(Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. John Keane, Acting Chief of Staff of the Army, interview with Vince Crawley, Army Times, and Gerry Gilmore, American Forces Press Service at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.)
Crawley: I understand that you got some good news today as far as your targeting with the Hussein family. And, I'd like to get your reaction to that, as well as what does that means to the mission (in Iraq). Does that make the troops' job a little easier, maybe?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's true, we've had good success. The 101st (Airborne Division) and Task Force 20 and the Special Operations folks did a very good job. And it was a residential area in Mosul. They tracked the folks and when it was over they killed four and captured some. And, it was a very well-defended facility. The two sons of Saddam Hussein were critical parts of his regime. They were individuals that had significant roles. Uday had the Fedayeen Saddam report to him; he was particularly brutal and vicious. The world is well rid of them.
Crawley: The question that's probably on most people's minds in the Army and the other services is, given that we appear to be in Iraq for the long haul, when are we going to learn about troop rotations? Can we shed some light on what some of the thinking is behind the rotations?
Rumsfeld: Jack and I have spent a lot of time on that in the last (few) weeks. Fire away.
Keane: Well, first of all, we recognize that the situation in Iraq with the current level of violence demands the force level that we currently have. And, with that recognition, we also want to build in some predictability for our soldiers who are there. So, as opposed to having it condition-based, which is what we did, we've decided to go to a 12-month tour for the forces that are currently in Iraq and for those that would come into Iraq - with some exceptions. Exceptions being the 3rd Infantry Division ... it's remaining brigades who would leave in September. That would mean one brigade would have 12 months and the other one would have nine. And, also, for the Marine division that's in place, which will leave when the Polish division takes its place, which will probably be about that timeframe. I mean, don't hold us to the exact week or month, but it will be in that timeframe. Everybody else will stay 12 months.
Crawley: Would that include follow on Marine forces?
Keane: Follow on forces will come; they'll be Army, as well as coalition. And they may be Marine, depending on the level of participation of our coalition forces.
Crawley: Because that's a departure from the Marines' traditional "bust down the doors" (mission).
Keane: We haven't made a commitment ... you're talking to the Army guy, not the Marine guy, but first of all, we haven't made a commitment for the Marines to be in those follow-on forces. It's contingent upon the level of participation of the coalition forces. Right now, we do think the coalition force participation will be sufficient.
Rumsfeld: We're interested in, obviously, to the extent we can, as Jack said, giving reasonable certainty, there's never perfect certainty in life, but reasonable certainty as to what expectations, logically, ought to be. We have a major effort to add to our force capacity there by bringing in coalition forces, and we've got 19 countries on the ground there; we've got another 19 that have committed to do various things, and we have another 11 that we're in discussions with. We also have a major effort to increase our total capability by significant incremental increases in the number of Iraqis involved, both police as well as army and defense forces. So, all of that is part of the picture. We also want to, needless to say to the extent that we can, we have to use reserve components, but where we have choices we're using active components. We've had discussions about stop losses. And, the various services are at varying ways managing that.
Keane: We're pretty much all off stop loss and the Army will be the last service to come off of it. And, we'll be doing that this month, but at the latest, the beginning of next (month). We only have 22 [inaudible] that are still on stop loss.
Crawley: There are a lot of discussions: are there are enough people in the Army for you to do the follow-on rotations?
Crawley: Is that going to include reserve call-ups?
Keane: There'll be some slight reserve call-up in that. There will be two (reserve) combat brigades that will be in it. There're not designated, yet. And there will also be some combat service support participation to replace those functions that are currently there. And, the details and the names of those units haven't been looked at ... but they will be.
Crawley: Is the announcement coming out tomorrow, is that going to ... [inaudible]?
Keane: It will get into detail on the combat formations, the divisions and the brigades, but it will not get into the companies and the battalions that are providing their logistics and theater-level support. That's just too much detail.
Rumsfeld: The other thing that is happening is the make up of the force and how they are equipped is obviously evolving, understandably, as major combat operations recede and the type of military activities that are taking place now; it calls for that kind of a shift. And, General (John) Abizaid discussed that with us when he was in town.
Gilmore: Gentlemen, this post was once a cavalry post and referring to transformation, you talked to some of these new generals. Did you discuss transformation at all with them, gentlemen, did you talk about how the military has changed in the last ...?
Rumsfeld: Since cavalry (days)?
Keane: We used it in Afghanistan!
Rumsfeld: We did. We did talk about it some. And, they're all, of course, enormously talented people who've kind of moved up through the ranks and they're interested. The Army has been in the process of transforming for a number of years and it's not something that starts and ends. It's a continuum in life; you don't go from an untransformed state to a transformed state. You change the culture and the mindset, and in some cases, the approaches and platforms. But, the Army is well along that path.
Gilmore: Would you say the Army is one of the leaders, sir, in transformation among the services?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't know that I want to pick favorites. I think that the Army certainly has been very much leaning forward and has taken a number of important steps. It's a different thing in the Navy, what takes place. They're taking important steps, as well. What they're doing with the air, the Marines, and the Navy, what they're doing by reducing the amount of people that it takes to man a ship. The kinds of things that they're doing there are important. Switching out some subs from nuclear (missiles) to conventional. So they're doing a lot of things, as well, as are the other services.
Gilmore: General Keane, I wanted to ask you a question, it's been asked before. We've got Strykers, new Stryker units. Are we going to deploy any of those to Iraq, do you think?
