(Participating was Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photos can be viewed at.) http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-F-2828D-206.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-F-2828D-194.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-F-2828D-141.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-F-2828D-077.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-D-2987S-209.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-D-2987S-141.html, http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-D-2987S-108.html , http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Nov2003/031121-D-2987S-046.html.
SEC. RUMSFELD: A full house. General Myers, men and women of the Department of Defense, I thank you for being here and for all you do for our country.
Next Thursday, Americans all over the world will gather to celebrate with family and friends and give thanks for the blessings of freedom and of life. Thanksgiving is a very special American holiday, first in 1621, I'm told, although I wasn't there -- (laughter) -- and celebrated every year since. It's a reminder not just of the abundance that freedom brings, but of the origins of our great country, really the first nation in the history of the world to be founded on freedom.
For the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving was the culmination of a long year of hardship and struggle, a struggle in which they risked everything for the right to be free. Freedom lies at the heart of who we are and what we believe as Americans. And for well more than two centuries, our country has been blessed, year after year, with men and women willing to fight and die to defend freedom, the freedom that we all cherish. This Thanksgiving, Americans have a great deal to be grateful for and proud of. Americans can be proud of our heritage and certainly grateful for our freedom. We're proud of the men and women in the military, active, Guard and Reserves, and grateful for their service, every one, a volunteer. We appreciate their families as well who also sacrificed so that they can serve. And we're grateful to each of you -- military, civilian, contractors, employees of the Department of Defense -- who support them all.
We're grateful for each soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who has given his or her life in the cause of freedom, and for every member of the armed forces of our coalition partners who died for freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere across the globe.
On September 11th, enemies of freedom brought war to our shores. And in the two years since, we have taken the war to the enemy. It was not so much a choice as a responsibility. And we now have the responsibility to follow through. The road ahead will not be easy. There will be successes, to be sure, but there will also be setbacks and regrettably a price to be paid in lives and treasure.
But consider what has already been accomplished. Our country has helped to liberate 23 million people in Afghanistan and another 23 million people in Iraq. Today in Iraq, almost every city, town, village and province has a government or a council chosen by and run by local Iraqis. More than 130,000 Iraqi security forces are now taking the responsibility for security for their own country. More than 150 Iraqi newspapers are now in circulation, free press in that country for the first time in decades. Hospitals, clinics, schools, universities are open. Water, power and essential services are at or above pre-war levels in most of the country. And we're working with the Iraqi Governing Council to establish a provisional government so that responsibility and sovereignty can be transferred to the Iraqi people sometime next year.
Those attempting to prevent the Iraqi people from taking hold of their country and determining their future have launched many new attacks -- attacks on coalition forces, to be sure, but also attacks on Iraqis themselves. There are certainly a great many Iraqis being killed by the remnants of the regime that's trying to take back the country. These attacks will not deter the coalition from its mission. The coalition will stay the course -- 34 countries strong now. And they will stay and work and succeed.
Each of you here, and those watching around the world, have made important contributions to the successes that have been achieved. You've worked long hours, you've given of yourselves to ensure freedom prevails in the war on terror, and to assure that this department is prepared for the new threats that will certainly emerge in this still new 21st century.
To help us better deal with those threats, Congress recently approved a defense authorization bill with a number of important transformational initiatives, including a new National Security Personnel System that will give the department the flexibility it needs to quickly respond to changes in the new security environment. The new system will provide you, the men and women of the department, the freedom and flexibility that you'll need to do your jobs. Each of you has chosen to serve our national defense because you want to contribute to peace and to the security of this country. This legislation will help you transform the department so that DOD's great civilian workforce can be as agile, as flexible and as innovative as the forces you support in the field.
Let me close by saying this: Our country is engaged in a great cause; you are engaged in a great cause, the cause of freedom. And you have much to be proud of.
This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for all of you and what you have done to serve our country, and for the men and women of the U.S. military who defend our freedom every day. I hope you'll all enjoy a well-deserved rest this coming weekend -- next weekend, I guess it is -- and spend time with family and friends. And needless to say, we'll all keep the men and women on the frontlines, those who will not be with their families on Thanksgiving, in our thoughts and prayers, and their families as well.
