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Rumsfeld Media Availability at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 29, 2002

(Media availability at the U.S. Air Force Academy)

Rumsfeld: Thank you. He's got better control of this crowd than I do with the Pentagon group, I'll tell you. Good morning. This is always an exciting time, graduation day, and I'm just delighted to be here. My wife went to school in Boulder just a few years ago, 1950 to '54, and we love the state, and we're glad to be here. And I'll be happy to respond to some questions.

Staff: Yes, sir. We have the first question here from The Gazette.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: Hi. Raquel Rutledge with The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Rumsfeld: Umm hmm.

Q: What I wanted to know from you is if you could tell us how the service academies might need to adjust their curriculum, or their training of the cadets, specifically the Air Force Academy, if you could speak to that, in order to prepare for the war on terrorism. And do you feel like they are prepared right now for this war?

Rumsfeld: Well, you know, life is so dynamic and the world changes so rapidly. You know, change in the last century was measured in decades, and in this century, it's really going to be measured in years. I have a friend named Gordon Moore, who fashioned "Moore's Law" back about 1960. He was -- founded Intel. And he said that computer power would double every year to 18 months back in the early 1960s, and sure enough, it has. And the revolution in miniaturization has just changed so many things.

But one example is, I know that the -- all the academies and the military schools are looking at the languages they're teaching, for example. If you think of the demographic shifts in the globe that have taken place since these academies -- or just in the last 30, 40, 50 years, the languages that need to be taught are somewhat different from the old Romance languages that were taught when I was in school, as one example.

Umm hmm?

Staff: Second question here, please.

Q: When I was coming up, I ran into a cadet, and I was asking him -- I said, "What would you want to ask the secretary?" He said, "We want to know about the F-22 and the" -- well, I don't want to go back down that. I was thinking they would ask, you know, about their future. I'm wondering, compared to when you were secretary in '75, and now you're back again. Things have changed just in the last year.

Is your speech, what you're telling them, their advice, different now than it would have been a year ago or '75? I guess there's still [indiscernible] to go. Maybe it should be about what would you tell their parents about that?

Rumsfeld: Well, there's no question but that the thing that has stayed the same during the 25 years since I was last in this post are the people and their dedication, and the patriotism, and their devotion to duty. As I travel around the world visiting with our men and women in uniform, it is clearly the single most gratifying thing I can do as the secretary of defense. You can't help but come away with a sense of great pride in them and in what they're doing. It is truly noble work that they do in defending this country.

The big difference is that we were threatened by armies, and navies and air forces quite directly in previous generations. And today, we're threatened by a set of enemies that are notably different. They know best not to try to confront directly an army or a navy or an air force, and instead look for asymmetrical ways to attack us and to damage us and harm us.

Ballistic missiles are one; cruise missiles another; cyber attacks; terrorist attacks of various types; looking for scenes, looking for ways that they can harm our way of life, and advantage themselves at our expense. So, it's a notably different set of tasks we have.

The other thing that's different, of course, is that in the past, U.S. military force has, for the most part -- at least during my adult lifetime in the last 50, 50-plus years, our task has been to go and try to contribute to peace and stability in the world by taking the battle elsewhere, rather than directly defending our country, since Pearl Harbor. September 11th changed all that. And now, in fact, the role of these young men and women will be to directly defend our country in a whole host of different ways.


Staff: Over here.

Q: Could you elaborate on that a little bit? [Indiscernible] on radio.

Rumsfeld: Umm hmm.

Q: Could you elaborate a little bit about the role of some of these young men and women in defending the United States in Afghanistan, and how they may be helping in the search for Osama?

Rumsfeld: Well, the -- what they're doing is every conceivable task that the military performs, from flying airplanes to sitting at a terminal and flying an unmanned aerial vehicle, a drone, like a Predator or a Global Hawk. They are involved in the -- oh, the other night when I was coming out of Harat, Afghanistan, and they're right about, oh, 12 kilometers off the Iranian border heading up north towards Moscow. And we -- he did a -- it was -- we left -- took off about midnight, and the Air Force pilot did a night aerial refueling, which is a -- it's impressive watching what they do. And so, they're doing every conceivable task, from the Transport Command in Scott Air Force Base with General Handy, to fighter planes and logistics.


Q: Yes, sir.

Rumsfeld: Yes, sir?

Q: Erik Singer, Channel 11, the CBS affiliate here.

Rumsfeld: Umm hmm.

Q: The thought of the Northern Command being based here in southern Colorado, specifically Colorado Springs, what kind of impact do you believe it will have here within the southern Colorado military community, and also among the civilian community, if it is, indeed, based here?

Rumsfeld: Well, it -- as you know, it is our preferred choice, and there are some studies underway that should be completed rather soon. And I'm hopeful and, indeed, I expect that it will all work out well, and that the Northern Command will be based here. Ed Eberhart is the individual that is, I believe, currently before the Congress for confirmation for that post. And you folks know him well here. He's an enormously talented man, and we're very pleased that he's agreed to take -- undertake this new assignment.

I don't know that it'll have any particular economic impact here in the region, although it's obviously important to have a major command of that type here. From the standpoint of our country, it's important that we have that focus, and the coherence that will be brought to the tasks that Northern Command will be assigned.

As you know, it -- when it stands up, I believe, on October 1st later this year, it will have responsibility for Canada, the United States, Mexico. And NORAD will continue to be a part -- will be a part of it. And it will be a focal point for the defense establishment, to see that we're arranged in ways that reflect the reality of the 21st century. That, in fact, we are vulnerable to attacks.

