LaPorte: Thank you.
I thought Wayne Newton walked into this hangar for a minute.
Listen, do we have any Marines here? [Cheers] How about any Navy folks? [Cheers] How about soldiers? Do we have any soldiers in the crowd? [Cheers] How about airmen? Have we got any airmen? [Cheers]
All right, the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the United States forces in Korea, we thank you for what you do each and every day. We thank the family members for the sacrifices that you make. We are so proud of you.
Secretary Rumsfeld came to Korea because he wanted to see what was happening on this peninsula and how important it is to Northeast Asia and the entire world. He’s a great supporter of our military. He’s served as both the youngest and the oldest Secretary of Defense. [Laughter}
Rumsfeld: That’s no great honor. [Laughter]
LaPorte: He’s a former Navy pilot, White House Chief of Staff for President Ford, Congressman from Illinois, former Ambassador to NATO, and former CEO of two Fortune 500 companies. I will tell you, we couldn’t have any better leadership leading our nation than this man right here.
How about a warm USFK welcome for our Secretary of Defense?
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. That is a very warm welcome. Thank you.
General LaPorte, thank you for those generous words. General Beasley, and all of you. Thank you so much for that very very warm welcome.
I wish all of you could have walked in yourselves and received a welcome like that because you deserve it. Let there be no doubt.
It is a real privilege for me to be with you. I feel fortunate to be able to meet with the ones that are doing so much to keep the peace in such an important part of the world on this peninsula, and in doing so you contribute to peace on the globe.
Before this base was built I’m told back in 1951 they say there was a massive battle, bayonet charge, to clear the area of communist troops. Times have changed. Bayonets still have their place but the threats to peace have grown. They have continued to grow into this new 21st Century security environment I suppose as they have throughout history. They change and evolve.
Each of you volunteered, and that’s very special. You raised your hand and said, “I want to serve.” You volunteered to lead a tough life, a disciplined life, a life of service to your country. You’ve sacrificed in many ways and we know that. Your families have scarified in many ways and we appreciate them as well. They too deserve our thanks and our gratitude.
When you live and work as you do on the border between freedom and slavery, between democracy and communism, between prosperity and poverty, a divide so great that people to the north repress people, to be sure, watch their children waste away, eat bark as an evil regime spends its funds on weapons, I’m sure you have a very clear sense of your mission.
This summer we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of America’s treaty with the Republic of Korea and the end of the Korean War. The war was not easy. The enemy did not collapse within days. And because the peninsula, this peninsula was divided at the end, some people tend to think of it as having been a draw, if you will. But at the end of the day there were very clear winners and losers in the Korean War.
One nation below the demilitarized zone emerged into the light and went on to develop institutions of freedom and the infrastructure needed for the information age economy. The other nation has dwelt in poverty and darkness for five decades.
I say that literally. In the Pentagon I have a table with some glass on it and under the glass I have a photograph from a satellite at night of the Korean peninsula. What it shows is below the DMZ light, energy, people doing things, activity; and north of the DMZ it is black. There’s one pinpoint of light at Pyongyang the capitol of North Korea.
That is the difference between tyranny and freedom.
The success of the Republic of Korea didn’t happen by accident and it didn’t happen overnight. It happened for several reasons, one of which was that the United States of America, our families, your families, made a commitment to security on this peninsula and they kept it. They have kept it for 50 years. Our men and women in uniform were stationed in places like Osan to help guarantee the peace. And because we did so the Republic of Korea has transformed itself from a small, war-torn nation into a nation of people who are free and prosperous, who have a vibrant democracy, and who are engaged constructively in the world. It is an enormous success story.
I was interviewed up in Seoul yesterday or the day before. The woman interviewing me was very interested in the government of Korea’s decision to send additional troops to Iraq. They already have some forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the press is now discussing the President of Korea’s decision to send some additional forces. She looked at me, a Korean woman, and she said ‘why should the Korean people send their young men and women over to Iraq, halfway across the globe?’ It’s a fair question. I said I suppose for the exact same reason that the American people sent their young men and women over to Korea 50 years ago.
