GEN. MYERS: Well, good afternoon --
SEC. RUMSFELD: (How did you people find ?) this place? (Laughter.)
GEN. MYERS: We don't even know where we are, the way they led us down here. This is -- first of all, I think it's appropriate, as we approach this weekend, to wish everybody a happy 4th of July.
You know, what's interesting -- it's really a remarkable holiday. That's the day we say this nation was born. But it wasn't the day of the last battle that gave us our independence or some other battle in history. We picked the day that we announced to the world what we stand for as Americans. It's an interesting way to look at it and, I think, an appropriate way. I think it has a lot of meaning, given that we had to fight for seven more years before we really got our independence; a lot of meaning to what the American spirit is all about; particularly the spirit of the men and women in the Department of Defense. We are used to defending this country's freedoms.
The best part about being a member of the armed forces and, I think, the reason we're held in high regard, not only around this world and in this country, but just everywhere we go -- Iraq, Afghanistan -- is that we bring a great fighting spirit to whatever we do. We can be very violent when violence is required. We can also be very compassionate when that is required. And I am just awestruck by the way our men and women conduct themselves around the world. Whether they're 19 years old or 59 years old, when they're in the field, doing what they do, they do such a terrific job, and they bring all of America's values with them as they do it.
I think it's important for the folks that are listening out there on the other end of this tether, in some foreign land, perhaps, is that the folks back here in America really appreciate what you're doing for the defense of this country. I think they grasp that. (Applause.) And I think they need to know that overseas.
Now, the hardest part of what I've got to do: I've got to introduce our Secretary of Defense. I have tried many different ways to do this. Most of them have failed. I made fun of his naval aviation career, and he pointed out that he indeed has landed on a ship, and all I've done is land on 12,000-foot runways. Fair enough. (Laughter.) Fair enough.
I'm not going to use the other one I used. It was not one he liked -- well, actually, I talked about him being the secretary of Defense in two different centuries. (Laughter.) It was not one of his favorite introductions, he told me later. (Laughter.)
I will say the first time he was sworn in as secretary of Defense, there was no PowerPoint, there were no BlackBerries, and there were no 24-hour cable news channels. My guess is, it must have been a piece of cake in those days -- (laughter) -- because they haven't made life any easier for us.
On a serious note, I have said this before, and I'll say it again: that this is a nation -- and our friends and allies -- that face a very serious threat. And when that's the case -- perhaps the most serious threat we've ever faced to our way of life and our -- freedoms that we hold dear -- when that's the case, you want the smartest, toughest person around to help lead you through that.
There is nobody that cares more about this nation's security or about the people that are helping provide that security than our secretary of Defense. Without further ado, our secretary, Don Rumsfeld. (Applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Please, be seated. Thank you. Thank you so much. And welcome to all of you and to the men and women who are all across the globe joining us on the Pentagon Channel and watching this town hall session.
My friend Dick Myers, thank you very much for both your kind words but also for your superb service to the United States of America over so many decades. We are very much in your debt.
We thank you for coming. Independence Day certainly offers all Americans an opportunity to reflect on the truly daring efforts of our country's founders. They defied the expectations of skeptics, they cast off tyranny, and they built a free system of government.
Historian/author David McCullough recently reflected on what might have become of our country had the country faced the media realities that Dick Myers was talking about back in 1776. And he -- he noted the setbacks that the Continental Army faced, and he said, "If the American Revolutionary War had been covered by the media and the country had seen how horrible conditions were and what a very serious soup we were in, I think that would have been it." But it is a different world we're living in, and it's important that we understand it and that we adapt to it. But Americans succeeded back then because they marshalled the will and the resolve to see that difficult effort through -- and it was difficult. And the skeptics who were certain it wouldn't work were proven wrong.
