Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld on The Charlie Brennan Show, KMOX 1120, St. Louis, Mo.
BRENNAN: For an old Illinois boy, did you ever listen to KMOX Radio in a previous age?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Why sure.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You bet.
BRENNAN: Cardinal baseball or just what?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [Laughter]. I think mostly baseball.
BRENNAN: It’s good to have you back on our air waves. We appreciate you sneaking us into your busy schedule. Can you tell our listeners if there will be troops in Iraq a year from now?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well you know - those are decisions the President will make. I can say this; that the meeting we just have over in Iraq this last week with the new Iraqi government left us very encouraged. I also had a good deal of time with the folks we have working with the Iraqi security forces. They feel that the security forces are making excellent progress. There are now a quarter of a million of them. They’re headed towards 325,000. Every week we’re passing over additional responsibility to the Iraqi security forces - in terms of real estate, bases, assignments - and I feel very encouraged by it. Of course as they take on that responsibility we’re going to be able to reduce down our forces. Now to what levels, at what pace is a function of the conditions on the ground and the commanders will make those recommendations and the President will make the decisions.
BRENNAN: What about this report in the Tuesday New York Times, Mr. Secretary, that said that Iraqi forces were protesting by tearing off their uniforms when they learned they got assignments outside of their own provinces?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You know, I saw that and it was a relatively small number of people. It is inevitable that there are going to be things like that that happen.
If you think about it, the Iraqi security forces from the Ministry of Defense tend to be recruited nationally and used nationally. The security forces from the Ministry of Interior tend to be police and just as in our country, they tend to be recruited locally and used locally.
What that issue was, I’ve not seen any report on it, but it certainly isn’t anything of any significance.
BRENNAN: Over the weekend former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he warned you and General Franks in front of the President that we needed more troops. Last week we had General Bernard Trainor on the program and he’s written a book, Cobra II, that says there were many people in and around the Pentagon who warned you that we needed more troops for the Iraqi effort, but you apparently did not listen, they insist.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I don’t know the gentleman. The quote you gave, I’ve not seen the book so I can’t speak to it, but I can tell you this, that contrary to that the President of the United States sat with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a room and he pointed to each one and said have you been over the war plan? Do you have everything you need? Do you believe this is the plan that will be successful? And to a person they said yes. He did it with the combatant commanders. Then he did it with a secure video where he went to General Franks and to each of his sub-commanders, land, sea and air, and asked them specifically, do you have everything you need? Do you agree with this war plan and the numbers? And they did.
So the idea that there were many people suggesting to the contrary simply isn’t factually correct. The President conducted the proper due diligence. He talked to every person who had a military advisory responsibility, and he approved the plan that his combatant commander General Tom Franks recommended. Any suggestion to the contrary simply isn’t the case.
BRENNAN: But was that combatant plan sufficient for the post-combat phase four, the reconstruction phase of the country?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I suppose history will answer that question. It is a fact that our combatant commanders believe it is the right amount of people. I know it’s perfectly proper for people to think there should be more or less, and there are people on both sides of that argument and have been throughout this entire period because wars are ugly things, they’re tough things, and people debate them and argue about them. But the fact of the matter is that the military officials who have responsibility for making those recommendations have to a person from the beginning been given the forces and the capabilities and the equipment and the support that they have requested and felt they needed.
Now the fact that there’s some person who’s off to the side retired looking at it, doesn’t agree with that, is fair enough. Anyone can have an opinion. But the idea that for whatever reason either the President or I or anyone else intervened and suggested that it should be a certain number other than the combatant commander request is just utter nonsense. It just never happened.
BRENNAN: We’re told you have to go. We want to thank you very much for the time you shared with us today.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You bet. Good to talk to you.
BRENNAN: You too. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with us this morning on the Voice of St. Louis, KMOX.