It is, as we all know now, not really possible to defend in every place at every time against every conceivable technique that a terrorist could bring to bear. And a terrorist has that advantage of offense. They can attack at any time at any place, using any of a whole host of different techniques.

So, the only real way to deal with that problem is two-fold. One is to go after the terrorists and the countries that are harboring terrorists, wherever they are in the world. And then to mitigate when, in fact, a terrorist attack occurs, and be prepared to deal with it, to the extent -- on an after-the-fact basis.

So, intelligence gathering becomes very important. Preemption becomes very important. And I think we'll be much better organized to deal with it as this new command stands up.

Questions? Yes?

Q: Hi. Erin Emery, The Denver Post.

Rumsfeld: Greetings, Erin.

Q: If Northern Command comes to Colorado Springs, will U.S. base a command in Nebraska? And if U.S. -- if Northern Command comes to Colorado Springs, will the systems of Colorado Springs be any more of a target for terrorist attacks?

Rumsfeld: No. The -- I see intelligence information every day, and the threat information runs the full gamut, from overseas targets, foreign targets, our friends and allies, our deployed forces, embassies, Washington targets. But it wouldn't alter that a bit. It terms of Space Command, the important assets that are here would clearly stay here, regardless of where the commander of Space Command might be sitting. And the -- we have very important Space Command assets here that no one would think of moving as such. So, that's not an issue.

Q: I think -- Mr. Foster, Dick Foster --

Rumsfeld: Yes, sir.

Q: -- with the [indiscernible] News. We've seen some articles that you've talked to some recruiters. And they indicate to the News that recruiting has not increased substantially since September 11th. Do you anticipate greater manpower needs as this war on terrorism goes on? And how we can build those [indiscernible]?

Rumsfeld: We're reviewing that continuously. We have not increased our end-strength plans, and therefore, we have not made major efforts to increase recruiting. We -- what we have done is, on a temporary basis, we have activated a number of Guard and Reserve, plus or minus 70,000. And we have retained in the Service, some 20 to 25,000 people who were scheduled to get out.

A very large number of that total are volunteers. They're people who were asked to come in, or asked to stay in, even though their time was up. So, the number, the raw numbers, in the 90,000's, suggest that there are that many people who are doing something other than what they intended to do. And that's really not the case because, as I say, a large fraction are volunteers.

What we're doing is, we're trying to reduce down the number of people in uniform who are doing things that need not be done by people in uniform. And we're trying to go around the world, and drawdown forces that are located in places where they no longer need to be. The drawdown in Bosnia has been fairly continuous.

In those instances where we've used Guard and Reserve, for example, for homeland security, it has been, in each case, on a temporary basis. I've' -- we've negotiated memorandum of understandings with the departments and agencies responsible, such as for airport security, the Department of Transportation, Customs, INS, border patrols, those people.

And we've had an understanding that, fair and off, you need people fast now. And we'll provide them, but that we'll do it on a 30, 60, 90, 180-day basis. And that you have to show us that you're going to have a plan to replace those people, so that we can get them back to what they really ought to be doing.

So, we're, by the end of this month -- this is still May, I think -- yeah, another day or two. Supposedly by the end of this month, we'll have all of our folks out of airports. And that's, you know, a large number. We have deadline dates for people to be brought back off the borders in the INS and the Customs' responsibilities.

So, we're trying to use the pressure on end-strength as pressure to get people in uniform out of all the things they're doing around the world that really don't need to be done by people in uniform. They could be done by contractors. They can be done by civilian agencies and we're making good progress on that.

In the end, if we do have to increase end-strength, then, obviously, we'll do it. But at the moment, I don't have plans to do that.

Staff: Sir, you have a question right here.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: John VanWinkle from the Air Force Academy of Public Affairs.

Rumsfeld: Umm hmm.

Q: Transformation is one of the buzzwords we've heard from DOD here, and the Department of Defense would be [indiscernible] since the events of September 11th. How is the Department transforming itself in its missions and its structure, to meet the challenges of today's war effort? And how are the graduates of today's Air Force Academy important to the mission?

Rumsfeld: Well, they're important to the mission. You know, a lot of people think of transformation as a new weapons system, a satellite or something. Transformation is a process. It's not something that starts and ends. The world is dynamic. Therefore, our ability to cope with the world, and to live in this difficult, dangerous, and somewhat untidy world, has to evolve as we go along.

What's the single most important element to transformation, I would say, would be a culture, an attitude about life, people. People will have more to do to affect transformation in the armed services and, indeed, in a corporation, or any institution, than will a weapons system, or a particular platform, or a new thing as such.

So, I'm -- we're at it hard. Change is very hard for people. It's fascinating to watch. There are a lot of pressures for things to remain as they are. The problem with that is that the world is not remaining as it was. It is changing. And this institution, as big as it is, and as important as it is, is going to have to get with it, and see that we make the kinds of adjustments and changes, so that we'll be able to continue to successfully contribute to peace and stability in the world. And if we fail in that, we've failed the country terribly. And I expect we won't. I think we will succeed.

And I think transformation is happening. And it's happening because we're incrementally, step by step, persuading people that it's needed, and that they have to be a part of it, and that it's going to happen.

Staff: Yes, sir. One more question.

Q: Good morning, [indiscernible]. Mike Garrett, Colorado News 13, sir. With some general terrorist threats being shared with the public, describe your level of concern that the public won't start taking the warnings [indiscernible].

Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't think so. I think that people recognize that --

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