I was thinking about this the other day as we prepared to update the Congress on the situation in Iraq. General Myers and General Abizaid and General Casey and I went up. I think we were there for some nine and a half hours testifying. We've heard and seen a good deal about how difficult things have been in Iraq. And it has been difficult, to be sure. There are many extremists in the world who want democracy to fail in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. I suppose that, lacking any other context, much of the world sees the daily volume of violence and the headlines on television and the graphic pictures, and they have to wonder whether the fight is worth the cost, or if the coalition is losing in Iraq.
However different the circumstances between America in 1776 and today in Iraq, they do demonstrate the difficulty of trying to judge a conflict based on circumstances at any given moment. If the last impression you saw is your conclusion about things, why, we'd be just going from this to that with oscillations all day long. Balanced assessments certainly require time, they require patience, and they require perspective.
Think about the short-sighted predictions that have been made during prior conflicts in our history. During the Civil War, for example, the Union Army suffered one bloody defeat after another in the summer before the 19 -- correction, 1864 elections. Editorialists harshly criticized the general, Ulysses S. Grant, but his strategy ultimately led to victory on the battlefield and the preservation of our country. President Harry Truman ended his administration with some of the lowest approval ratings any president's ever had. He was down at 23 percent when he left office. And today he's widely admired for having put in place policies and institutions that really helped to rebuild Europe and that contained communists -- communism over so many decades.
And during the 1980s millions of people in the United States and Europe demonstrated against President Reagan's national security policies, policies opposed by many so-called opinion leaders in this country and around the world who favored a different sort of accommodation with the Soviet Union. It even became a fad of sorts to blame America for being uncompromising in that administration, uncompromising with the Soviets. Think of how differently history views those conflicts today, and consider what the world would look like if America had not sent its best men and women to defend freedom abroad. And think what would happen if America failed today to help the Afghans and the Iraqis defeat the terrorists that are seeking to rule those countries.
Now, make no mistake, the enemies we face in Iraq today come from the mold similar to those who killed 3,000 people on September 11th, and many of those worked here in this building. Indeed, al Qaeda operatives are among those fighting in Iraq today. They call murder martyrdom, and they call bin Laden their leader. These extremists have made plain their intention to kill Westerners, moderate Muslims as well. They have access to money, they have access to weapons, and they are seeking even more dangerous weapons. And have no doubt, if we do not battle them and defeat them in Iraq, we will most certainly have to face them again here at home in a very different circumstance.
Each of you, military and civilians, here in this building and elsewhere across the globe, are playing important roles in this fight. Those of you that work in the Pentagon are tackling tasks that make this department run, tasks which are essential to supporting the truly outstanding troops that we have serving our country. Those troops and their families are showing every day that the spirit of July 4th is as strong today as it was in 1776.
A few years ago, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was here in the United States and he addressed a Joint Session of the United States Congress. He told Americans that it was up to us, quote, "to bequeath to this anxious world the light of liberty." He said, quote, "I know it's hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happy, minding his own business, saying to the political leaders of the country, 'Why me?' and 'Why us?' and 'Why America?'" And he went on to say that the only answer is because "Destiny put you in this place in history at this moment, in this time, and the task is yours to do."
There are some who approach this Independence Day concerned about America and its place in the world. Now, I'm not one who gets up every morning and -- looking for ways to prove that America is what's wrong with the world. America isn't what's wrong with the world, and let there be no doubt. And deep down, I know that most people in the world know that. Consider the millions who have risked their lives escaping other countries to try to come to our shores seeking safety, seeking opportunity, in many cases seeking citizenship. Or the pro- democracy students who stood defiantly before tanks in Tiananmen Square, holding up their own Statue of Liberty, and holding up copies of the Declaration of Independence. The 16 million Iraqis and Afghans who voted in their countries' truly historic elections, exercising freedoms that Americans have helped bring to others for generations.
America still remains what President Lincoln called "the last best hope on earth." And certainly on this coming Independence Day, reflect on how truly fortunate each of us is to be able to live in this blessed country, the United States. And most of all, we all should pause and remember and honor all of those who are undertaking the truly noble work of preserving our freedom. We are deeply in their debt.