You ask the question was it worth it? You bet it was. Was it easy? No. It has not been easy and it’s not easy today. You know that. Nor was it free. But it was the right thing to do. And at the end of the day when the institutions of a new democracy have taken root and when Iraq becomes a constructive player in the Middle East and not a threat to its neighbors and not a threat to its own people, the rightness of our efforts there, as tough as it is today -- and it is tough and dangerous, let there be no doubt. That the rightness of our efforts there will be clear as well.
Some ask why should Americans expend American blood and treasury in Iraq? The answer is because it’s in our national interest to help the Iraqi people to become constructive players in the community of nations. Americans will be safer if Iraq is part of an axis of peace instead of an axis of evil.
All of you have worked hard personally and sacrificed to help keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula. You’re part of something that the world has rarely seen in history – the mighty armed forces of a truly great nation that sends it sources to help people – not to plunder, not to pillage, not to conquer and destroy, but to assist them in building free and prosperous nations.
The American people value and appreciate your service. I appreciate your service. Your country is grateful and proud of each of you.
Now I would be delighted to respond to some questions. I’m told there are some microphones here. If the questions are too tough I’ve got General LaPorte here. [Laughter] And Leon can handle the tough ones.
So who’s first? Why don’t you raise your hand? There you go. Now you’re talking. It always kind of scares me, the first one. They’re too eager. [Laughter]
Q: Mr. Secretary, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Sabo, Dr. Sabo, from the 51st Med Group here at Osan Air Base, Korea.
My question is with the attrition rate, especially in the medical corps that I see, is there any action that’s being done to try to increase incentives to stay in the military, such as retirement pay and tying bonuses and such into trying to keep people in the service?
Rumsfeld: The department works with the Congress every year to look at the management of the force. What one has to do is to ask yourself when you ended compulsion conscription, which was in my view the right thing to do, we had the responsibility to see that we have the proper incentives to attract and retain the people of all disciplines that are necessary to provide the people we need to defend our country. Each year they go through a process where they analyze the attrition rates and the ability to attract, recruit as well as retain, and who recommend to the Congress adjustments of various types.
We now have the ability to make some of the adjustments within the department itself without going to the Congress. But they are relatively minor. All I can say is that I’m not knowledgeable about anything that specifically is being done with respect to the medical services, but clearly if you’re correct that there is a serious attrition problem in those skill sets. We’ve got to have them. It’s terribly important for the success of the force. And I’m confident that the surveys that are done will demonstrate that and they will find ways to increase the incentives so that we are able to attract and retain what we need.
Thank you, Doctor.
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary.
Q: I’m Tech Sergeant James Hawkins. I’m from the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, Osan Air Base. My hometown is Whiteful, North Carolina.
Mr. Secretary, my question is when we’re deployed to Iraq we’re considered tax exempt from federal income taxes. Sir, is there any legislation currently in the works for tax-exempt consideration for those forces deployed to the Republic of Korea?
RUMSFELD: Not to my knowledge. I’m told that in each conflict in recent times, including Desert Storm for example, about 10 or 12 or 13 years ago, the Congress steps up and decides that for the folks in that particular conflict they will provide a tax exemption. They did it when Afghanistan took place and they have then followed it for Iraq. But in no instance am I aware that they’ve ever done it for areas that are not currently in conflict.
Q: Mr. Secretary –
RUMSFELD: Why is it that they won’t let the person asking the question hold the mike? [Laughter] If you don’t like the question you’re going to pull it away or something? [Laughter]
Q: Mr. Secretary, I’m Captain Jewell Ebanks, U.S. Air Force, assigned to the 51st Maintenance Squadron here at Osan Air Base. My hometown is Englewood, New Jersey.
Sir, my question is what is your vision regarding future U.S. military forces in Korea?
RUMSFELD: What’s your vision? [Laughter and Applause]
The President asked me when I came back to this post as Secretary of Defense to look at our arrangements all over the globe and we have been doing that now for the better part of two years -- the so-called footprint or posture, our force posture, how we’re arranged. The reality is that we were pretty much arranged in a way that was kind of left over from the last century. We were arranged in some instances with sort of a static defense posture. And in the 21st Century that really isn’t going to be good enough. We have to be much more agile. We have to be able to move more quickly. We don’t have to worry about a major tank battle coming across the north German plain from the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union has disappeared.
