United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability Enroute to Fort Irwin

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
August 29, 2005
Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability Enroute to Fort Irwin

            Rumsfeld: I'm going to meet with some troops there, and then we're going to San Diego, be there for the V-J day event the President will attend. Then I'll meet with some Navy SEALS and some candidates for Navy SEALS. People that are going through the process to determine whether they'll make it to become Navy SEALS.


            My dad was on a carrier in the Pacific during World War II and I was living there in Coronado, very close to North Island where we’re going to be. As a matter of fact I was selling newspapers on V-J day in 1945, in August. And the ferry. There used to be a ferry connecting San Diego to Coronado. There was no bridge. There’s a big bridge now, but in those days it was a ferry. The cars would line up waiting to get on the ferry going out and then people would come in the other way.


            So I'll respond to a couple of questions.


            Media: What are you going to do to make sure the Sunnis remain to feel involved in the political process. Is there a plan [inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: Well we and [inaudible] Department of State [inaudible] are obviously interested in seeing it be a success. I think it will end up being a success. As I said the other day in the press briefing, what you’ll end up with eventually will be a piece of paper that will not be perfect. No one will like it completely.  Everyone will be modestly dissatisfied. And yet people will end up accepting it as a compromise. And the Sunnis made a mistake when they didn’t participate in the last election. I doubt if they’ll keep making the same mistake over and over and over again. There are some Sunnis who stayed there and participated in the final aspects of it. Constitutions can always get amended. Ours has been amended. We were trying to reconstruct earlier, but our Constitution was drafted in 1787 and not ratified until 1788, and in some cases ‘89 even after Washington had already been inaugurated [inaudible], if I'm not mistaken. People disagree. Those are tough issues. And one ought not to be surprised that there’s some disagreement [inaudible].


            Media: Do you know [inaudible]? I understand everybody's not happy, but [inaudible] worried about [inaudible]? I assume it’s Sunnis that you’re worried about. What do you do to help them to convince them it’s a bad idea to cause more trouble in the country?


            Rumsfeld: The Iraqis are going to have an Iraqi solution. They’re going to have an Iraqi constitution. They’re going to find ways to live together. And the way they’re going to find to live together is going to be other than having a repressive dictator kill them if they don’t [inaudible]. And how will this sort out? Time will tell.




            Media: What do you see from people who have been there and are going back a second time.



            Rumsfeld: These folks know what they're doing. They know what's actually going on in that country. The folks that I talk to view this somewhat differently than the impression they get back here as to what’s going on there.  Overwhelmingly, they recognize the importance of what they were doing, what they will be doing.  [Inaudible].


            Media: Do you feel they need extra encouragement [Inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: What they do is appreciated by the American people.


            Media: Are these different circumstances[Inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: One thing that is worth talking to them about is the fact that this is a test of wills. They do see what's being said here in the United States. That has to affect or raise questions in their minds about the fact that it's a test of wills and that it's important that we win that test of wills. They know they're not going to lose battles or wars against these insurgents. That’s not the issue for them. It's dangerous, to be sure, the insurgents. But the real battle for [inaudible] is the test of wills. And the insurgents’ intention is to [inaudible] adversely affect free peoples way of living. 


            Media: [Inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: The test now is progress on the political front, and continuing to see the Iraqi security forces continue to improve and take over more and more responsibility. So the situation is, the political situation is, to the extent the political situation moves forward in an acceptable way, one would think the Iraqi people, would be less tolerant of insurgents. It becomes increasingly clear that the insurgents are killing Iraqis and fighting against the government of Iraqis, elected by Iraqis under the constitution provided by Iraqis. They don't have much of a case. They have foreign [inaudible] a foreign murderer [inaudible] that killed a bunch of Iraqis who are supporting a government elected by the Iraqi people. To the extent they [inaudible] based on that, this situation will focus more and more on supporting Iraqi security forces, and less on the suppressing insurgency itself.


            Media: Sir, back to the issues of the Sunnis. I know with Zarqawi [inaudible], but talk about the Sunnis and political progress and the Sunnis don’t feel part of that. Why would they turn away from the insurgency [inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: It's hard to tell. It's an answerable question. The Sunnis can be a part of it. All they have to do is be a part of it. They made a mistake once.  I doubt they will make the same mistake again. They have the same opportunity everyone else in the country does.


            Media: They could vote it down.


            Rumsfeld: They're not going to vote it down. They don’t have the votes. [Inaudible].


            Media: Even though the polls show that 80 percent will vote [inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: That’s three provinces.


            Media: Aren’t they the majority in three provinces.