Now with that, Dick Myers and I would be delighted to respond to some questions. (Laughter.) Now we've had a long week. And Dick's a lot younger than I am, so if you have a tough one, throw it to General Myers. (Laughter.) If you have a soft ball, just tee it up for me. (Laughter.)
Yes, sir? Do we have some mikes you're going to pass around? I guess they're passing it there. Oh, good. Thanks.
Q Mr. Secretary, my name is Master Sergeant Shaeffer (sp). I work in the Army Operations Center, down on the CAT floor. One of the things we do every day is track all the incidents that happen in the theater of war and clean the names of all of our casualties and, you know, track their funerals and handle them with the utmost and deep respect.
One of the things that we always find very discouraging down there is that the press likes to report all the numbers of our casualties, whether they're combat or heart attacks or the rare occasional suicide, or vehicle accidents or whatever, in their total numbers. And now they're even starting to include Iraqi casualties in their numbers also.
How do we (combat ?) that kind of a press and really get out the story that when an Iraqi police department gets blown up with an IED and kills 50 new recruits, that the very next day there's 150 new recruits in line to replace them?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you're certainly correct, the Iraqi people have demonstrated an enormous amount of courage, and they risk assassination, they risk threats to their families and they sign up in large numbers to become members of the Iraqi security forces, to their great credit. They've lost something in excess of 2,000 over the past year, I believe; security forces have, to say nothing of the civilian Iraqis that have been killed. So they are demonstrating that they want to take back their country, and that's a good thing.
I have no good answer for why the impression is so different between those that are on the ground in Iraq and what they see and what the impression left here is. I suppose it's much more dramatic to show a car bomb than it is to show all the schools that are open, all the hospitals that are open, all the people that are finding economic opportunities in those countries. I mean, you go into Afghanistan, for example, and just see the tremendous economic activity that's taking place in those places.
So what's being accomplished is significant. I believe we're going to see that Afghanistan will stay on this path of a democratic system. And I believe that Iraq -- the Iraqi people will ultimately defeat that insurgency over time as their political situation evolves and they have a constitution and they have an election under that constitution and the Iraqi people decide that that's the future for that country and that it's a good future and that that piece of paper called a constitution can protect them from each other, which is a big step for a country that has no experience with democracy.
And I suppose what we'll do is this will all happen despite the fact that the impression so many people have as a result of reading and watching television is quite to the contrary. But I think that we'll continue to have a good pattern of success.
GEN. MYERS: There is, I think, and you probably know this -- well, first of all, we ought to recruit you for Public Affairs or -- (laughter) -- let you try your skills out.
But there is, of course, an unclassified website, the DOD website, where we do list all the casualties by category and so forth, that's there for the world to see. And it's posted based on information you feed us, which is -- anybody can go there, media, others, and then we pass out fact sheets a lot. Trying to get -- trying to get the word out and portrayed appropriately.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Questions?
Q Hi. My name's Major Larry Smith. I work in the NMCC in the Joint Staff response zone and help create your operations overview every morning, so it's an honor to speak to you.
I've had a suggestion that's been gnawing away at me for about a year, and it's just this: real quickly, by background -- when I played high school football, the coach would make us run laps. And we came back, and he'd say, "Is anybody tired?" If anybody said yes, he'd say, "It means we're not fit. We got to go again." And then after a while, we knew what the right response was, and then he'd raise the bar. If you looked tired, you had to run again. (Light laughter.)