So, have a good rest next week, and come back rested and ready. A great deal of important work remains to be done. So thank you, and God bless you.
Now you get to hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- (pause) -- General -- Air Force General -- four-star -- Richard Myers. And a terrific guy. Here he is.
GEN. MYERS: Well, good morning. Thank you, Secretary Rumsfeld, for that very kind introduction.
As you heard the secretary say, nearly 400 years after the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, we can still be thankful for the blessings of peace, for freedom and for prosperity, blessings our nation's armed forces have honorably defended.
Ben Franklin once said that those who, quote, "give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." Throughout our nation's history, our resolve has been tested at pivotal moments, when the nation had to decide whether to shrink from danger to purchase a little temporary safety or risk our blood and treasure for values worth defending -- the American Revolution, the Civil War, the World Wars, the Cold War, including Vietnam and Korea.
In my view, today the stakes are just as high. We're taking a stand that global terrorism and its creed of fear, of hatred, of violence and intolerance will not replace the liberty and opportunity so many Americans fought for in the past.
For most Americans, Thanksgiving brings to mind home and family. So we've all got to remember the brave men and women who stand watch in Iraq, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Korea, Guantanamo Bay and other bases around the world, ships at sea, we know they won't be carving the traditional turkey and probably not watching their favorite football games on the family couch. They're going to eat their meals in dining halls, perhaps attend services in a tent or write a letter home. But they'll keep performing their duties, as they do every day. And as the secretary is, I am very thankful for them and for the tremendous work they're doing in defending freedom.
Their efforts are enhanced and enabled by your efforts. And we're grateful to each of you, all of you sitting here today. Our nation owes you a tremendous debt. You might come to work in Class Bs, maybe a business suit, instead of Kevlar or DCUs. You might spend the day manning the operations centers, chairing discussions, drafting plans for the future, providing administrative or personnel support, or doing research and analysis or the myriad of other things that we're involved in around here.
You don't make CNN or the Washington Post -- or at least not very often. (Laughter.) Probably not on purpose. (Laughter.) But what you do is incredibly important. And I'd like to take just a minute here to highlight the contributions of a few individuals who really represent all of you.
First, Sergeant Keith Babineau (sp), would you please stand? You're stage right, you're -- not stage right, you're there in the middle. (Laughter.) You can see, United States Army, from Headquarters Command Battalion, who helps keep Fort Meade secure. He also volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the 10th Special Forces Group. Welcome back, and thanks for all you do. (Applause.)
Lieutenant Commander Daniel Montgomery -- there you are, good, Dan -- member of the Navy Crisis Operations Team. He stood watch in the Navy ops center for Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Applause.)
Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Billy Abbott, superintendent for executive travel at the Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency. He's the one, among other things, that keeps Secretary Rumsfeld and myself connected when we travel. He's also responsible for the communications between our leadership in Iraq and back here in Washington.
With him also today are his parents, the Abbotts (sp). Why don't you go ahead and stand as well? From where?
Q Hot Springs, Arkansas.
GEN. MYERS: There you go. (Laughter, applause.) And it's great to have you here, and I think your fiancé, Kim Philips (sp), is here as well. So just to show you this is a family affair, which all of us know, but it really is a family affair, and great to have you here. Thank you. (Applause.)
And from the Marine Corps, Sergeant Antonio De Escanes (sp), an office clerk in -- for Marine Headquarters Battalion at Henderson Hall, provides superb administrative support for every one of the 2,000 Marines in the capital region. Nice to have you here today as well. (Applause.)
And then Rosemary Brown (sp), from the office of the director of the Joint Staff, who skillfully and tactfully juggles literally thousands of tasks for the Joint Staff, particularly for Admiral Keating and indirectly for me. Thank you, Rosemary, for your efforts. (Applause.)
They represent all of you and all of those that are watching. That's the kind of work that goes on around here, day in and day out, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And we thank you, as the secretary said, for your long hours and your hard work.
And thanks to your families as well, for supporting you and sharing your time.