What we do need to do is to see that we have reviewed our deployments, that we have a forward engagement strategy, that we stay engaged in the world as a deterrent, as well as the ability to defend particularly in a situation like this. So as part of that we have been reviewing our force posture here in Korea.
General LaPorte and his team have been analyzing what they think makes sense. They have come back and made recommendations. And the recommendations to kind of do it very simply have been that we probably ought to consolidate from a very large number of locations around the peninsula forward into two hubs – one in this area and one south, so that we have a bigger concentration of our capabilities and our people. That is something that he and others are in the process of discussing with the Republic of Korea government. So full stop on that.
The vision is that this has been just a wonderfully successful alliance. On the other hand the Republic of Korea is today, 50 years later, I think it’s probably the 12th largest gross domestic product on the face of the earth. It has a population that’s probably twice as large as North Korea’s. It has a vibrant, energetic economy. And as the President of Korea said within the last month or two, it is time for them to set a goal to become somewhat more self-reliant. They suggested they would do that over a decade’s period. And as they do that, which is I believe a sound approach from their standpoint, as they do that one would think we would be able to work with them to assure that the deterrent and the ability to defend remains effective. Because we do not want to inject any instability into this peninsula. This is an enormously important part of the world for us and for, needless to say, the people here.
So what I see is the circumstance evolving over the coming decade with us making some adjustments, with the Republic of Korea making some adjustments, and each of us transforming our forces in ways that will take advantage of the new technologies that exist and the ability to use precision munitions, for example. And that will be something that will increase our capability and certainly assure that we keep a very stable, healthy deterrent.
Q: Thank you.
RUMSFELD: How did I do? [Laughter]
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary.
Q: I’m a staff sergeant major. I was reassigned as a firefighter here at Osan Air Base. My question is, with the increase in terrorism and recruiting going as well it has been in the military, why is there so much emphasis on base closures and reduction in forces?
RUMSFELD: Let me just – the reason for the discussion on base closure is that at the end of the Cold War there was a draw down in our forces, which has stopped. When it was over there were several instances where some bases were closed. But it is estimated today that we have bases from the United States that are something like 25 percent more than are needed for our force structure -- even assuming the desirability of having some surge capability.
Second, we have bases around the world that are kind of left over from the end of the Cold War and some of those can be addressed as well.
Bases are expensive. As a result it may require force protection as well. So when one looks at the budget and you have a choice between paying people more, more appropriately, or investing in the kind of equipment that assures that they’re well equipped, or making investments in the future in science and technology against keeping bases that every expert who looks at it, says in the United States is in excess of something like 23 to 25 percent. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to propose that we have a base closing process and that is what’s underway for next year, I believe. It’s called BRAC. As I say, it’s been done once or twice or thrice in history and it’s going to be done again. This independent commission will look at it and make recommendations.
With respect to the second part of your question, why is there talk of reduction in forces, there is no talk of reduction in forces that I’ve heard. The only talk you hear is the possibility of increasing end strength in the United States military. That analysis is going on continuously as to whether or not it is necessary to increase end strength.
There are a lot of things we can do to reduce the stress on the force and there is no question but that there has been stress on the force. Any time you have a spike in activity like Afghanistan or in Iraq, it means you have to call up more Guard and Reserve. It means you have to deploy more active forces. And indeed, you don’t want to live permanently with that kind of a stress on the force, which is why you hear about the possibility of end strength increases as opposed to end strength reductions.
Fair enough? All right.
Q: How are you doing, sir? My name’s Airman Gray from the 51st OIS, Physical Operations, Osan Air Base.
My question is, with the increased deaths in Iraq, what are we doing to make sure that our troops are making it home, and what are your reactions to the terrorist acts going on over there now?
RUMSFELD: What we’ve got going on in Iraq is really a contradiction. On the one hand you have some very good things taking place. The schools are open, the hospitals and clinics are working, there’s a central bank, they have a new currency, they have a Governing Council, they have city councils or provincial councils that cover most of the country at the present time. The Governing Council’s appointed a Cabinet of Ministers that are very talented and on the security side we’ve been able to go from zero up to something in excess of 130,000 Iraqi security forces in the army, the border patrol, site protection and the like. So there’s a lot of good that’s happening. Essential services are being delivered, electricity and water and the like. There’s no humanitarian crisis, there’s no ethnic cleansing taking place, which has occurred previously between the various religious elements in the country. That’s not happening.