And it just occurred to me with hostage policy that when Japan or the Philippines had somebody hostage-taken, and they tell their government, unless you pull out your 1,000 troops, we're going to kill this guy, I've always wanted somebody to say back to them, "I'll tell you what. If you just let him go, we won't change anything. But if you hurt the hostage in any way, we're going to raise our troops to 1,500 or to 1,600," and have a public, symbolic increase in troops and take the initiative back. And so I think that would be a good suggestion. Little reverse -- (laughter, applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I certainly agree that -- (laughter) -- that the idea of accommodating hostage-takers or terrorists is a dead end, and it just -- you know, in life, if you want more of something reward it. And if you want less of it, penalize it. And to start rewarding hostage-takers and people who have cut off people's heads is a terrible idea.
And I must say, when I look around the world and I see someone like Prime Minister Howard of Australia, who -- a hostage was taken, and he stood up and said no way, we will not acquiesce in the demands of the hostage takers. It takes a lot of courage and there are a lot of critics who disagree with that. But the signal that sends around the world is a wonderful signal.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q Mr. Secretary, as you know, this is the Pentagon's first- ever worldwide town hall meeting. During the past week, military members and civilians from around the world have had the opportunity to submit questions via the Web for you and the chairman to answer today. Many are now watching live on the Pentagon Channel and on the Web. Sir, I have one of those questions submitted by the Web for you.
An Air Force Major in Germany writes in, "Mr. Secretary, what is the latest development on extending the careers of officers who otherwise have to retire?"
SEC. RUMSFELD: At what age?
I don't believe in early retirement. I can't afford to.
We have -- people are living longer. We know that. And I think that one of the things just breaks my heart is to have a 48-, 49-, 50- year-old person walk up and say, I've just completed 30 years, and I'm out. It's up and out. And here they are, the best and the brightest and the most talented, and terrific at what they do. And if they want to go, that's their right. That's fine. But if they would prefer to stay, we ought to find ways to do that. And we've got David Chu and the services looking at ways that we can find opportunities for people who do prefer to stay, because we do need the wonderful experience that they have and the talents they have. And it would include not just officers, I think he said, but officers and enlisted both.
This one's for Dick Myers. I can tell.
Q Scott Bennett (sp). First, Mr. Secretary, I wanted to say the good people of America are praying for you and for the general and for our beloved president, and we will be victorious. My question is around the area of PSYOPS. And it seems like, as you've accurately stated, you've got radicals and moderates. And I'm wondering, what are we doing to recruit the brainpower in the American advertising or other advertising areas to get creative ideas out there, get billboards, get flyers, get skywriting, get everything that we need to do to get the ideas out there that martyrdom does not equal a free ticket to heaven, and to begin to separate the people who can cast doubt on the structure really think, well, I'd better not blow myself up because this cult is not really the truth. And if -- it would just seem like if we really press that, we can -- we can separate them easier for the snipers, et cetera.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, Dick, you may want to comment on this as well, but it is -- it is not something we do very well in our country. One of the problems is, of course, anytime any of us speak, we're speaking to multiple audiences. For me to talk to you ends up being also talking to the world. And in terms of our population, it's foreign populations, it's the enemy, it's potential recruits who might want to join, it's people who are debating whether they should be retained, why would they want to stay in. And so, it's all these multiple audiences. And we have an aversion in our country of having propagandizing take place by public officials in government. And that's understandable.
On the other hand, your point is so enormously important. This battle is being taken -- is taking place on the battlefield, to be sure. It's also being -- it's a battle of wills. It's a battle of resolve. And it's a -- everything is more difficult to the extent that the countries in the region are not friendly. To the extent they are friendly, everything's easier. And we have to find better ways, the 21st century ways, to do a much better job of communicating with the world. And I know that there's an effort underway in government to do that, and to find a way to do it that's consistent with our values and our principles so that we don't end up in one way or another taking taxpayers' dollars and then being accused of having those dollars being used to propagandize our own people, which is something we ought not to do. I think we've got to figure out ways to be much more creative in using the multiple channels that are now available to communicate for people. I mean, the --
If you think about it, this is the first war in the history of the world that's been conducted in an era when you have satellite news, you have digital cameras, you have talk radio, you've got bloggers, you've got the Internet, you've got emails, that all of these things where people instantaneously are talking to each other in a variety of different ways. We're still pretty much in the Industrial Age in terms of how we do things.
