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Secretary Rumsfeld In Transit Briefing on Global Posturing

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
August 15, 2004

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld In Transit Briefing on Global Posturing

      

            UNKNOWN:  The first 10 minutes are on the record.  If the Secretary wants to go off the record, then the cameras should go off.

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yeah. I don’t think I need to go off the record.   I’ve been, I guess, 3 ½-plus hours in here doing secure videos on various subjects in preparation for the events and  meetings and testimony that I have coming up this week.  One of them was with a large group about the work that’s going on with respect to proposals relating to the intelligence community.  And it looks as though I’ll be testifying on Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  And I’ve been working on testimony and the like. 

 

While I’ve been gone, the interagency process has been going forward and they’ve been having meetings to discuss not simply the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, but the broad subject of the intelligence community and ways that it might be strengthened to include, obviously, the various recommendations that have been made by the 9/11 Commission, but also things that have been taking place up on Capitol Hill in terms of the testimony by various people, the hearings and also things that are being written and private meetings that have been held with people who have backgrounds in this important subject. 

 

I have no idea what the timing would be for administration proposals, but it’s rather clear to me that we will not have them by the time I’m up there testifying on Tuesday.  The Senate committee wanted to go forward and I’ve been [inaudible] that they delay until we have a set of proposals.  But, therefore I assume that what I’ll be doing up there is not making any announcements at all, but rather simply discussing with them the various issues that are before the House and the Senate.  We’ve already talked about the first few stops, I guess.  And with respect to the meetings here in Russia, the many meetings that I had with the Minister of Defense of Russia Sergei Ivanov were another in a long series now over several years that we’ve had.  We have a broad set of issues that we talk about and deal with and that our staffs worked on between our meetings.  The relationship is a good one.  It’s one that has been evolving, understandably. 

 

And as you know, the president speaks with President Putin on a fairly regular basis.  I was surprised to have the minister of defense tell me that that was our 15th meeting, I think he said, which is … that’s quite a few.  But it is an important relationship and I would say a good relationship.  We had a lot of time.  We had meetings that were more formal with a large number of members of his staff and our staff.  We also had a lot of time.  We talked privately and as we went through the day-and-a-half period.  And I come away with a feeling that as I have almost every time we’ve had these meetings that it is a helpful thing to do and that as it happens, time after time now, the level of understanding and appreciation of the things they’re going through and on his part, the things we’re going through are very useful. 

 

I did have a good chance to talk to him about the global force posture discussions that we’ve been having internally in our government and, more recently, with our friends and allies around the world and with the – needless to say – with the Congress.  And I think that’s a good thing to do, so that there is a broad understanding it obviously, it doesn’t affect them directly as it does a number of countries where we have forces or where we may want to have new arrangements.  But they have an interest, needless to say, and so that was a good part of the discussion. 

 

With that, I’ll stop. 

 

Q:  How did he react toward your outline?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I don’t know that I want to characterize his reaction, [Inaudible].  It is our – the principle characteristics of our ideas – and I think that’s the best way to characterize them, because they aren’t specifics until you work them out with each country --  but the principle characteristics of all of them taken together are that we want greater usability of our forces, that we realize we will end up with more forces back in the United States, that we will be looking for flexibility in relationships so that we can locate forces in and have exercises with various countries and in no instance does it, in my view, in any way create a problem from the standpoint of Russia.  Go ahead.

 

Q:  Mr. Ivanov is saying, though, even about just more NATO jets in the Baltics as we understand in some of the early outlines of the global posture [inaudible] it does envision a greater cooperation and perhaps even part-time deployments in former Soviet Republics based around the region of instability in the global war against terrorism.  So if he’s concerned about just the Baltics, what do you think the global posture review [inaudible] his inclination also be of a concern to him?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t think so. And certainly not that I detect.  The sensitivity as I believe is the case from the standpoint of Russia is the areas north, which border their country.  And we have no plans for to do anything up in that area and in fact we would be reducing some forces from the northern part of Europe and the movement would go not towards the Baltics, it would go south and to the United States and elsewhere but, no, I don’t see it in use here at all.  But from up there was a question of NATO making the decision to provide their policing for all of the European countries.  And a location of some – I think it’s F-16s went into the Baltics and that is what he was discussing. 