For all of us, really, this is our moment in history to take a stand. Every day we have to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and know we've done everything we can do to win this war on terror. Failure is simply not an option.
So I think we can congratulate you on what we've accomplished so far. But as all of you know, this is going to be a long, hard fight, and we have a long way to go. There's a lot left to do, and we're still counting on each of you to continue working on this problem.
In my view, you are some of America's greatest blessings. You're the reason millions of Americans can travel in safety and feast in prosperity and enjoy the freedom to pray or not pray on Thanksgiving Day.
Thank you, and have a great Thanksgiving week next week and the weekend that follows.
And now I think we're ready for questions.
SEC. RUMSFELD: True! (Laughter.)
Where's the fellow who worries about the underground? He's not here today. (Laughter.) Darn!
Questions? We've got microphones somewhere? No, we don't. So we'll just stand up and do it.
Q Sir --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, we do have microphones.
Q How do you envision the command and control relationships between the state governors, DOD and NORTHCOM in cases where federal forces might be required to augment the capabilities of a state in a terrorist attack?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've spent some -- a good deal of time on that subject. And as a matter of fact, General Eberhart was in from North Command recently to talk about it.
The likelihood is that the United States military, the Department of Defense, would end up being in a supporting role. And what would take place, very likely, would be that the first responders would be at the city and state, county level, and at some point, a request would be made for assistance from the Department of Defense, and the Northern Command would have the responsibility for supporting whatever capabilities -- using whatever capabilities we have to assist the first responders.
The linkages are being fashioned at the present time, and they're being fashioned through a series of exercises and discussions that are taking place, so that in the event of a crisis, the first meetings between these people will not be in the crisis, they will have occurred in an exercise environment previously, in the event something like that were to happen.
Does that address your question?
Q Yes, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good.
If someone behind me is raising their hand, let me know. There you go! (Laughter.) All right!
Q Sir, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Weeks with the --
SEC. RUMSFELD: There's a mike for you.
Q -- I'm with the Headquarters Air National Guard. And we pride ourselves on being ready, reliable, relevant and accessible on relatively short notice.
I was wondering, in light of your recent policy of not using or mobilizing our Reserve and Guard forces within the first 15 days of a conflict, what about those forces who are available on shorter notice? Would you be willing to entertain where it make sense using those forces?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have a policy like you described. (Laughter.) There may be one -- (pauses) -- (laughter) -- but it isn't mine!
Let me see how to respond to this. Excuse my back, but the microphone's here.
(To General Myers) Dick, you may want to get into this.
But the United States is perfectly willing to call up any Guard or Reserve on 15 minutes notice, if that's what the need of the country is. And believe me, we would be willing to do that. With respect to the Guard and Reserve, we have tried to have a policy where we would not mobilize somebody without 30 days notice. We've failed. During the Iraq arrangement, there were many people that were mobilized within five days notice, as I recall. And we're fixing the system, which was pretty badly broken, so that that won't be the case.
You're right, in the question, that there are various degrees of readiness in terms of the period that it would take to actually deploy somebody, depending on the nature of their skill sets and their responsibilities. But I'm just not familiar with what you indicated as a 15-day rule.
(To General Myers) Are you?
GEN. MYERS: No. I think probably what -- tell me if I'm right, but I think what you're referring to is the notion that, you know, every time we have a crisis, no matter what size, that we always have to mobilize to go do that crisis. That's why we're looking -- the secretary has directed us to look at rebalancing how we're mixed and so forth. But clearly, it will be different by service, and, you know, everybody's organized a little bit differently. So I don't think it gets -- I've never heard of that particular policy. I don't --
Q There was a letter that you signed out in August, I believe, sir, that said --
(Inaudible comment off-mike.)
Q -- the first 15 days you'd prefer not to mobilize forces for a contingency.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Maybe it has to do with my concern that Dick just referred to. I think that we need to have in the active force the people who are needed in the earliest part of a conflict. To the extent they're in the Reserves, then you can't start until you've alerted them, mobilized them, deployed them. If they're in the active force, you do not have to wait for that period. And it may be that that you're referring to.
