislation, tens of thousands of office jobs currently held by uniformed military are being considered for conversion to civilian positions, returning those needed military billets to the war-fighting force and to the needed new capability.
Four years ago, the president asked me to review the stationing of our armed forces around the world. We were positioned abroad more or less as dictated by their final positions from World War II and the Korean War. The Republic of Korea is, of course, no long an impoverished nation ravaged by war, and Germany no longer fears an invasion across the central European plain by Soviet forces. Our global posture needed to be arranged to fit the new century, and we're well into that task. Working closely with Congress and our allies, old and new, we're repositioning our forces in ways that will help us better prosecute new kinds of conflicts that can require rapid deployment anywhere in the world.
As these many changes are taking place, and there are a great many changes taking place, the men and women in uniform of course are continuing to prosecute the global war against extremists, helping the Afghans and the Iraqis bring peace to their newly liberated countries, breaking up terrorist cells and thwarting planned attacks. Through it all, the men and women who have dedicated their lives to contributing to our country's defense have persevered and they've done their jobs.
I don't know if there's -- I'm trying to think -- has there ever been a war over a sustained period of time in the modern era of 24- hour news and seven-days-a-week during a presidential campaign? I don't think so. And it's a somewhat new experience for everyone. The troops undoubtedly, and their families, saw all of this taking place, heard it and, God bless them, went about their business doing a superb job for our country, and today they continue their important work. They deserve our country's thanks, and they certainly have mine.
A word on the situation in Fallujah. The people of Iraq have been making progress towards building a society to be free of terror and tyranny. It's not easy. There are clearly very dangerous elements in Iraq who seek to impose rule by the terrorists and by the dictator. They've undertaken every effort to try to extinguish the progress and to intimidate the Iraqi people and the coalition forces.
If Iraq is to be free and a peaceful society, one part of the country cannot remain under the rule of assassins, terrorists and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime. Every effort has been made to persuade the criminals running roughshod over Fallujah to reach a political solution, but they've chosen the path of violence instead. So at the request of the interim Iraqi government, coalition soldiers are today assisting Iraqi forces in conducting coordinated offensive operations in and around the city of Fallujah to restore law and order to this troubled area.
As we've recently seen in An Najaf and Samarra and Tall Afar, Iraqi security forces, supported by the coalition and by the Iraqi people, are committed to returning stability and removing the threat of terrorism and insurgency from Iraq.
This is an important time in the history of a new Iraq. No government can allow terrorists and foreign fighters to use its soil to attack its people and to attack its government, and to intimidate the Iraqi people. Success in Fallujah will deal a blow to the terrorists in the country, and should move Iraq further away from a future of violence to one of freedom and opportunity for the Iraqi people.
GEN. MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And good afternoon. I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families of our forces who have lost their lives in the last several days -- for that matter, throughout the course of this war on terrorism.
Our forces are making a big difference in this world. I believe over time, people will reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave American service members and remark about how they changed the course of history and changed it for the better.
Just one month ago, Afghanistan held its first direct presidential election. I commend the Afghan National Army, NATO, and coalition forces who played an important role ensuring a safe and secure environment for this historic event to occur. Improvements in infrastructure continue to make valuable contributions in Afghanistan. Of particular note, we're in the process of developing a national governmental infrastructure; 18 of 27 planned government centers are under development. Twelve new health care clinics opened recently, and another 180 are either being constructed or refurbished. More than 4 million Afghan children have been vaccinated against polio and the measles. Additionally, more than 21,000 former Afghan militia forces have participated in the DDR program, that is the Disarm, Demobilize and Reintegration program, which offers training and jobs so they become contributing members of the Afghan society.
The increased confidence of the Afghan people in their government and economy is further evident in their stable and strengthening currency.
And we're certainly helping with the interim Iraqi government work toward these same goals in Iraq as well. For every bomb that goes off, there are many more that are found and defused. For every building that is damaged or destroyed, there are many more being built or refurbished, including schools, clinics and hospitals. Democracy is growing in Iraq, and right now Iraqis are represented in hundreds of municipal governments, neighborhood councils and community action groups.