And on the other hand, we are using reward programs, there's a new tip program, for example, in Iraq, where they've advertised a number, and people can call in -- Iraqis can call in anonymously and provide information to Iraqi security forces or coalition forces and give them ideas as to where terrorists might be. So there are things going on, but unfortunately, it's a very slow process, I'm afraid.
GEN. MYERS: I would not use the word "psychological operations." That's usually how we try to influence the adversary. I think -- I think more broadly we want to talk about strategic communications, and particularly the public diplomacy part of that. And the secretary has just led us through, and now it's been adopted by the U.S. government, is a new strategy and way ahead on the war on terrorism, and it has the same elements, but different things under the elements. And it's defense here at home and for our friends and allies. It's offense, which there has to be. But the more important thing, and the thing that will take longer, is to change the environment where you don't have men and women wanting to join jihad. The best way that message can be delivered is not by the United States of America, but by moderate Muslims around the world. And how we facilitate that, and so forth, is a matter of the strategy.
But I think you're exactly right. And I would give us a grade. I think up till now, our ability to do that -- influence strategic communications -- is a D-minus. And -- but we have A-plus capability, and we've got to harness it. And it's part of harnessing all our instruments of national power. This is -- I mean, we can kill the adversary for a long time, and we're pretty darn good at it. But that's not going to solve the long problem. But we have a strategy to address it right along the lines that you said.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Questions?
Yes? Are there any questions back here? There's one. We'll come to you in a minute there. (Laughter.)
You always want to be nice to the folks behind you!
GEN. MYERS: Yeah!
Q Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary, General Myers. My name is Fred Newhart. I work for OPNAV as a resource officer. As we're finalizing the '07 budget, we're almost getting the ink signed on that and we're getting ready for '08. I know myself, and most of my counterparts in the other services, every year we -- you know, we're trying to get the best technology, the best equipment out to our soldiers and sailors out on the frontline. And yet every year -- this is my fourth cycle -- we're getting dramatic cuts in the amount of money that we have to do that. Unfortunately, the technology and equipment keeps going up. At some point in time, we're going to end up killing programs that would benefit the soldiers and sailors.
And I was just wondering if you have thoughts on that, sir? Is this a continuing trend, or are we finally going to end up getting to a point where, you know, we stop and we start getting the money that we really need to try and get this equipment?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, that's a hard question to answer. I just don't know enough about your personal circumstance and what you're seeing and what trend lines you're looking at, or why.
I do know that from -- on a macro basis, this department is receiving something like a half a trillion dollars a year. That is an enormous amount of money that the taxpayers and the Congress and the president have decided ought to be invested in the single-most important thing we do, and that's provide for the security of our country.
It is not a matter of being short of funds at a half a trillion dollars a year, if one looks around the globe at other countries' investments and the like, it is a matter of allocation, and that means that there's constantly going -- resources, no matter what the level is, are going to be finite. There's going to be some number, and that's it. It happens it's in the neighborhood of a half a trillion dollars a year, which is an enormous amount of money. Then the question is what do you do with it? And that's a competition of ideas, it's an allocation -- set of allocation issues.
And I just cannot accept that there is a money problem. The problem I would characterize it, given our circumstance, I would characterize it as a persuasion problem. In other words, if these things are competing against each other, then -- and they're not properly allocated, then someone who's more persuasive for something that is less important, or the power of the lobby for it, I should say maybe, in the Congress or in the industry, or something, is a part of the issue. But we certainly ought to be smart enough and wise enough to allocate the resources here and go up to the Congress and say, Here's how we believe it ought to be spent.
We've got a phrase we use around here. I don't use it, but others do. There's a couple of phrases that I have trouble with. One is "requirement". I think of it as an appetite. (Laughter.)