Now, one of the things we're looking at is we're going to take some capabilities out of the active force and put them into the Guard and Reserve, and we're going to take some skill sets that are in the Guard and Reserve and put them in the active force. And the reason for that is because we find we're calling up some people too often. And if they wanted to be in the active force, they would be. And they wanted to be part of the total force, in the Guard and Reserve, but they did not think that that would mean you'd get called up very often; you know, once in a while, but not -- once every other year or something.
Given the nature of the world we're living in and the problems we've got, for example, with responsibilities in Kosovo and Bosnia, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world, we need to see that we have enough forces in the -- enough skill sets in the active force that are the kinds we're going to be using regularly, so that we don't mismanage the Guard and Reserve in a way that dissuades them from wanting to be a part of it.
Question? (Pause.) Let's go. Oh, there it is.
Q Sir, Mark Weeden at the Air Force Weather Division. Kind of a high-level question.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Are you suggesting the earlier ones weren't? (Laughter.)
Q They were very high-level. Not at all.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good. I just wanted to make sure -- clear the air there.
GEN. MYERS: (Off mike) -- later, yeah. (Laughter.)
Q Looking out on the future, obviously heavy deployment responsibilities, and don't see much prospect of that really going down. How does that square with overall pressure to downsize the military, at least the active-duty military? Do you see --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know of any pressure to downsize the active-duty military.
Q Well, numbers --
SEC. RUMSFELD: The only pressure I see is to increase it.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I mean, there's no one I know proposing -- in the Department of Defense, anyway -- that -- suggesting that the combined end strength on active duty or in the Guard and Reserve ought to be reduced.
Q So absolute numbers will go up.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. (Light laughter.) You should listen very carefully. (Laughter.) What I said was, I know of no pressure to reduce them. I do know of pressure to increase them. And I don't know of any studies that, at the present time, suggest that it would be a good trade-off, in terms of investments, to increase them.
We're doing the analysis now, and if the analysis suggests we do need more end strength, we obviously will go to the Congress and request increases.
At the present time, we're above our statutory end strength within the flexible capability -- what is it? Two percent or some --
GEN. MYERS: Sir, right, 2 percent.
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- we're allowed to go above that by some 2 percent, and we're pretty close to that. And of course we also have some stop losses still in place in at least one of the services.
But I can't -- I mean, looking at the world, right now we're stressing the force. There's just no question about it. That's because we've got a spike of activity because of Iraq. We've got 127,000 men and women over in Iraq, and that's a lot.
It's not permanent. And what we hope to do is to continue to increase the Iraqi security forces, to take over those responsibilities. We've gone from zero Iraqi security forces to 134,000 in -- since, oh, April or May.
And so the total forces in Iraq have gone up every week, even though the number of troops have gone down. Our high was about 150,000. We're currently at 127,000.
There are lots of other ways we can relieve stress on the force, besides increasing end strength. And it seems to me one of them is the National Security Personnel System that we just passed in the Congress, thanks to the Congress. We now have a situation where, I'm told, we may have as many as 300,000 men and women in uniform doing tasks worldwide that could be done by civilians or contractors. And the reason was -- is because the system was not very flexible. And not all of those should be civilians or contractors, but some of them could be. And any number it is -- take 10 percent, 30,000 -- that's a 30,000 increase in military end strength, if you will.
So, there are lots of things we can be doing to reduce stress on the force before we go to the obvious one of increasing end strengths. But I don't know anyone who's suggesting reducing. You must hang around with a funny crowd! (Laughter.)
All right, who else? Yes, ma'am -- miss.
Q Yes. I'm new to the Pentagon, and I'm here from San Diego, California, working with the Navy. And my question goes with -- following much of your answer. I'm here in part because of CA (commercial activity) studies and RIFs (Reduction In Force) that are currently being conducted in the Navy. With all the new missions that we've had, and the missions other than war and humanitarian missions and U.N. missions, et cetera, and with the look at having the reduction of CA studies and A-76 studies, and seeing --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm sorry, I know a lot of acronyms, but I don't know --
Q Okay. Well, commercial activity studies.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh.