 

And it seems to me, logically it’s appropriate when something like that happens that’s new that it's useful for neighboring countries to have understandings about how those things will be handled.  And we do that with Russia.  We do it with other nations and we have experience doing it with ships.  We have experience doing it with airplanes and I would suspect that over time, those issues will get worked out.  As he indicated, it’s a relatively small airspace.  And when you’re talking about jet aircraft, well you want to make sure you’re [inaudible] here and that’s true on both sides.  It’s true Russia needs to have an understanding of how that would work and so do the NATO aircraft. 

 

Q: [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We haven’t made any announcements yet.  Those are things we’re discussing and with the countries and with the Congress.  But there’ll be a shift from Germany and we’ve talked to the Germans about that and some numbers.  They’re doing the same thing. They’re also readjusting their forces and they understand that. 

 

There won’t be any big announcement on all of this, because if we have a preference to do “X” and our second, third and fourth choices are to do “Y” or “Z,” you don’t know what you’re going to do until you start talking to your first choice as to how you might like [inaudible].  Some countries, it’ll work out for "X."  Other countries will have alternatives and we’re flexible.  We want our forces where they’re wanted.  We want our forces where we have the right kinds of legal arrangements and SOFAs … our Status-of-Forces Agreements and the like.  So, pieces will be then announced as they are resolved and sorted through or discussed.  And then they will play out over a period of years, so there’s not going to be a big announcement of everything.  And then there certainly won’t be a big movement in everything.  But what will happen is all of the discussions will go forward and they’ll be announced as they’re finalized and then it could play out over four, five, six years. 

 

Q:  [Inaudible] do you anticipate in the former Soviet Republics [inaudible] will there be a plan?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We have not plans on a permanent basis in those areas.  And the Russian government understands fully the value and the logic of what we’ve been doing in our relationships with the former Soviet Republics with respect to the global war on terror and with respect to what’s going on in Afghanistan and Iraq.  And they’re a partner in the global war on terror and so there’s no issues in those types of things. 

 

Q:  [Inaudible] arrangements rather than [inaudible]?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We’re trying to find the right phraseology.  We know the word “base” is not right for what we do, except in places like a naval airbase and Norfolk is a base.  That’s a permanent installation … in San Diego and some place like that.  We understand that.  We have bases in Germany and we will continue to.  But we also have had things that we call “Forward Operating Locations” or sites that are not permanent bases, they’re not places where you have families, they are not places where you have large numbers of U.S. military on a permanent basis.  They’re places where you -- in some cases, they might be alternative landing sites for aircraft in difficulty – we have some of those in the former Soviet Republic.  There might be a Forward Operating Location, where you’d locate people in and out or where you use it for refueling, these types of things.  But it gives you the flexibility to, if you know where they are and you have those arrangements all set beforehand, it gives you flexibility to do a lot more.  And so those things are not intended to be [inaudible].

 

Q:  [Inaudible] asserted Russia’s right to intervene and it’s near [inaudible] and that could include, I suppose countries like Germany – not Germany, but like Georgia, and other former Soviet Republics.  At the same time the United States will be operating more and more in those countries as it shifts its importance.  Is that going to be a source of tension and will it have to be worked out with the Russians as you go along?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t want to agree with the premise.  I don’t know what you mean by more and more or those countries and it would be misleading if I were to respond to your question. And if you want to talk about Georgia, the United States supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and the Russian government has announced that they support the territorial integrity of Georgia and there are issues as the minister raised, as President Saakashvili raised when he was in the United States recently that need to be discussed between those governments and they are being discussed. So …. 

 

Q:  [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We talked about it.  I wouldn’t want to characterize that there was or wasn’t any progress.  I think if you’ve talked about three or four issues in respect to that and they know our position and they’re sensitive to it. The Iranian issues are issues basically that are being handled in the Department of State, not Defense and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], as you know.  What else? 

 

Q:  [Inaudible] Have you heard what is the latest [inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  Is it stopped or is it still going on?

 

Q:  [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  It’s still going on. All right. What’s the latest in Iraq?  I’ve gone over a bunch of  [inaudible] and intel pieces and they’re preparing for the Iraqi conference, which the prime ministers indicate is going to go forward.  I don’t know how many people have been invited, but it’s a large number and they’ll be – it’s unclear how many days it’ll last.  It could be one, two, three – I just don’t know.  It’s up to them what they do.  And so that’s one of the things going on in Iraq. 