So that’s on the plus side of the ledger.
On the minus side of the ledger it is a very dangerous place. The remnants of the Ba’athist regime are still there. How many? There are a lot of them left, but how many of them are actively opposing the coalition? I don’t know. General Abizaid has estimated maybe 5,000. There were something like 100,000 criminals let out of the jails of Iraq by Saddam Hussein. Some of them are still at large. There are foreign terrorists coming across the borders from basically Syria and Iran. Our folks, our troops are out arresting them and finding them all the time. We’ve got something between 200 and 300 of them in jails at the present time that have come from these various porous borders that exist.
General Abizaid believes there is not any kind of a – anything that any one can characterize as a military threat to the United States forces there of a strategic nature. There are some number of thousands of people who are using rocket-propelled grenades, they’re using improvised explosive devices, they’re using landmines, and they are successfully – they’re using some surface-to-air missiles – and they are successfully killing Americans and coalition forces, and in addition they are killing a lot of Iraqis.
So you have a lot of progress taking place, and simultaneously you have terrorist acts or low intensity warfare taking place. A recent estimate was that about 95 percent of it is in Baghdad, the immediate environs and north in Tikrit, in that so-called triangle area. There are incidents south and far north and in the west as well, but a very low number of them generally.
You ask what’s being done about it. What’s being done is the military forces in Iraq are adjusting their tactics and techniques and procedures to put pressure on the terrorists. They’re doing it all across the country. Every day that goes by they are finding additional caches of weapons, money. They’re arresting people in relatively large numbers and I think, I could be wrong by 10 or 15 percent, but in a recent week – I’m not sure if it was last week or the week before or the one before that, but there was something – hundreds and hundreds of patrols. There were dozens and dozens of these improvised explosive devices found that had not exploded. There were a couple of handfuls that did explode in some instances that killed people. There were something like 200 people captured and detained and imprisoned on raids that took place. There were some 40 or 50 killed and another 40 or 50 wounded.
What’s happening is our forces are out going to school on what the terrorists are doing and simultaneously the terrorists are going to school on what we’re doing. You can just see the thing evolve and move from one type of attack to another as we are more successful – not just we. At the present time there are more Iraqi security forces in Iraq then there are American security forces. We’re down to about 127,000 and the Iraqis have something north of 130,000, and then there’s the coalition forces of another 25,000 or 30,000. Our trend line is to keep transferring over responsibility for security in the country away from U.S. and coalition forces to the Iraqi forces. That’s moving apace.
It’s going to be a bumpy road. When you’re recruiting that many people and training that many people that fast, there are undoubtedly going to be some people who are going to get weeded out as we go along. Some of the people in the police, for example, have been put on the street with only four weeks training instead of what was considered appropriate eight weeks training. They’re going to have to be recycled for the second four weeks of training. The army people being trained take a considerably longer time because they’re better equipped and better trained and will be obviously a more competent force than the people that receive a much shorter training period.
But the path we’re on is to transfer sovereignty for Iraq to the Iraqi people. The President met with his National Security Council the day I left, which is about a week ago, and Ambassador Bremer, and discussed some proposals that the Iraqi Governing Council had made. Ambassador Bremer went back and is now in the process of working with them on those proposals and developing a path, a timeline as to how he feels and they feel it’s appropriate to pass sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
Simultaneously we’re passing more and more responsibility for security to the Iraqi people. That is the path we’re on.
The goal obviously is to stay as long as is necessary to see that they’re on an appropriate path towards a stable society and not a day longer. The path we’re on is to say that it ought to be a single country, it ought not to be broken up into little pieces. It ought to be a country that’s at peace with its neighbors. It ought to be a country that has a system of government that’s respectful of the various diverse elements and religious groups that exist in that country. And then last, they ought to have a government that fits Iraq. It ought to be an Iraqi-fashioned solution to their future.
The people there are scarred by decades of a repressive, dictatorial, truly vicious regime. The mass graves in that country are a sight. The thought of tens of thousands of people being killed and put in these mass graves. The prisons are something to behold. The film that’s been being shown on television recently of captured Iraqi intelligence films of filming of people having their hands cut off and their heads cut off and being thrown off of buildings, their tongues pulled off with pliers and cut off. It’s just a regime that the world is so much better off that it is gone and that those 23 million people are liberated.