Q My question is, with such a higher tempo that we've had lately, why are we continuing to commercialize or have CA -- commercial activity studies, when I've seen studies that were not actually saving that amount of -- a great amount of money with these A-76 or CA studies. Why are we downsizing and RIF-ing many of the civilians?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Net, I don't believe we are downsizing or RIF-ing so many civilians.
Q I'm coming from the San Diego area, and the Navy has been going through a rather strong civil service --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Has it? It may --
Q -- CA study.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It may be unique to San Diego or it may be unique to the Navy.
(To General Myers) Are you aware of any significant adjustments?
GEN. MYERS: I'm not. No, I'm not. I'd have to --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm just not aware of it.
Q All right. Well, thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sorry.
I would add one thing. It seems to me that this new personnel system will actually be of benefit to the civilian employees in the department. And the reason I say that is, at the present time, obviously, if you have as many as 300,000 positions that are being filled by military people, many of which need not be, there must be some reason that happened. And the reason it happened is when somebody needed something done, they could reach over and find a military person, they could put them in there, they could direct them to do something. The job could be done, they could take them out of that job and have them -- deploy them, and have them do something else. You can't do that with a civilian workforce, under the current personnel systems.
The studies and experiments that were done, and demonstration projects that were done in places like China Lake, and elsewhere, indicated that with greater flexibility, people would be much more likely to reach for a civilian employee, if they had the ability to manage them. At the present time, the management system in some offices, you may have 100 employees, you'd be trying to manage four, five or six different personnel systems with that few employees. Well, that's just a nightmare. And the flexibility -- we've just gotten the legislation -- my guess is there are things that it makes sense for civilian employees to do, there are things that it makes sense for contractors to do, and there's thing that it makes sense for people in uniform to do. And managers are much more likely to reach for the right solution now that this flexibility is going to be available to us and will be rolled in and implemented over the coming year or so.
Excuse me. I got --
Q No problem, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I was so pleased with the legislation, I just had -- (laughter).
Q At the outset of the meeting, you mentioned that there are now in circulation something like 150 newspapers in Iraq. Certainly there would be those who would utilize these resources to undermine the mission of the coalition over there.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And they are.
Q I was wondering if you could address how the advent of a free press in Iraqhas created additional challenges for the coalition.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you know, freedom means that people are free to be wise and to be foolish and to be helpful and to be destructive. And we just learn to live with that. And the numbers of journals and magazines and papers that have s sprung up, and television and radio stations, is a success in the sense that people in that country are able to say and do what they wish for the first time. You know, for decades, they've been allowed to do only those things that they were told to do, and everything else was prohibited. Suddenly it's all turned on its head, and now they're allowed to do anything except those few things that are prohibited. It's just backwards.
And, you know, we've seen the free press abused in this country and other countries, and it's not a surprise that it can get abused there. And it also makes the work harder to some extent, but in the last analysis, I think the benefits vastly outweigh the burdens of it.
GEN. MYERS: Can I add just one thing to that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You bet.
GEN. MYERS: And that is, the issue of communicating internally to the Iraqi people is an issue that we've been struggling with now for some time. The newspapers in some cases help, some cases hurt. There was a study done recently about the proliferation of satellite antennas, and so we know that they get a lot of their news now in this new, free era from satellites.
And so Ambassador Bremer's team has a group, as some of you probably know, that are working that very hard and standing up quality programming that we hope will attract the average Iraqi citizens' attention to what's going on in their own country and that will compete with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyah and other stations. That capability is standing up and is supposed to be fully up by next month, which is an important part of this whole communications scheme and important for their democracy.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The problem, even though we have it standing up by next month, like any television or radio or even the press, it has to develop an audience. It has to get programming that's attractive, and then it has to draw people in so that's they watch it. And at the present time, two of the most popular stations, Al Arabiyah and Al Jazeera, are, you know, just violently anti-coalition and were pro- Saddam Hussein, in the case of Al Jazeera, in such an obvious way. That they have audiences, and it will take time to persuade people to watch different programming.