The second phrase we have is "high demand, low density". Now, I think of that as we bought the wrong things. (Laughter.) It's a -- it is a world class baloney phrase: high demand, low density. It just means we didn't do our jobs well. That's what it means. So do your job better. (Laughter, applause.)
Q (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Just kidding. (Laughter.) Don't give him the mike. (Laughter.)
STAFF: Behind you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Behind me. Yes. Better make it good. (Laughter.)
Q Hi. My name is Kirk Marshal (sp). I'm a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and I'm interning here at the Pentagon. And as someone who's about to graduate from college and become an independent citizen, what can I do to help support the effort on the global war on terrorism and to support the Department of Defense in various ways?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've got a couple of ideas, and then Dick can do clean-up. (Laughter.)
The first thing you can do is go to the website that President Bush mentioned last night on television, which is AmericaSupportsYou.mil, and you will find dozens and dozens of ways that you can be supportive of the troops. The second thing you can do is enlist. (Laughter, applause.) And if you're not inclined to enlist, you could become a Department of Defense civilian. (Applause.) And if you're not inclined to do that, you can -- you can devote your life to public service in some way or another, at whatever level. (Applause.) And then, of course, there's -- I think there's a real need -- well, you know we're all in this together in this country, and with our friends and allies. And so if you decide to go into business, be the best darn businessman you can be with great integrity and help provide the economic base for other things this country needs to do.
So there's -- you can serve in lots of ways. I like the enlistment, frankly, I think that’s a… (Laughter, applause.)
STAFF: Mr. Secretary, I have another question for you from the Web, from a National Guard member stationed in Japan: Does the United States plan to maintain bases in Iraq after the majority of troops have been withdrawn?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The answer is we have no plans to do so. The issue would be a function of the new government. In other words, the current leaders of transitional government, they are drafting a constitution. They will then have a referendum on the constitution in October. They then will have an election under the approved constitution, assuming it's approved, in December. Then you will have an Iraqi government that would be in a position to decide how it wanted to manage its security affairs. And they, then, would engage, just as Afghanistan did -- came to President Bush and said, We would like to have you maintain some military presence to help us with our defense establishment, to help train and equip our people, and to get us on a path so that we can provide for our own security. And the president said we would be willing to try to work out arrangements to do that in some way. But we've not gotten to that issue, anywhere close to that, with the Iraqi government, and would not until it was created -- elected.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary, General Myer --
SEC. RUMSFELD: General Myers.
Q General Myers. (Laughter.) You talked earlier about people who think that America's what's wrong with the world. That's of course a basic part of the extremist propaganda message. And it worries me that democracies are kind of -- it kind of scares me that democracies are susceptible to that way of thinking, because we're self-critical. If you think back to the '20s and '30s in Europe, the British and French became convinced that the Nazis' grievances against them were legitimate. And when the time came to enforce the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and to save Czechoslovakia, they were crippled by self-doubt, and instead of doing the right thing, they let their policy be guided by what might not -- what might or might not make the Nazis angrier.
What can we do, as citizens and as a department, to make sure that self-criticism doesn't turn into a paralyzing degree of self- doubt?
SEC. RUMSFELD: That is a very useful thought and an important question. You know, I have so much confidence in the American people. You watch over the decades -- a lot of decades, in my case -- and you -- (chuckles) -- (laughter) -- confession's good for the soul. (Laughter.)
Everyone knows what a gyroscope is. It seems to me they have an inner gyroscope, the American people do, and it can get pushed off to the side. And then it rights itself. It corrects. There's a self- correcting there.
And there's no question but that people, in a sweep of emotion, can lean to one place. But their center of gravity is good. They're rooted, and they come back.
And I just have enormous confidence in the American people that -- if you think about it this way, we have staked everything on the idea that people, given sufficient information -- accurate information; inaccurate information; good, positive things; terribly negative, worrisome things -- people, given sufficient information, will find their way to reasonably right decisions over time. They may move off for a period, but they'll come back.