If you add the Afghan people, another 23 million, it’s something like 46 million people have been liberated from vicious regimes in the case of Iraq and from a country that was basically a massive terrorist training camp in the case of Afghanistan. So a lot of good has happened and yet we’re still in a dangerous, difficult phase.
Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is Airman First Class John Cardeau. I’m from the Osan Air Base, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron, POL. Ferndale, Michigan is where I’m from.
My question is, base housing back in the States is going to privatization where they’re moving them off base and allowing not only the military citizens to live in the housing, but also people from the public. Do you believe this opens us up to more terrorist activity, opening our – we might slip with ComSec or OpSec, causing us possible damage to the military in the United States.
RUMSFELD: Your voice dropped a little and I’m not sure I got it all, but there are two things happening. In the United States needless to say force protection is important, as it is anywhere in the world. Given the fact that terrorists exist, that they clearly are perfectly willing to go out and kill innocent men, women and children, one has to be attentive to the point you’re making.
On the other hand people go about their lives, free people. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize people and to incite fear and to force them to alter their behavior. If there’s anything that strikes at free people it’s that. We simply can’t be free people if we’re fearful and if our behavior has to be altered which is why in my view the President’s approach of going after the terrorists where they are is the only solution. You simply can’t just hunker down and think you can defend yourself in every conceivable location. You can’t do it. You’ve got to go find them where they are and stop them and you’ve got to go to the havens where they exist and stop them.
The housing situation, I’m not quite familiar with what I took it, what I think you said. We’re using a lot more private money to create housing for military families and the reason we’re doing it is because it’s leveraged us dramatically in terms of the number of units that can be built. As a result we’ve been able to press forward at a pretty good clip around the United States, and they’re beginning to think of doing the same thing in some other countries.
If I’m not mistaken, some of those houses are on military land and some are off military land, but in every instance they’re vastly better housing for military than existed before and they’re newer. We are able to do it at a much faster rate.
So we have to be attentive to the force protection issue, but personally I think when you weigh the advantages and the disadvantages that our forces are an awful lot better off having better housing built at a better clip and getting them out of the substandard housing that exists, that still exists in a number of places in the United States.
Q: Thank you, sir.
RUMSFELD: You bet.
Q: Mr. Secretary, sir, it’s an honor to meet you. I am Staff Sergeant Phillip Stark from the 51st Maintenance Squadron. My hometown is Phoenix, Arizona – which is much warmer than here.
In light of the situation involving the Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, do you see a need to reevaluate the chaplain mission system DoD wide?
RUMSFELD: I guess I don’t, and let me tell you why. I’m 71 years old. I’ve lived a long time. I don’t think there’s been a five-year period in my lifetime where there hasn’t been a major spy scandal in the United States. Sometimes it’s in the services, sometimes it’s in another part of government, sometimes it’s in the intelligence agencies, sometimes it’s the Army, the Navy, sometimes it’s a chaplain, sometimes it’s an intelligence person. It’s the nature of the world that people are going to spy. They’ve been doing it for a long time.
Now I’m not going to opine about what took place in Guantanamo because those cases are currently pending in the military justice system and it’s not for me in my position to characterize anything about that.
But I think that to think that necessarily because there’s an allegation against a person who happens to be a chaplain, that therefore one has to look at that category specifically, is probably no more true than if the person happened to be a cook or something else.
So what we have to do is be careful of everything, particularly when people are dealing with detainees. I would cast it more that way. Clearly the Army SOUTHCOM has the responsibility for Guantanamo Bay, is I think doing quite a good job. There’s no question but that in the vetting process at least people who now have some charges against them got through the vetting process. Maybe they’re innocent, maybe they’re not innocent, I just don’t know.
But I think what we have to do is be careful everywhere. People’s lives are at risk. We have to do everything humanly possible to vet people so that when they are put in positions where they have access to information that can be damaging to our country, that we’ve done everything we can do to see that they’re the kind of people in whom we can give that kind of trust.