You just heard the secretary talk about the purpose of securing Fallujah as the interim Iraqi government paves the way for January elections. And you just received the details from a briefing on Fallujah by General Casey. So I will only add that we indeed have the best equipped and trained forces in the world. We will be successful not only in Fallujah but on this war on terrorism. And we're going to be successful because our forces have the will and because the troops out there that are sacrificing every day have the resolve.
With that, we'll take your questions.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie?
Q Mr. Secretary, you said that much still needs to be done here at the Pentagon. And as, I guess, the chief architect and champion of transformation, there has been a lot of speculation about your future here. And realizing that you serve at the pleasure of the president, sir, I wonder if you hope and plan to stay on here at the Pentagon and move transformation further down the road and see the Iraq problem through. Would you plan to stay on, sir, for at least a year, say? Or do you hope to stay on?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie. (Laughter.) The president has spoken on this issue. He went to Camp David. He's thinking about his administration for the future. I've met with him two or three times on totally different subjects since the election, but that's not a subject that's come up. And needless to say, either one of us would discuss it with the other before discussing it with you. (Laughter.)
Q Well, would you -- you said --
SEC. RUMSFELD: As much respect as we have for you.
Q You said much needs to be done. Would you hope to continue to work on transformation as --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've responded to that question.
Q Mr. Secretary?
Q Mr. Secretary, can I do a follow-up on that, please?
Q Mr. Secretary, you mentioned that success in this operation in Fallujah will deal a blow to the terrorists, I believe is how you put it. How do you define success in this case? And is this actually a final showdown with the insurgents?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I wouldn't use the word "final." I think this is a -- if you think of what the terrorists and the extremists will lose when Iraq is in fact a free, functioning, stabilized country providing for their own security and respectful of all the people in that country, it's pretty clear that the extremists would lose a great deal. And I think they're quite determined to not have that happen. So suggesting anything is final -- I think it's a tough business and I think it's going to take time. And I wouldn't want to suggest that this one city -- it's important and it needs to be done and you obviously can't have terrorist havens, save havens, in a country and expect the government to be able to function as a government must. But I think that it wouldn't be for me to suggest when the last step in this process -- I think it's something that's been going on for a period now. It's going to be going on for a period ahead. And over time you'll find that the process of tipping will take place; that more and more of the Iraqis will be angry about the fact that their innocent people are being killed by the extremists, saw a number of them from outside the country, and they won't like it. And that they'll want elections, and the more they see the extremists acting against that possibility of elections, I think that they'll turn on those people.
Q Mr. Secretary, could I -- before I ask a question, may I just do a brief prelude, in a sense; a follow-up to Charlie at --
SEC. RUMSFELD: You don't want to waste a question following up with Charlie. (Chuckles, laughter.)
Q Well, you know, then I certainly won't, sir, because I would never think of asking what the president asked all of us at the end of his news conference last week: those of us who plan to stay, raise their hand. I was just wondering if you wanted to raise your hand.
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)
Q But we understand that there may be as many as 15 cities where the insurgents have taken either partial or total control. Of course, Fallujah we're told is the epicenter. What happens over the next period after Fallujah is secured, and fairly shortly you would hope? Does the U.S. plan to move on; say, Samarra, Ramadi, and the other 12 cities?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, let me put it this way. If the -- first of all, these judgments and decisions, the basic decision is being made by the Iraqi government. They then discuss it with the coalition forces, and if we agree we assist in ways we can assist. So the answer should come from the Iraqi government to a question like that.
Second, even if we were planning to go to the cities you mentioned, we wouldn't talk about it.
Third, the -- it seems to me that I've already answered the question. I've said that a country, to be successful, simply cannot allow there to be safe havens for people who are determined to kill innocent Iraqis and to bring down the government and to try to intimidate public officials and police chiefs and ministers and deputy ministers. You can't allow that in a country. That has to be stopped.
Q Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, go ahead.