Q Good morning, Mr. Secretary. My name is Lieutenant Evette Wood. I'm a fellow Princetonian. So, Go Tigers! (Laughs; laughter.) I am a --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know anyone who can get in that school these days. How did you do that? (Laughter.) I couldn't get accepted back in college anymore!
Q (Chuckles.) I am approaching my third year in the Air Force. And I, like many, many other young officers and enlisted people, am deciding whether or not I should continue on in the Air Force and the Department of Defense, or if I should punch and get out. What would you say to people in my situation that would encourage them to stay in?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, that is -- that is, for me, very easy. You know, you look at a lifetime and you think what you're doing is so important. It is -- it's so important to the country. And second, it is something that you volunteered to do that's tough, it takes discipline, it is not an easy life. And that puts you in a distinctive position, it seems to me. And as you add years to your still young life, and you think about your peers and what they're doing, you'll find that there are a lot of people like I was in the private sector, who every time I picked up a resume of someone looking for a job, I checked to see if they'd been in the military. I think you'll find it will be a help, regardless of where you end up going in your life.
Furthermore, I think -- (to General Myers) -- Dick, you might want to comment.
There are few activities, few vocations where young people get more responsibility early in a career.
GEN. MYERS: I agree with that. Or more fulfillment. I hope that's your case as well. And I would -- if I could just tag on, my view -- and I think the secretary shares this, but I'll state it -- it's my view that the threat we face from terrorism today is the greatest threat this nation has ever faced because they hope to instill fear, and it doesn't take much. I mean, just yesterday in Istanbul -- or let me put it differently, something you can all identify with.
I bet every time you schedule an air flight or you have a loved one fly to where you are, you think about it differently after 9/11 than you did before 9/11. I mean, it's an element of fear back there that, gee, maybe the world's changed. And what it takes is great public service, both civilians, military, to work through this period. I mean, there's not a more important time to have ever served and to be fulfilled that way. And I would -- I mean, I can't offer you advice. You have to make your own decisions. But it's really important that people stand up and serve their country in this time, because it's never been a more important time to serve. That's my view.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Do you want to sign up now? (Laughter.)
GEN. MYERS: I have the pen here! (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Question? Yes, sir?
Q Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Lieutenant Colonel Walsh from Homeland Defense. Both yourself and General Myers alluded to the global war on terrorism. You mentioned that in your opening remarks, about those efforts being made overseas.
Here in the homeland, U.S. territory, what do you envision to be the role of the U.S. military in its war against terrorism?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (To the general.) Dick, you want to --
GEN. MYERS: Well, I think the secretary covered a lot of that when he talked about the stand-up of Northern Command and so forth, because a lot of what the Department of Defense will do and what the military will do will be done through that new unified command.
And I don't -- you know, we've talked about the roles not fundamentally changing, that the military will be in support of -- the Department of Defense will be in support of some lead federal agency that will probably be working with state and local officials as well.
I think the things that we can bring to it -- what Northern Command can bring to it is a command that is focused on that mission and holistically focused on that mission, whether it's defense from cruise missiles on -- you know, from freighters, if that becomes a threat, or the air bridging threat, or the other kind of threats; that they've focused on this, that they established training standards, equipment needs, organized ourselves in the Guard and Reserve and active component to support these lead federal agencies.
And probably the most important thing we bring is the exercise role that I think the secretary mentioned, because this exercise that occurred just before their declaration of full operational capability the last -- 1 October here, just recently, really looked at all the scenes that might occur, as you probably know well, looked at all the places where the seams might occur between the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, the states and so forth, and even among our own services. And that's a terrific service, because we've got to all, you know, pull together if we're going to be successful in this mission. And I think that's what they bring to it. That would be my answer.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Question? Yes?
Q Good morning, Mr. Secretary, General. Captain Fisher from Headquarters Marine Corps, Division of Public Affairs. Gentlemen, in light of the recent media embed program, I'd like to know what your impressions were of that program and what you'd like to see done differently if we ever have to enact it again.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think it was a home run ball. I wish I'd thought of it. (Light laughter.)