And I guess all we can do, all you can do, all I can do is to continually look for people who will stand up and tell the truth; who will be willing to defend people who deserve to be defended, to criticize people who deserve to be criticized; and to constantly try to get our eyes up off our shoelaces and look out at the horizon on things that are important and lasting, as opposed to being swept away by the emotions of the moment.
Q (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
You do this, Dick.
GEN. MYERS: No matter what the question?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No matter what the question is, it's yours. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. Secretary and General Myers, the recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of private contractors that DOD has used, and I want to know if you see a difference -- an inherent difference in our need and the firms' ability to address that need between logistic contractors and actual military or security contracting firms.
GEN. MYERS: That's a little abstract for me, but I've -- seen a difference between two types or contractors or -- I haven't, but then, you know, what I see are results in the field. And what I do know is that we have relied very heavily, because a long time ago we decided to, quote, "outsource" a lot of our capability, and so we rely quite heavily on the private sector and on contractors to do a lot of the work. And whether it's logistics in Iraq or logistics in Afghanistan, or it's think tank sort work and analysis that has to go on here in Washington or other major command headquarters, I think we get great service out of these folks.
I've just -- I've had some farewell sessions that I'm doing on the Joint Staff, and I -- and we've included everybody on the Joint Staff, to include the contractors that we work with every day, that have cubicles, sit with us. And some of the best feedback is from some of those folks -- I mean, the sense of responsibility they have for the mission almost indistinguishable between those uniformed people or people that are Department of Defense civilians.
So I think we've done a pretty good job. As testimony to this and on the logistics side, General McCaffrey just went, at General Abizaid's behest, into Iraq to look at the situation. One of his observations when he came back was that our troops in the field are being treated very, very well in terms of, if you will, creature comforts. Of course, one of the reasons for that is that we've contracted a lot of that out. And so the meals, the ability to -- for showers and all those sorts of things and living conditions, considering their circumstances, are actually most places pretty good. At least that was General McCaffrey's observations and mine as well.
So I don't know if I can answer you directly. I -- but I think I've probably touched on some of the issues you have.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Questions?
STAFF: Sir, we have one -- time for one last question. (Pause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Who decides how much time we have? (Laughter, applause.)
GEN. MYERS: I think he does.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You want to ask it so badly, it scares me to death. (Laughter.) Anyone -- wait a minute, wait a minute! Anyone that eager is going to be a problem. So that's not the last question. There's going to be one after that -- (laughter) -- so that we can kind of clean up after -- (laughter) -- yes, ma'am? Yes?
Q Sir, this is for you, Mr. Secretary. I'm an active-duty lieutenant colonel, divorced, full custody of two small children. My ex-husband resigned from the military because it wasn't lucrative enough for him.
During our marriage, our nine years together, he tripled his income due to the support I provided him while he went to school full- time. And by the way, I supported a family with my military paycheck.
Now I'm living with a divorce decree that not only directs me to provide a large chunk of my retirement pay to him; it also directs me to start paying him upon reaching 20 years in service, whether I choose to retire at 20 years or not. This is forcing me out of the military next year. I can't afford to write a paycheck -- write a check to my ex-husband every month out of my military pay. By the way, he makes thousands and thousands of dollars more than I do.
This is a result of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. I'm not the only one affected by this injustice. There are many other injustices that have been imposed on military members for years.
Sir, we are your supporters, some of your biggest supporters in this country, and we would like to get support from our leadership as well.
SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a --
Q And so --
SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a statute, the --
GEN. MYERS: Right. It's a law.
SEC. RUMSFELD: A law.
GEN. MYERS: In the past.
Q Sir. Yes, sir. Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, which, sir, I was told that you supported.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've never heard of it. (Laughter.)
Q And, sir, as you may know, or may not know, the divorce rate in the military is much higher than it is in the civilian sector, and it is growing. And --
SEC. RUMSFELD: When did this law go into effect?