GEN. MYERS: I have a -- let me just -- point of clarification. I've never heard it said by anybody, and nor do I believe it to be true, that there are 15 cities that are under some form of insurgent control. That's just simply not true. There are 16 cities in Iraq which, if you add the population all up, accounts to over 70 percent of the population, that are in important in terms of any strategy that the Iraqi government has for elections and security and stability going forward. So that number's -- that number of cities has been out there, but not in the sense that they're insurgents -- fact -- many of those cities are under Iraqi governmental control.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Indeed, to reverse the way you cast it, the Iraqi government and the coalition military leadership characterized the situation in the country as having something like 14 or 15 provinces, out of 18, that have relatively low levels, very low levels, of violence, and only three or four that have relatively high levels of violence, one of them being Baghdad, where a high proportion of all of it takes place.
Q Mr. Secretary, General Casey acknowledged about an hour ago that some of the Iraqi army troops did not show up for battle. In other words, they -- according to one NPR embedded reporter, most of a battalion of 500 disappeared over the past week. What does this tell us about the future of Iraq if these troops are going to be defending the country? And is this a significant problem or an isolated problem there?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I would characterize it as an isolated problem. They did well in Najaf. They did well in Samarra. They did well in the peninsula yesterday. And there have been instances where they have not done so well. So I -- it seems to me that that's not surprising.
You know, the easy thing to do is to recruit people and equip people and train them. Those are all things that you can develop a metric on and track, and you can see what's happening.
The hard stuff is developing noncommissioned officers and junior officers and senior leadership and key officials in the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. Those are the soft things that you don't have metrics for. How good is morale? How good is leadership? And that's a problem. It's a problem with any new unit. It's a problem with any units that have a mixture of people who haven't worked together intimately and haven't developed the kind of confidence you develop over time.
So I think what one ought to expect that from time to time we're going to see this type of thing. And on the other hand, there have been some commando units and some riot control elements and some regular Iraqi forces and police forces that have done a very good job. (Cross talk.)
(To General Myers.) You want to comment on that?
GEN. MYERS: What -- no, I would only say that he also -- as I recall, General Casey also said there might have been some just purely administrative reasons why that might have happened, as well. So that'll all be looked into.
But I agree exactly with the secretary that the harder things to do are to get the leadership in place that causes people to form (sic) the way they do, and that's being worked on. (Cross talk.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Pam?
Q Mr. Secretary, last April in the battle for Fallujah, the U.S. decided, I think in part back here in Washington, to pull out, to end the battle before it was done, for a myriad of reasons. Not least among those was civilian casualties in Fallujah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's not clear to me that that's correct.
Q Well, General Conway said that. In the time that I spent there in the summer, that was certainly the impression that they had over there, that --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, each person saw their own little slice of that. But --
Q Sure. But there was a political decision made. In any event, you didn't finish Fallujah in April. I think we can agree on that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm.
Q Do you have -- can you make some statement here that there's not going to be anything stopping this battle from going through to a clear and final victory, or is there still some sort of room for it to stop once again without being completed?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I cannot imagine that.
Q You can't imagine what?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I cannot imagine that it would stop without being completed.
Going back to the first comment, my slice of what took place there, just to correct the record --
Q (Off mike) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, there's a great -- there are a lot of myths that have been flying around, and because we were asked not to get involved in the campaign, they seemed to have become reinforced and perpetuating, and that's unfortunate.
But in that instance, my slice of it was that there were Jerry Bremer and the military leadership on the ground in Baghdad -- which is not where General Conway was, if I'm not mistaken; he was up near Fallujah --
GEN. MYERS: Correct.
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- were wrestling with some very complicated problems. And they ended up weighing them all and making the judgment that was made. One of the complexities was that the -- a number of the Iraqi Governing Council at that time had indicated they might resign. A second complexity was the fact that -- I think it was Brahimi who was there for the U.N. and was arguing vociferously against it. I could be wrong about that.
And there was that dynamic of no leadership -- no prime minister, if you will, who could make a decision that a 25-person committee of the Governing Council interacting with the United Nations' representative, which they were trying to encourage to help set up the government we now have, which they have since successfully gone ahead and done -- and it was that set of dynamics that led to that.
Is that roughly your recollection?
