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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following Appearance on ABC

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 20, 2005
QUESTION:  Would you answer just a couple of questions?


            RUMSFELD:  Sure.


            QUESTION:  First of all, as Secretary of Defense do you see anything to the future of U.S. military bases and military [inaudible]?


            RUMSFELD:  There are always changes in life.  Of course as you're transforming a big institution like that, needs adjust and you make those calibrations.  One of the things that's happening that's important is we've had a review of our overseas basing and we in the process over the coming three, four, five, six years, we'll be bringing back something like 70,000 U.S. military from various countries around the world -- Europe and Asia -- and over 100,000 dependents.  So they will be filling up a number of bases in the United States.


            QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, we're two years into the war now.  How do you assess the situation on the ground and how much longer do you think it will be before the troops come home?


            RUMSFELD:  Well, the situation in Afghanistan has just made wonderful progress.  They have a new government, they assumed sovereignty over their country, the Taliban are gone, the al-Qaida are gone.  The people that killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th have been captured, killed or driven out of that country and it's on a path towards democracy.


            In Iraq, it's been two years since the beginning of the conflict.  The political situation is moving along well.  They had a successful election.  They just seated their Constituent Assembly.  They'll be drafting a constitution soon, then electing people under that new constitution.  The economic situation's improving in Iraq steadily.  The refugees are returning.  Hospitals and schools are open.  The stock market's open.  People are investing.


            The military situation has been improving as well.  The insurgency is still difficult.  People are still being attacked and killed by the Zarkawi network and the former regime elements  --  the Saddam Hussein elements.  But the Iraqi Security Forces now number some 145,000 and they're doing a good job of working with us to deal with the insurgency.  Our hope and expectation is that we will be able to continue to pass off more and more responsibility to the Iraqi Security Forces and the coalition at that point would be able to be adjusted and some of them redeployed.


            Thank you, folks.

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