Q Oh, sir, people have been trying to fight this for 20 years.
GEN. MYERS: Yes, it's old. It's a couple -- it's at least 15, 20 years it's been around, right? Ten, 15, 20 years?
Q Well, before I came into the military, sir.
GEN. MYERS: Right.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I'll be happy to have David Chu look at it. I'm just not knowledgeable, I'm afraid, about it.
Q Okay, well --
GEN. MYERS: It was different -- actually, it was created, I think, in different times. I think was part of the mindset when spouses were normally women --
GEN. MYERS: -- and when they probably did not work, and when --
Q But sir, even --
GEN. MYERS: Yeah. So it needs to be looked at. I think the secretary's idea is a good idea.
Q May I say one more thing, please, sir? I know that it was set for a much earlier generation. But I will say that since I've been in the military, since August of 1986, everywhere I've been stationed, and Germany included, even female spouses have had opportunities for jobs, given preference for government jobs, had opportunities for education beyond high school. There's always some sort of college program.
So although you may look and this may sound a little bit shocking to you because now there's a woman having to pay an ex-husband who makes just a lot more money than a lot of us in this room, this is an issue that is not a gender issue, it is a military service member issue. And, frankly, we need some support, and we'd like for you to support change or congressional amendment to the current act and actually help promote it, because we can't get a congressman or anybody to touch this.
SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll have David Chu take a look at it. Thank you.
Q Thank you, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I am very glad I had a notion -- (laughter.) I've been around long enough to feel it coming. (Laughter.)
Thank you, seriously. We'll have David Chu look.
Where was that question, right there?
We need a mike.
Q Mr. Secretary, General Myers, I'm Mike -- Chief Mike Aspretto (ph). I'm the in-house recruiter for the Air Force, keeping the peace between Air Staff --
Yes, sir, I'm going to get to him in a minute. (Laughter, applause.)
Sir, my job is to keep the peace between Air Staff and Recruiting Service, which can be a challenge at times. And we can hook up later. I got a job right -- lined up for you already. (Laughter.) Sir --
Q (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
Q Sir, I have a question for either one of you that would like to answer it in regards to the challenges that Recruiting Service and all the services are facing, some services more than others, in today's environment. What can the Department of Defense do to help us do our job better?
GEN. MYERS: I think a lot of it has been -- we're going through a list of good ideas. And let's talk about recruiting and not retention, because I think as most people know, retention is very good in both active and reserve components. That's not the issue. The issue is recruiting, and not particularly in your service, but in the Army and in the Army Reserve components.
Bonuses. I think enlistment bonuses today, for the Army at least, range between $5,000 and $20,000 to enlist. Educational benefits for those eligible have gone from, I think, $50,000 to $70,000. So there are things being tried. Plus, I think all the services, if you combine them all -- and the reserve components -- have added thousands of recruiters, and you know that, and at least how it affects you in the Air Force. That's part of what we can do. I think another part of what can be done is what the president of the United States did last night, our commander in chief. And he talked about the nobility of wearing this uniform and serving your country, and I think that's an important message, and particularly when your nation is being challenged. So senior leaders need to talk out, not just our commander in chief, but all of us. And I think we try to do that. And we can do more.
I think the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandmothers and grandfathers out there, and the brothers and sisters, need to understand and remind ourselves one more time, particularly as we approach the Fourth of July weekend, what we stand for in this country; that our freedoms are dear; that there's always been people that are willing to stand up and defend those freedoms. And it's as important today as it's ever been, perhaps more important. And it's a noble thing that we do.
And I think that's how we have -- this has been worked very hard. It will continue to be worked hard. I will tell you that for the month of June, United States Army active recruiting is over 100 percent of its goal, which is a turnaround from where they've been in the last several months. So there's a bit of good news in here. We'll see how it works out the rest of the year.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Have a wonderful Fourth of July. (Applause.)
(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED. UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES. FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.