Keane: We're planning to, yes. We're going to make an announcement to that effect tomorrow. One of the follow on forces on the rotation will be a Stryker brigade. And if we continue to be in Iraq, we plan to bring others in as well, when they're available. We didn't put them together to sit at home station. We put them together to be operationally deployed. And that unit is ready, so we'll deploy them.
Gilmore: Where are they coming from, Washington?
Keane: That's correct: the state of Washington, (from) Fort Lewis.
Crawley: The big picture, worldwide troop stationing. This summer you're taking a hard look around the world ...
Rumsfeld: This summer! We've been looking for two-and-a-half years!
Crawley: Yeah, but you haven't done anything! All you've come up with is the poor guys in the Sinai. Lots of discussions about the two Army divisions in Germany; when do you expect to get some finality to their fate?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't know. We've had a lot of very fine work done (on force levels), particularly in Asia and in Europe. But, it's been done within an AOR (area of responsibility). And what we need to do is connect them all and look at the world. It was perfectly appropriate that each combatant commander would look at their circumstance and their AOR.
But, what we need to do is to now look at all those seams and say, gee, not what's the most logical thing to do within an AOR, but what's the most logical thing to do for the world among those various proposals. And that's what the senior level review group is going to be wrestling with in the weeks ahead. Then, of course, you've got the interaction with allies and friends and NATO and Korea, Japan and all of that. And then you have the discussions about what happens (then).
Sometimes people may be leaving one place and going to another place and you need to deal with that place they're going (to). So it is not like it's a simple thing that I can just some day divine it. First of all there's no one smart enough to think it all through by themselves. You need to get folks really looking at it from 360 degrees, because it's expensive - it costs money to do these things. It also affects relationships and we don't want to create any vacuums or weakening of any deterrents, which I can assure you we will not do.
But, we do have to take account of the fact that our capabilities are vastly more lethal today than they were when those (troop levels) were arranged. The world is totally different, not totally, but significantly different. Weapons were different; precision is different; reach is different. And, we need to get reset for the 21st century, and that's what we're going to do. It's a big task, we're moving about it seriously. And I feel very good about it. It will be an important accomplishment.
Crawley: [Inaudible] ...one would think you've had a nasty feud with the Army. Is part of this trip to perhaps to change the public perception?
Rumsfeld: I've always liked the Army. The things that get printed about that tend to be false. I've read repeatedly, dozens of times, that I announced (former Army Chief of Staff) General (Eric) Shinseki's replacement a-year-and-a-half in advance. That's just false. It's been repeated 50 times. I can't imagine why responsible journalists do it. But, if that gets repeated often enough people begin to believe that I did it, which I didn't. I read today coming out in one of the clips that I insulted somebody by announcing his retirement a year before he was due to go. Of course, he had a four-year term - everyone knew he was going at the end of four years.
And yet, the press today in one of the clippings said that. Now, I don't know what I can do about that. In fact, I don't worry about it much, because there's nothing I can do about it. If people are irresponsible and want to write this nonsense they can keep doing it. But the short answer to your question is: no, I'm doing my job. Jack Keane invited me to come out and I'm not chasing things like that. I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I do it every day.
Keane: Let me climb on to that answer. I've been working with the secretary now for two-plus years. And, unequivocally, the secretary does not have an issue with the Army. The secretary knows for a fact, because I've heard him say it many times, that this Army is the best Army in the world. And, just as he wants the best Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force in the world to remain that way, he wants the Army to stay that way. So, he's interested in Army transformation because he wants us to be ready for the future as he is in the other service transformations. There's no issue there. I think we work effectively as a team. People sure have made an issue out of it, though.
Gilmore: Afghanistan, Iraq - DoD utilized transformational ideas that (produced) a quick end of major hostilities, pretty much. In Iraq, did it surprise either of you gentlemen (that the major combat phase ended so quickly)?
Rumsfeld: Gosh, I can't speak for Jack, but both of us were involved in the planning for it to such an extent that we knew what the trade-offs were. We knew how important speed was. The absence of speed would have given opportunities for neighboring regimes to be destabilized, offered opportunities for Scud missiles to go into neighboring countries, that might have offered opportunities for flooding, or setting oil field on fire, any number of things. So, it was a conscious decision General (Tommy) Franks to use speed versus mass. And it worked - and it worked very well. I kind of was brought along so incrementally that I can't say I was surprised.
Keane: Well, first of all the plan was bold and brilliant. And, I think we're all very proud of what General Franks and his people did. And, when I say his people, I mean all the commanders and staff - they all played a role. It was a very iterative process. It's a fascinating process, frankly. One of you guys should do a whole story on that process some day.
The other thing, I think, is you have to recognize that we have been with this enemy for 12 years, so we knew the enemy. And, we also, what people look at when they look at mass they look at the rationalization of force against another person's force. And that's sort of a science and a technology answer, that rationalization. The art of war is to understand who you are and who your opponent is. And, the leaders who put that plan together knew that combat power is more than just that rationalization. And, it's also leadership, it's also the skill of your troops and the will of your soldiers and the sailors, airmen and Marines who were doing this fighting. And we knew that we had an overmatch in that. You won't find that written in the plan any place, but it's resident in the judgment and decisions (that) were made about how we're going to use the force. And, it's an important ingredient that helped produce this outcome.
Gilmore: You're saying ... our forces were ready to fight, ready to take it to the conclusion?
Keane: Sure, absolutely.