When an event like these charges occur it does cause everyone to begin to be more careful again, and that’s a good thing. We’ve got the same problem, to be perfectly honest, with the Iraqis that we’re bringing into the Iraqi security services, into the army and into the border patrol and into the civil defense and the site protection. You start an intake that enables you to go from zero to 131,000 Iraqi security people in a matter of four or five or six months, you’ve got to know that some of those folks you’re ultimately not going to want in there.
Part of the way you do it is you check it against a database. The next thing you do is you publicly vet them. That is to say they pop their heads up and that gives people a chance to say, ‘oh, wait a minute. I’m not sure you want that fellow in this police force or in the army. He was connected with the Ba’athists’ or something. So you get a public vetting process. But it’s a very tough thing to do. I wish there were a way to do it perfectly, but I just don’t know what it is.
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. My name is Senior Airman Williams. I’m stationed here at Osan, the 51st Communications Squadron. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas.
My question is in regard to more current events, in regard to the security issues being issued to North Korea. My question basically is if those take place and if they come to fruition, how would that affect bases such as Osan, Kunsan, things of that nature centrally located here as well as in places like Okinawa and places in Japan?
RUMSFELD: Where we’ve arrived is we have concepts. The next step – and they’re pretty well thought through, well developed conceptually. The next step then is to go to the countries, our friends and allies in some cases, some other countries that are not currently necessarily allies, and talk to them about these concepts. The next step after that is to go to the Congress and work through how that might be done. Then it rolls out over a period of time.
If I were to start talking about what some of those concepts were beyond what I’ve already said I would kind of be getting ahead of my headlights because we have not talked to some of the countries about them. We need to do that. We’ve also not quite gotten to the Congress yet and therefore how it will eventually evolve depends on those two interactions, both of which are very important in determining how it will shake out.
But my guess is you’ll end up seeing that the United States continues to have a considerable presence overseas, but that it may be adjusted lighter or heavier than previously, and that it will tend to be positioned in ways that it can move quickly, be relatively agile, and be deployable as opposed to static. I think that that very likely will give our country a healthier deterrent and an ability to use our forces in the most effective way wherever in the world they might be needed.
One of the things we’ve concluded about the world we’re living in today is that in the last century it was relatively easy to look around the world and say that is where the threat will come from, that country. And the threat will be of this type. We can’t do that today. No one asked me in my confirmation hearings three years ago what did I think about Afghanistan. It never came up.
What does that mean? It means we have to be positioned in a way that recognizes that threats can come up in ways that are surprising, and we need to be more attentive to the kinds of capabilities that will be posed against us rather than specifically where they might come from.
If one looks across this globe there are big, large portions of the globe that are not being governed by anybody. Those ungoverned areas are dangerous areas. They’re areas where terrorists can train. They’re areas that can be used for hostage taking. They can be used for narcotics trafficking. They can be used for a host of global problems that you can’t hold a country accountable for.
The other problem we’ve got are these seams that exist between countries, the so-called borders. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a difficult problem for us. The border between Afghanistan and Iran is a problem. The border between Iran and Iraq is a problem. The border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen is used to advantage by people. And it makes it a very difficult set of problems.
So I think generally that’s how it will roll out, but it will be a force that, a positioning, a posture, a footprint, that gives us that kind of flexibility that we can deal with issues as they arise rather than the old days where you simply constantly looked at the Soviet Union and tried to help prevent them from expanding any more than they already had.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming today. I’m Lieutenant Deloved from 51st Operation Support Squadron, Osan. I have a question about intelligence.
Do you see the possible future creation of a foreign intelligence department similar to the Department of Homeland Defense so that both civilian and military intelligence agencies can operate under one umbrella?
RUMSFELD: There are people who talk about the idea of bringing all intelligence under a single entity. It’s got some appeal.
If you look at the task of national intelligence, for example, you can say well, why do we have some of it here and some of it there and some of it somewhere else? And logic would then say let’s bring it all together so we make the most efficient use of our funds and we can establish priorities that are appropriate.
The problem with that is, it seems to me, is that national intelligence isn’t what it’s all about. National intelligence is important but so is military intelligence. So is tactical intelligence. So is preparation of the battlefield. That can be quite different.
One could then argue well if that’s important, which indeed it is, it’s critical to our success that we have good intelligence, military intelligence, then why not bring all intelligence under that umbrella?