            Rumsfeld: They're not going to get 2/3 of three provinces, I don’t believe.


            Media: [Inaudible] right now in Iraq there are large numbers of National Guard. [inaudible] from the Gulf Coast region. Is DoD going to backfill and help out with this hurricane.


            Rumsfeld: The figures I looked at this morning, and as I recall the states have, states that could conceivably be in the path, had anywhere from 55 to 90 percent, 92 percent of their forces in the state. We do move people between states. We do that. We’ve done that for firefighting and various things [inaudible].  I don’t believe that I’ve heard of a single state that has been disadvantaged because of that.  The guard has been activated under state authority in a number of states, and they’re doing a good job, from everything I’ve been told. Other guard and active forces have been on, have been constantly ready to be helpful in a variety of different ways [inaudible] medical attention and various other types of assistance.


            Media: Is any of that going on?


            Rumsfeld: I’m sure it is. I just haven’t..we’ve been on the plane, but I saw the preparations.


            Media: [inaudible] on BRAC. [inaudible] to not close some of the larger bases [inaudible].


            Rumfeld:  It took two and a half years to prepare all that and then to certify the data. The commission has made some changes to what was proposed, which is the way the statute is written. They did the same thing on each of the four previous ones.  Made some changes. We’ve got our people analyzing what they’ve proposed. Some of it’s difficult to understand.  Some of it’s not even written yet. The elaboration of what they think they’ve decided has not yet been examined. As soon as we have all that information, our folks will give me a briefing as to what the effect of it all we be. Then we’ll know. I’ve talked to [inaudible] one of the experts at the Pentagon on this subject, and he said at a first look most likely might have changed 15-20% and that that would be roughly the amount of savings [inaudible]. However, when you add in the savings from overseas global posture changes, the savings are quite substantial. 




            Obviously, they approached it very differently than we did.


            Media: From a readiness perspective as opposed to a cost-savings perspective [inaudible]


            Rumsfeld: Military value was our principle. They seem to have put a much heavier weight on economic impact than military value. [Inaudible] We’ll just have to see what it looks like when I get back, get briefed up and then make a decision [inaudible], but basically it looks like percentage-wise [inaudible] earlier BRAC. The difference being that they started out with a much-larger BRAC.


            Media: Can we go back to Iraq for a second [Inaudible]. They need a better plan or strategy.  Are you satisfied with the strategy.


            Rumsfeld: You know, the world isn’t static, it's dynamic. Anyone whose involved with these things knows that the enemy has brains and they’re constantly adjusting, adapting for what's taking place on the ground. So do our forces adapt and adjust to what's taking place on the ground. That means that anyone involved generally can analyze what's taking place and how one might adapt more rapidly and anticipate and be more effective. Our forces are doing that. They have been doing that. Obviously the folks in Washington do that constantly. They interact with Abizaid and Casey and Vines and other people involved on a continuing basis.


            The notable thing about people who keep saying there should be a new strategy or a new plan is that they don’t have one.  It’s a tough world. It’s a tough part of the world. I guess there's never been a war in the history of our country where people weren’t saying things like that, and where people weren't pessimistic and critical and frustrated. I guess that goes with the territory.


            Media: What do you think the United States is doing best over there and where do you think you could be doing better?


            Rumsfeld: [inaudible] they're growing pretty fast.


            The knowledge that our forces are gaining by virtue of the fact that they're embedding with Iraqi security forces is just multiple [inaudible]. The difference is dramatic. We know almost in real time [inaudible] equipment, [inaudible], logistics, relationships, [inaudible]. They're able to feed that information back and get directive action taken to strengthen the capabilities and competence of those Iraqi units.


            Media: Can you talk about the insurgency in general? I think what it is, what we call it [inaudible] elements, [inaudible] terrorists. What we’ve learned about it. What worries you with what we don't know about the makeup [inaudible]? What's going on there [inaudible]?


            Rumsfeld: Well, I’ve talked about this many times [inaudible].


            Media: I know, but [Inaudible] more difficult [inaudible]? you don't want to [inaudible], there will be more [inaudible]. Is it a classic insurgency. You’ve got the terrorist and the homegrown insurgents.


            Rumsfeld: It’s a mixture of things. There are terrorists involved, there are insurgents involved. [Inaudible]. In the last analysis they are functioning in an environment of the Iraqi population, and that population wants more autonomy. [inaudible]. The insurgency fails. [Inaudible].


            Media: [Inaudible]?


            Voice: Thanks, folks.


            Rumsfeld: You bet.

Additional Links

Stay Connected