But Torie Clark came to Dick Myers and me, and said that she thought this was something that we ought to do. And she had a very comprehensive way of doing it, approach. We did it. There were hundreds of them. And what they were able to do is they took these journalists who were willing to go out and serve on ships or with Special Operations teams or Army or Marine or Air Force elements, and they saw what was happening, and they reported it. They saw -- they didn't see the war in Iraq, what they saw was a slice of it; but what they saw was true, it was accurate, and they presented it. And when you multiply hundreds of those slices of truth, then the public was able to gather an impression about what was taking place.
The alternative to that is to have somebody back opining on what the totality of it meant. And this way, the American people actually could see all of those dozens and dozens and dozens, literally hundreds of slices of truth and watch it and come to their own judgment about what was taking place.
I think it was an excellent thing also for a totally different reason. You know, back in my day, back in the -- oh, gosh, in the '50s -- (laughter) -- I don't want to go back to the '30s! -- (laughter) -- in the '50s, a very large number of people served in the military -- men, for the most part -- and today a relatively small number of our total population serves in the military. And what these people saw was the military. And they're not military people, the embedded reporters. They were people who were specifically not in the military. They were active in journalism in one way or another. And they got to work and see what the young men and women in uniform do; how good they are, that they are the people from next door that they went to high school with; that they're honorable, that they're well- trained, that they're well-equipped.
And that's a wonderful thing. They'll carry that with them the rest of their lives and their careers as they go, in journalism, one way or another; they'll have that background and that experience that is so special and had an impact on them. You talk to them about it, and you can tell it had an impact on them. So I think it was a good thing during the conflict, and I also think it will be a good thing for this country over several decades going forward.
Yes? Way in the back.
Q My name is David Minyard. In this time of thanksgiving, I wanted to thank you, sir, and General Myers, for your courage, your commitment, being men of honor. I take care of the memorial downstairs in the building for the chaplain, and so every day, sometimes six days, seven days a week, I'm in there. And I've been there since April, volunteered to do the job. I'm just so thankful for you, sir, and your staff, and really just thanks for your commitment to make this place safe. Thank you, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you so very much. (Applause continuing.) Thank you for what you do.
Yes, Miss? Right there, in the center. Good.
Q Sir, hi. I'm Renee Stockholm from North Carolina. I have a twofold question. One is, I've been reading in the --
SEC. RUMSFELD: You should be in the press corps. (Laughter.)
Q I've been reading in the news media about Jessica Lynch and the fact that she was a prisoner -- not only was she a prisoner of war, but she was a prisoner of the military in the fact that we may have used her inappropriately by using cameras and things. And I was wondering if you could comment about that?
And my other comment is about what kind of indicators can you give us to let us know that we've actually won the war on terror? It sounds like the spread of democracy may be one indicator, but how can we be certain that we've won the war on terror?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (To General Myers) Do you want to take the --
GEN. MYERS: Well, I'll try on the Jessica Lynch. Obviously, everybody knows that the operation itself was documented, which is not unusual. It wasn't because of her or the -- it was just what they do from time to time. And I don't think that was used in any way that -- other than it was intended.
I think all the stories that have been -- have gone into hyperbole on this issue were actually generated by the media and others, not by the military. And I think the military spokesmen have been very matter of fact about this. So, that's the way I think that it really is.
SEC. RUMSFELD: On the second part, the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize; it's to -- it's to alter the behavior of people. And with free people, that is what we're about, is being free. And so terrorism strikes at the very heart of our system and our lives.
It seems to me the answer to your question is that success in the global war on terror is that we're not altering our behavior, that we're not fearful; that we have been sufficiently successful in going after the terrorists where they are and breaking up those cells, those networks, dealing with the countries effectively that harbor or provide haven for terrorists, find ways to dissuade and discourage and stop those who train and teach and fund terrorists. And that is not an easy task.
There's a great advantage that accrues to the attacker. A person can attack anytime, anywhere, using any technique. And you cannot -- it's physically impossible to defend everywhere at every moment against every technique, which means we have no choice but to go out and find the terrorists and to deal with them where they are, and particularly to deal with them before they, needless to say, have opportunities to kill another 3,000 innocent men, women and children in this country, and hundreds and thousands more across the world in Bali or Istanbul -- you name it, it's happening. We have to be able to find those people and stop them.