GEN. MYERS: That's exactly my recollection. And additionally, there was hope that the negotiation with the leadership of Fallujah, the tribal leaders in the area -- and this Fallujah Brigade to bring stability to Fallujah and cause the insurgents that were using that as a safe haven to leave. And as we know, that never worked out. That has not worked out to this day. And so I think that's what the Iraqi interim government was weighing here in the last month or so as they -- in fact, the last several months, as they tackled this issue of Fallujah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: But from where Mr. Conway -- General Conway was sitting, it may very well have looked like exactly as he said. But in life, one learns eventually that you only see your slice, and unless you can talk to everybody involved in a puzzle, you won't know quite why things happen the way they happen.
Q Your bottom line is it's going to be finished and --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Absolutely. No question.
Q Does that mean you will capture Zarqawi in this instance, or you're hoping to?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have no idea if he's there.
Q Have you -- since it's begun, have you captured any of the terrorists that --
SEC. RUMSFELD: It just started. My goodness. Isn't that a little premature?
Q General Myers, on that?
Q Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm told that some people have been captured. But -- four or five foreigners were captured?
GEN. MYERS: Yeah, four foreigners in the --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yesterday in the movement up the peninsula towards the hospital. But it's a little premature for that kind of a question.
Q Mr. Secretary?
Q Mr. Secretary, isn't the decision of whether or not this will be carried through not really in your hands, not in President Bush's hands, it's in President Allawi's hands? I mean, he has more power over determining whether or not this will be followed through to completion than anybody in this room or in this city does, doesn't he?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me put it this way. The subject was discussed extensively, and I detected no debate about whether or not it would be finished. Indeed, I would say there was a good deal of discussion about the fact it isn't a matter of two decisions here -- one to start, and second, when you stop; the decision to go included the decision to finish and to finish together. So I think what I said is probably accurate.
And that does not make the way you phrased your question inaccurate, it just simply points out the fact that the prime minister has been involved in every aspect of this. And I can't speak for him, but I can certainly say that I would be amazed.
Q Mr. Secretary?
Q General Myers?
Q Mr. Secretary, there's an estimate that there may be as many as 100,000 Fallujah civilians still inside the city. If there were a large number of civilian casualties, is there a chance you could win the battle of Fallujah and lose the larger war of Iraqi public opinion and feed the insurgent propaganda machine?
SEC. RUMSFELD: There's no reason to get into hypothetical questions like that. There's nobody who knows how many people there are in there. And the U.S. forces -- I can speak for them, not for the Iraqi forces -- but the U.S. forces are disciplined, they are well led, they're well trained. They are using precision, and they have rules of engagement that are appropriate to an urban environment. And there aren't going to be large numbers of civilians killed, certainly not by U.S. forces. So why would I want to walk down that road?
(To General Myers) Do you want to comment on that?
GEN. MYERS: Do you want me to walk down that road?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No!
GEN. MYERS: (Laughs.) No, I --
Q Doesn't the very nature of urban warfare, however, certainly leave open the possibility that civilians will be engaged either voluntarily or not?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You've probably received this emergency law, and the curfew and all the instructions that have been put out to the civilian population. Innocent civilians in that city have all the guidance they need as to how they can avoid getting into trouble.
Q But isn't that the nature of guerrilla warfare, that the insurgents will blend in with the civilians and, therefore, make them potential targets?
GEN. MYERS: They may. And that may make it harder in certain circumstances. There are also indications that they want to fight in a more conventional way. So --
Q General Myers, following on that, General Casey said that 50 to 70 percent of the population had already left, and he conceded some number of terrorists may have left with them or may be going back and forth. Do you believe that the dead-enders, as the secretary has called them previously, will make a stand in Fallujah, or that there may be a problem with following terrorists from city to city throughout Iraq?
GEN. MYERS: I think time will tell. I think -- I know what our commanders think, and I'm going to leave that with them. And I think time will tell. As the secretary said, this will not be the last use of force in Iraq to rid Iraq of the former regime elements and the foreign fighters who do not want Iraq to be successful. So there will be other opportunities, maybe not as dramatic and as big as Fallujah, but there will be other opportunities.
But disrupting this what has been a major safe haven for former regime elements and foreign fighters, in particular Zarqawi and his folks, will be a significant event. And if they go to the places -- there are places that are second and third on their list. And so this is -- this will be -- have some effect towards that end. How much, we're going to have to wait and see and see what the troops do.