I think the truth is that we’re probably arranged pretty well. The reason I say that is that it seems to me there are two things you don’t want to centralize excessively. One is research and development because no one has a monopoly on innovation or creativity or brains. The worst thing you could do is if you’re in the research and development business is to get everyone in the same town in the same building going to lunch together and they all begin to think alike. That’s the last thing you want.
The second worst thing you can do, I think, is to centralize intelligence. What we need is multiple sources of information. We need competing ideas and a variety of ways of gathering intelligence, it seems to me. We need people who think unconventionally about intelligence. It’s one thing to say there are no knowns, here are the things we know we know and let’s talk about them and let’s arrange them into estimates and make sure the people have that information.
There’s another category of known unknowns. We know we don’t know certain things. That’s good to know. It’s almost as good as knowing what you know, to know what you don’t know. [Laughter] I’m serious. [Laughter]
But there’s a whole other category and that’s the unknown unknowns. They’re the things you don’t know you don’t know. And that is the problem. And what you need is to have people thinking about those things in a way that’s fresh and different. And let me just use the word sometimes wasteful, if you will. The same thing’s true with research and development.
[Blank spot on tape] expensive laboratories, and they get up every morning and the go out there and try to find this, that or the other thing and fail. They weren’t failing. They were learning. They were learning that that isn’t the way to do it. That is not where the solution is. You set that aside. That’s how the wonderful pharmaceuticals and the medical therapies that exist today were developed. They weren’t developed by someone who just sat down and drove a straight line towards the goal line and said that’s how we’re going to get that. It was through that kind of trial and error. And quite honestly, that’s true in intelligence as well.
So I could criticize it, I could play it round or square, centralize it one place, centralize it another place, or leave it like it is. My best judgment tells me that we’re probably better arranged today than we would be if we took either of the other courses.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I’m Lieutenant –
RUMSFELD: Could you speak up a little?
Q: I’m Lieutenant Lee assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, Manpower Office here in Osan Air Base. I’m from Los Angeles, California.
My question is, if and when the reunification of the Koreas ever were to happen, what direct manpower impact do you see here for the forces assigned here in Korea?
RUMSFELD: I’m one of those people who -- I’m always an optimist. I do see a day when this peninsula will be unified. I don’t know when it will happen. I sure hope and pray it’s in my lifetime. I think of the tragedy of the lives of those folks living up north in that darkness. It is just a crime, literally a crime.
If and when it happens I suppose one could look at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the situation in East and West Germany as well as East and West Berlin. It’s complicated. The two halves are so different in nature that it is not an easy thing to bring them together, but I think it can happen and I hope and pray it does happen one day. The problems of working through how that reunification would take place in terms of what would have to be done and the inevitable flows of people in different directions. Those problems would be so much less than the problems that exist today. Clearly, if this peninsula were unified and peaceful, that would be a wonderful thing and a wonderful accomplishment and the folks that serve here would not have to serve here because it would be, the threat would have been reduced and to the extent we were here, it would be for whatever purposes still existed.
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I’m Steven [inaudible] from Kunsan Air Base, LRS, the Kunsan Air Base Honor Guard, from Lakewood, Washington.
My question is if a conflict was to happen with North Korea here do you see a problem with sending forces here and keeping forces in Iraq to fulfill both conflicts?
RUMSFELD: No. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the combatant commanders in the regions have a set of contingency plans as to how they would manage their affairs and the conclusion they have from the exercises they conduct and the scenarios they engage in is that the United States is capable of dealing with a major conflict such as Iraq and a sizeable force deployment and simultaneously being able to relatively swiftly defeat any invasion of that type. It’s not your first choice, needless to say, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff have advised me that that’s the case and advised the President that that’s the case.
Q: Thank you, sir.
Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. My name is Sergeant Harry James Nelson. I’m with Charlie Battery, 143 80AD, I’m stationed here at Osan Air Base. I was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
My question for you is right now Patriot is centralized in Fort Bliss, Texas. Is there any way we can be decentralized instead of staying in one spot?
RUMSFELD: I don’t know. [Laughter] I’m afraid that’s a question that really ought to be posed to Pete Schoomaker and the Army. I honestly do not know if they’re considering ay changes there.
