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Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace Stakeout at the House of Representatives

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 21, 2003

            Congressman Hunter:  Secretary had a great briefing with the Armed Services Committee and the Full House and we had lots of questions across the gambit and Mr. Secretary.

 

            Rumsfeld:  General Pace here.

 

            Congressman Hunter:  You got a statement here or we’ll open for any questions.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary at this hour Senator Warner is going to the Senate floor.  We understand to complain that he’s upset about the General Boykin matter and in particular that he sent you a letter on Friday asking for an Inspector General investigation into that matter and then that you announce today that they’ll be an investigation but at General Boykin’s request.  Can you clarify the timetable on that?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Powell Moore do you know anything about the timetable on this.

 

            Moore:  No Sir.  We got a letter from Senator Warner that was -- went down Friday but I don’t think anybody saw it yesterday.

 

            Rumsfeld:  And today we announced that General Boykin had requested an Inspector General’s review of the matter.  And I don’t quite follow the thrust of your question.  Today is what day?  Tuesday.

 

            Q:  Were you aware of their request prior to today?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Were you aware of his request prior to today?

 

            Voice:  No.

 

            Rumsfeld:  I don’t believe I’ve seen the letter.  I can’t – it maybe somewhere around the building but I am not aware of it.

 

            Congressman Hunter:  Next question.

 

            Q:  Do you think the General should step aside while the IG report – investigation is underway do you think he should step aside from duties?

 

            Rumsfeld:  About and hour before a press briefing today I was advised that he had requested an Inspector General review.  I do not even know I’ve been in meeting here ever since as to what – what do you call it?  A charter or the specifics of the review will be.  Charter.  And I’m old fashioned I tend to like to talk about things I know something about so when I get back to the office.

 

            Congressman Hunter:  Secretary [and] Senator has been doing wall-to-wall Iraq here and trying to inform us on what’s happening so let’s take another one.

 

            Q:  Up on the Hill here a number of your officials have been peppered with questions about why there’s been a lack of body armor and I ask you now in retrospect, was there a breakdown in the planning for post-war Iraq that failed to anticipate the types of hostilities U.S. troops would encounter and the types of equipment they would need.  Body armor is pretty elementary Sir.

 

            Gen. Pace:  Every soldier and Marine on the ground over had body armor.  The difference is, is that our industry has produced an even better body armor than what we have, so what the folks went over to the war with is what we’ve been wearing for several years, which is body armor that’s very, very good against a certain caliber of munition.  The new body armor is better against large caliber munition, industry produced it and Congress funded it and industries producing as fast as they can and as fast as they’re making it we’re getting it to Iraq.  The projection is that by December of this year everybody in Iraq will have the new armor, so everybody has armor it’s the difference between whether they have the most recent capacity armor or the armor that we’ve been wearing – body armor that we’ve been wearing for a couple years.

 

            Q:  I heard there was a shortage of armor like 40,000 troops didn’t have armor?

 

            Gen. Pace:  No.  About 40,000 troops did not have the brand new improved armor.  All had body armor available and it’s the 40,000 deficits in the new armor that’s being corrected between now and December.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary what’s your reaction to the House instructing their conferees to make half the supplemental alone rather than having all of the money as basically aid to Iraq?

 

            There was vote today at the House that instructed the conferees on that matter voted in favor of it.  What do think of it?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I’m being asked things that have happened five minutes ago when I was in the hearing and as I say, I am really old fashioned before I answer questions about things I like to know something about the subject and I never heard of what you’re talking about.

 

            Congressman Hunter:  Let’s take one more question on Iraq.

 

            Q:  Secretary have you talked to the Administration or any of the conferees about an amendment made in the Senate last to the Iraqi supplemental like Jack Reid of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel to increase the active duty Army number to 10,000?  Have you talked to them about that or do you know what’s going to happen (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  You’re saying have I talked to them?

 

            Q:  Yeah have you talk (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  No I have not.  This is a subject that we have been addressing and reviewing continuously over the past year or two and it certainly is something that given the spike in activity with a conflict in Iraq and the stress on the force that results from such a spike in activity that we address very seriously.  And as General Pace can tell you the Chiefs of the services and the senior civilian officials in the Department have been reviewing it, we have, I’m going to guess 25 or 30 different things underway, to find ways to reduce the stress on the force, which we believe is the first step that is appropriate.

 

            One of the critical elements that’s pending before the Congress at the present time is the ability to better manage the personnel system so that the whatever the number is plus or minus 300,000 people in uniform who are currently serving in positions that could be performed by contractors or civilians can be freed up.  Some fraction even 10,000, 20,000 could be freed up to perform military functions rather than functions that can be performed by civilians, that’s the single most important thing that could be done.  And I would hope that the Congress in addressing this legislation in the conference rather than immediately going into the taxpayers pockets for a 10,000-person increase when there’s no analytical work that supports it.  I’d rather see them fix the personnel system so that we can manage the existing force more effectively and increase end-strength – usable end-strength by more than 10,000.

 

            Now, I don’t know what the Congress will end up deciding but we have made our case and I will add in closing that if any point the President or I or the Chiefs believe that we need an increase end-strength we will be right before the Congress asking for it.  But we simply do not have any analytical work that would argue that that would be an appropriate thing to do.  And those who argue that the end-strength should be increased I think have an obligation to say where do you want to take the money out of? what are we going to take it out of?  If you increase the Army end-strength by 10,000 are you going to take it out of the Navy or the Air Force or the Marines?  Are we going to take it out of research and development and our future?  Are we going to take it out of the future combat system or the helicopters or whatever?  And there is no indication that I know of in that exercise that took place over there that answered that question.

 

            Do you know of anything more about that?

 

            Congressman Hunter:  I know that Jack Reid put some 10,000 troops strength increase on the Senate side.

 

            Rumsfeld:  And it’s not the House side?

 

            Congressman Hunter:  Same information yeah, it’s not on the House side.  We’re in conference right now on the personnel bill, which will give the flexibility to the Secretary to be able to use civil service in places where you’re using uniform personnel right now.  If we can get that through and that’s the House version we are going to free up lots of folks in uniforms so that’s going to have a salutary affect on the effectiveness of the present force.

 

            And folks, thanks a lot.

 

            Rumsfeld:  Thank you.

 

            Gen Pace:  Appreciate it.