Q Do you think the terrorist leaders will stay? Not saying whether you think Zarqawi is there or not, but do you think there is a cell structure there that is prepared to fight U.S. forces?
GEN. MYERS: I think the most I'm fair to say is that -- well, time will tell. Some will probably stay, some probably will leave or have left.
Q Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q When you came into the office, you made a big speech about transformation. And since then --
SEC. RUMSFELD: On September 10th, 2001.
Q That was the right date, sir. (Laughter.) That would be it. Since then -- I know you've said that the only metric -- there's not one single metric to look at transformation, but only two major programs have been eliminated, the Crusader and the Comanche. Do you think that having a second go at it now that the president's back in office, do you think that that allows you to maybe go after more programs, in a sense, to get more money?
And secondly, Dov Zakheim said last February that he predicted about a $422 billion budget this year. Do you think you'll reach that high, or do you need more money?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not going to get into budget numbers. That's up to the president, what he decides in meetings with his Cabinet officers and ultimately presents to the Congress.
I think the thrust of your question attempts to equate canceling programs with transforming, and I think that's a mistake. I just don't think it's a -- it doesn't reflect what transforming really is about. Transforming is as much about culture and people. And furthermore, if you look at what's been done in the Navy, for example, you didn't mention a Navy program, and yet they have moved billions and billions and billions of dollars from the direction they were going in to different directions. And so, too, in other services. They may not show up as much as a specific weapon program might, but I think it's -- a great deal of programmatic redirection has taken place, but even more important than that have been the people that have been selected and the posts they've been put into and the existence of a senior-level review group and the intimacy that exists among the chiefs and the service secretaries and the undersecretaries and the chairmen and the vice chairmen and the way problems are getting addressed. The changes in how we do contingency war planning is just dramatically different. The Nuclear Posture Review is changing significantly the numbers of offensive strategic nuclear weapons by thousands of weapons.
Q Realizing that this is not simply, you know, a simple metric to use, are you saying that you --
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's not only not a simple one to use; it's an imperfect one.
Q Are you planning to go after any programs?
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's the question. (Laughter.) That's the question you really were getting it to, and I'll let you know when I get there. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. Secretary?
Q Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q I'd like to keep on this same train of thought here because I think there's probably a little bit of a perception out there that this --
SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a cul-de-sac you're going into. (Laughter.)
Q Are we going into a cul-de-sac? Well. This is sort of the final showdown with the insurgents, and I guess I would --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, on Fallujah. I thought you were talking about weapons programs.
Q Cancel all the programs you want, I don't really -- (laughter).
On Fallujah, well, this is sort of a final showdown. I think --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've answered that.
Q Well, you said you --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I would not think of it that way, and I think it would be a mistake for anyone. Listen, these folks are determined. These are killers. They chop people's heads off. They're getting money from around the world. They're getting recruits.
Q Right. What I'm getting at is you've told us you don't know if Zarqawi's there, you don't know exactly how many terrorists are still there, we don't even know how -- exactly how many civilians are there. I mean, can you give us any sense of, if this is -- are we going to see a number of Fallujah-type invasions, as they move city to city? Is that what you envision, or do you really think you could squelch a lot of the insurgency with this move today and this week?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We've answered that, but let me repeat it 'cause it's important. No one can know the answer to that question. As to -- we can know of certain knowledge is that you cannot have a country that is free and democratic and respectful of all the people in the country if you have safe havens for people who go around chopping people's heads off. You can't have a country if that's the case.
Therefore, the government and those assisting -- in this case, the coalition -- have to understand that. It doesn't take a genius to understand that. That means that to the extent people think that that is an option and try to do that, they will find it is not an option. The only option that exists for those folks is to decide that they have a stake in the future of that country and to become a part of the political process.
And when I use this phrase "tipping," people don't go from here over to there, they move this way, just a slight bit, and pretty soon the overwhelming majority are over in this area, recognizing that that's the future. The future's not a dark future of cutting people's heads off. The future's a bright picture -- future for them, where they can participate in it. They may not have exactly the same degree of control they had previously, because it won't be a dictatorship. Too bad. It's a different world.