Patriot batteries are needed and valuable and performed well in Iraq. They are important in my view in this peninsula, not just for the protection of U.S. forces but I think eventually the Korean government has to think about missile defense of that type.
But in terms of whether or not there would be a change of location of the type you’re talking about, I’m sorry, I just don’t know. I bet you General LaPorte knows. [Laughter]
I’m getting the hook. One last question.
Q: I’m honored. Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I’m Lieutenant Sabani. I’m an engineer for the 554th Red Horse Squadron here at Osan. I was raised in Beaverton, Oregon.
My question is that in the two years and change since September 11th, there have been no major successful terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. What factors in your opinion have contributed to the apparent lack, the complete lack of any terrorist incidents on our homeland?
RUMSFELD: Let me take a minute or two and walk around that a little bit because it’s an important question.
After September 11th the President made a judgment that was essentially that the only way to deal with terrorists was to put pressure on the terrorist networks. You couldn’t defend in every place at every time against every technique. The only thing you could do was to go out and find the terrorist networks, find the terrorists, capture or kill them, and find the countries that are providing a haven for them, find the people who are giving them money and shut off their bank accounts, get other countries to help.
We have the largest coalition that I ever heard of in my lifetime – 90 countries that are participating. They are sharing intelligence, they are sharing law enforcement information. They’re cooperating in terms of making it more difficult for people to cross borders, making it more difficult for people to move money. Trying to dry up some of the funds. Not fully successfully at the present time. There’s still money finding its way into terrorists, let there be no doubt.
The efforts in the United States have been extensive. But one has to say that if you look at the terrorist attacks that have occurred in Bali, in Riyadh, in Turkey, in Mombasa, four or five other places across the globe, they’re happening. There are terrorist attacks taking place. In Iraq there are terrorist attacks taking place. In Afghanistan there are.
I think that people in the United States are attentive. I think that the efforts that have been made to make life difficult for terrorists, to make their task more complex, to cost more money, to take more time has been useful. But one has to say that we have no guarantee that there won’t be additional terrorist attacks anywhere in the world simply because of the advantage that accrues to the attacker. And it’s just going to take us some time to work with these 90 other nations to put that pressure on and to see if we can’t continue to find success in capturing and killing people who have been trained to do that and are willing to do it and are willing to kill themselves in the process of doing it.
I think we’re making headway. I think it’s a tough business. I worry, to be very honest with you, about the question of how many additional terrorists are being brought into the process through these schools that teach people, and training camps that train people how to kill people. We can’t know that. That’s not knowable. That suggests to me that in addition to doing what we’re doing we’ve got to continue to try to work with countries to see that those schools start teaching, those so-called madrass schools, most of which are very fine educational process for people. But the handful, not a handful, several dozen handfuls of schools, that are training terrorists simply have to be stopped. They have to start teaching language or math or the things that people can use to have a constructive life. That’s a task that isn’t the job of the Pentagon, but it is certainly something that our country has to care about. We are getting some cooperation from countries where these schools exist, but needless to say it’s an awkward problem for some of those countries because they too are subject to terrorist attacks.
You just thank the good Lord that we haven’t had another serious one in the United States.
I’ll close by telling a story. Shortly after September 11th I was in Oman in the Middle East with Sultan Kabus, the Sultan of Oman. We were in a tent. He was out visiting his constituents, his people south of his capitol. It was very hot. It was probably October after September 11th -- a matter of weeks. I was on my way around the Middle East and we were preparing for the effort in Afghanistan.
He looked at me and he said September 11th may have been a blessing in disguise. I said in what way? He said maybe, just maybe it will be the event that will so jar our part of the world that we will address the problem of terrorism before terrorists get their hands on weapons of mass destruction and conduct chemical or biological or radiation attacks by gaining these capabilities from terrorist states that have those capabilities. And maybe we will have prevented a catastrophe that involved not 3,000 lives – men, women and children of all nationalities and races and religions – but maybe an event that could cost 30,000 or 300,000 lives.
He went on to say that it is his task and the task of the people in that region, and the people in countries where these schools exist, to take the leadership to see that the funds dry up to the people that are teaching people to kill other people, and the funds are channeled into the schools and the activities where people are training for constructive and productive roles in the world.
I want to thank you all. God bless you. You’re doing a great job. Thank you.