The other thing we have to do, it seems to me, is to engage in the battle of ideas and find ways to see that the number of people that are being drawn into that activity, that are being encouraged or funded or trained to kill people are reduced. And that's difficult to know precisely, how many are being trained and taught every year how to kill people and encouraged to do it, compared to the number that we're actually dissuading or capturing or killing.
But I think that we need to recognize that this is not something where there's going to be a signing ceremony on the USS Missouri and we can, you know, wipe our hands and say, "Well, we did that." This is something that's going to take time, that's going to affect all the countries of the world, in one way or another. And we're very fortunate to have a broad coalition of 90 nations helping.
But what it will look like, I think -- that is to say, what victory will look like, what the end of this will look like -- will be a return to a circumstance where people, when they walk out of the door, are not fear-filled. They're able to send their children to school and know they're going to come home. They're able to get on an airplane and not feel the feeling that Dick Myers mentioned most people feel, understandably so.
And it's the kind of a task, given the nature of human beings, I'm afraid, that we'll have to stay at for some period of time. If you think about it, we could almost say, "When we will not need policemen?" And I'm afraid there are going to be people that are going to be inclined to do damage to other human beings. And so, just as we need policemen in our own society, we're going to need to be able to deal with those people who are determined to go out and kill large numbers of innocent people.
STAFF: One more, sir. We'll take one more.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm told there's time for one more. Yes, sir?
Q Good morning, sir. Major Jackson, Pennsylvania Air National Guard. As I understand it, with the Total Force Structure, you don't totally agree with the "up and out" policy. But as a traditional guardsman --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, at 71, do you think I should agree with "up and out"? (Laughter, light applause.) I think it's a terrible policy!
Q Yet as a traditional guardsman that's looking into returning to active duty, the applicants are usually running into their promotability, rather than their leadership skills, their experience and their flying ability, trying to get back to another cockpit. Could you comment on how you think the Total Force Structure might be evolving to take this into account?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm going to let Dick comment on it. He's not my age, but he's getting close. (Laughter.)
My view on this subject broadly is that I think an awful lot of people in the Department of Defense serve too short a period in their posts. There are too many permanent changes of station. People go into positions and are not there long enough to make mistakes, figure them out, clean them up themselves. And there's too much punching tickets and stepping across the tops of the waves.
And I think, you know, in these important posts people can benefit by being in them for somewhat longer than they currently are. When I review promotions frequently in the officer element, I find that the average number of months in a position, once they finish training in their first two or three years in the service, the average number is something around 18, 17 months. Now, that's not very long. You do not get really good at something in 17 or 18 months.
Second, when a senior enlisted person comes up to me and says, "I want to get my going-away photo" -- and I say, "My goodness, how old are you?" And he says, "Forty-seven years old." And I said, "Well, what do you mean?" "Well," he said, "I'm up and out." And I said, "My goodness, I've got a daughter 48." Here he is at the top of his game, and he's out of the service.
I just can't imagine forcing people to do that. It's not that everybody ought to necessarily serve a longer period in a given post, and it's not that everybody would necessarily want to stay in the service longer, but it seems to me that we ought to have a sufficiently flexible set of personnel rules so that people can, if they would like to and if it's appropriate, stay somewhat longer in their tenure.
Do you want to comment?
GEN. MYERS: Well, I'll try, but I don't think I'm going to give you any satisfaction, because although I wear an Air Force uniform, probably the service I know the least about these days is the Air Force, because we deal -- I don't go to any Air Force meetings; I don't know what the issues are. So I don't think I can help you on the specific policy.
My guess is what's going on -- it's just a guess, and I'll talk to General Jumper about this, because he does live next door, but I'll -- (laughter). But it's probably an issue of supply and demand right now, which is different than it was three years ago, than it was six years ago and when I was working these sorts of issues in the Air Force structure. But I don't know specifically what the issues are, so -- but I'll check with my -- with the chief.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, have a good holiday. It's good to see you all. Thank you very much for all you do. We appreciate it.
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