 

Q:  What is your view of how [inaudible] and the Iraqi government handled the Commission’s [inaudible]?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:   15 what? 

 

Q:  [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  Insurgents?

 

Q:  [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t know the precise number.  It’s hard to know.  But if people in that country continue to attack the coalition forces and government officials and innocent people, there’ll be a response and they’ll be dealt with and it’s too bad, but that’s life. 

 

Q:  The level of security threats at the moment in terms of priorities I mean are Al Sadr and his supporters are they the most serious immediate threats or [inaudible]?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t want to pick favorites.  I think the way to think about it is that the people who are determined to prevent the Iraqi government from being successful are going to very logically continue to oppose it.  They’ll try to do things that prevent it from succeeding and the next step is this conference that’s coming up.  So the level of activity right now is very likely linked to trying to oppose that conference for example, and elections are coming up at a later stage in a period.  And my guess is we will see people trying to oppose them. We’ll also see people opposing those who oppose it. 

 

Q:  [Inaudible] The missile defense systems that’s going to be going operational soon.  I would guess that – I mean, is that something that you’ve discussed with the Russians and--

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We did talk about that – some aspects of it.  I don’t remember specifically mentioning the Alaska piece, and I don’t think we did.  But we talked about missile defense every time we’re together and it’s a subject that, as he said, neither one of us ruled out the possibility of cooperating in various ways. 

 

Q:  [Inaudible]

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  No.  I think the way to think about what’s happening in missile defense is that the treaty was ended. A variety of research activities that were not permitted under the treaty were initiated.  And they have been going forward and they have been providing useful information.  The test program has been going forward as well and that’s a good thing.  And it is has been, for the most part, successful in my view and failure is a learning experience, as it is in any kind of research activity.  And there is a tendency when someone sees a test that doesn’t work the way one would hope in every respect that it’s a failure, but it isn’t.  Each one of those as to how you learn to do this [inaudible].  It’s gone well.  We’ve learned a lot.  There -- have some limited radar and some limited interceptor capability that will be operational – and I shouldn’t use that word really – that’ll be functioning and will be in a operational mode where, if needed, but in a test mode.  It will be revolutionary and things will be added to it, the different software and different hardware and additional radars or additional interceptors and additional partners cooperating.  And we’ve been in discussions with three or four countries.  I think we’ve announced who they are and what’s been going on and … the countries announced it, not us.  But it’s an unusual situation because some people think that you’re either testing something in an R&D [research and development] mode or you have it operational and that is just simply not the case in this instance.  This is where you get something in the ground and maybe on the sea or maybe in the air and you then work with it and evolve it over a period of time and that’s what’s taking place.  And so one ought not to overstate it as to what its capability is.  And on the other hand, it’s better to have “X” number of interceptors and “X” numbers of radars in the event some rogue country decided to threaten or use a ballistic missile, there would be that limited capability if you had sufficient warning. 

 

Q:  Can you talk generally about the whole issue of weapons proliferation?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:   [Inaudible]

 

Q:  Is Russia potentially a significant actor in that?  Would you characterize?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  There are weapons, and there are weapons.  They’re clearly a country that sells weapons and that’s a legitimate business in this world of ours.  There are people who have legitimate reasons for wanting weapons.  On the other hand, there are weapons of mass destruction and there are terrorists states and there are people that, in the civilized world, doesn’t want to have access to those kinds of lethal capabilities nor do we want the highest technologies even non-WMD and maybe even non-lethal in the hands of people who aren’t part of a civilized world.  Take a Jammer, for example, a Jammer isn’t something that you fire at anybody, but you don’t want people having that technology if they’re operating terrorist networks.  It just isn’t a good idea. 

 

Q:  Surface-to-air missiles [Inaudible]?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:   [Inaudible].  Yeah, it’s a subject of ongoing interest to both of our countries.  It poses a danger in the world.

 

Q:  [Inaudible] lot of those [inaudible] out there are Russian [inaudible].  Did they indicate [inaudible] any [inaudible]?

 

SEC. RUMSFELD:  We’re having discussions on all of that – on the risks and how we might cooperate in those areas.