Q But you've been talking about tipping for some time now, and I mean, the fact that we're still talking about it suggests that it hasn't really happened yet in --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it -- and it has not happened to the extent that, for example, it's happened in Afghanistan. Of course --
GEN. MYERS: It depends on the province, yeah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course it hadn't happened there either a year and a half ago. It has happened there now. Isn't that amazing? An amazing accomplishment in Afghanistan! A moderate Muslim leader has been elected president. People have voted. Women have voted. They put their lives at risk. It's an amazing accomplishment.
Now is that going to happen in Iraq? I think so. I think they've got a good crack at that. And when? I can't be sure.
I do know that the polls I've seen -- I don't know if they're accurate or not, because I don't know what the questions were, and I -- they were obviously in Arabic -- but the out- -- the results of these polls are suggesting that a tipping is taking place, not that it's a majority, or not that it's an overwhelming majority, but that it's up from where it was in terms of being angry at the insurgents who are killing innocent Iraqi (sic); being supportive of the coalition government, which is a new government, a different kind of a government than a 25-person Governing Council. So it's moving.
When will it hit the point where -- I mean, I don't know how many -- how many weeks or how many months? I just don't know. Nobody knows.
GEN. MYERS: I think what I --
Q (Off mike) --
GEN. MYERS: If I may just offer a couple other things, it is not just a security situation by itself.
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- right.
GEN. MYERS: While important, there are political developments that have to continue -- very difficult in a place that is controlled by the insurgents, like Fallujah and Ar Ramadi, to -- at least to a point -- most of Al Anbar province, matter of fact. And then there's an economic piece of this as well. So they all have to go -- as we've talked about before, they all have to go forward in a synchronized way, which is very, very important.
There is no -- if there were a silver bullet, we'd have shot that a long time ago. There is not a silver bullet. This is very challenging work. This new interim Iraqi government has shown great courage. They're working very hard to establish their own security forces, many of whom are working with us today, side by side, sharing -- probably spilling their blood with our blood as we try to make a way forward in Iraq that the majority of Iraqis want to have happen. So --
Q Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll make this the last question.
Q Mr. Secretary, you once said that if the elections in Iraq were less than perfect, so be it, I think were your words. How confident are you that when elections come in January, they'll be able to take place without a significant segment of the Iraqi population being left out of those elections?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think if you would take the comment I made that you reasonably quoted and stick it into context, you would find that I also said that every Iraqi has -- ought to have a chance to vote. And that's important.
Now, how will it be? I don't know. Do I think it will work? Yes. I do think it will work. I think we'll have an election. And I don't think it will be delayed, and I don't think it should be delayed. Anyone who looks at the degree to which the Iraqi people want elections, know that that has to be an important part of getting us towards this tipping -- where more of them feel they have a stake in it. And I think delaying elections would not help in moving that body politic towards a more peaceful and more directed movement towards the goals they seem to indicate they want, namely a democratic system.
Q But are you confident that this strategy is on track that will allow these elections to take place without a significant segment of the Iraqi population not being able to vote?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Certainly that's what we're trying to do. That's what this is all about. That's our intention. That's the goal. And we'll see how we do. Everyone said that it wouldn't work in Afghanistan. They've never done it in 500 years, and the Taliban are reorganizing; they're going to go in there and kill everybody. And we're in a quagmire. And lo and behold, Afghanistan had an election. Amazing.
Q Come back and see us.
SEC. RUMSFELD: All right. Good to see you all.
Q Mr. Secretary, could we ask that you would come down and see us more than every couple of months, sir, in the future? Seriously. It seems like you're
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie, I enjoy coming down and seeing you. (Laughter.)
Q Well, could you do it more often?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think so. You know, we really did want to have -- after sovereignty was passed, we really did want to have the Iraqi government step up and talk about Iraq, and that's been a good thing. And I -- therefore, we calmed down the U.S. presence in terms of public affairs in Iraq, as you'll recall, and we did here.
The second thing is the president asked Colin and me not to be involved in the campaign, and every single question would have been about the campaign. There wouldn't have been any way in the world to not become enmeshed in the campaign. I would have dearly loved to come down here during that period. (Laughter.) There are a few things I would have liked to have said. (Laughter.) But -- and --
Q Anything you want to get off your chest -- (laughter) --
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