United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Media Roundtable with Mr. Edelman from the Pentagon

Presenters: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Eric Edelman
August 28, 2006
MR. EDELMAN: When the secretary asked me to first come back and do this job, when he was actually interviewing me before he decided he wanted me to come back and do this job, he asked me what I thought about the organization of OSD policy and expressed some concerns that it was not aligned around the issues that the department was dealing with day to day in the global war on terror.

And I told him, having been here during a previous reorganization, I didn't feel that I was in a position at that stage to give him any considered views and that my own experience of reorganizations was that one needed to take the measure of an organization and get a sense of how it was functioning.

And, you know, I was George Shultz's special assistant in 1982 when he took over at the State Department and watched him do it; was here in the '93 reorganization. And, all things considered, I'd prefer to have a more deliberate kind of approach.

And so, when I came on board a year or so ago, one of the first things the secretary asked me to look at was the organization of policy. And Ryan Henry, my principal deputy, and I, along with a couple of other folks, started looking at this. And we began looking at it from the point of view of both things I just said, which is, are we organized around the work we're doing? How did we get to the current legacy organization that we had?

A lot of it had been previously legislated by the Congress or had been -- I wouldn't say serendipitous, but different secretaries or undersecretaries at earlier times had, for good and sufficient reasons at the time, created some positions that might or might not reflect issues that we are working on now.

And so the guidance he gave us going forward to look at it was to try and develop a set of balanced portfolios that would enable the organization to interact more effectively with the combatant commanders, to have sort of fewer points of entry for the organization for people and for the organization to work with outsiders to make it easier for our colleagues in the State Department and the NSC to work with us as well.

One of the early insights we got was from a colleague in the department who had actually done a lot of work outside the department, who said that, you know, our task in some sense was not all that different from any international business organization that is organized to deal with a product overseas; that is to say, you tend to have your sales force -- that is, the force that is trying to sell something overseas tends to be organized regionally, and then the people who are producing something tend to be organized functionally.

And we had that tension in the organization. And the question was, how could we align ourselves in a way that would facilitate the horizontal integration across the vertical stovepipes that are inevitable, you know, in any kind of vertically hierarchical organization?

And so we set out to do something that would be personality-neutral, not in any way a reflection on either the people who are current incumbents in the job, including yours truly, and that would facilitate horizontal integration, that would be organized more in keeping with what we have professed in the QDR, which is to say that we are about developing capabilities and not threats, not based on just threats per se, and that we are trying to involve the defense establishment in the direction of a transformed joint force.

So that was sort of where we are when we started. So let me hand these out. This is a sort of short kind of history of the organization and how it emerged. And I'm going to hand you a handout that I'm going to -- we're going to go back to the future. We've got the future on top of the current. I'm going to start with the current.

So if you start with the current organization, and if you were to take the current organization chart and if you were to put your hand over everything to the right of ISA -- ASD for ISA -- that would be what the organization looked like roughly when Secretary Rumsfeld was secretary the first time. There was ISA. And then my position was created essentially by the Congress in 1977. And then, in the beginning of Reagan, Secretary Weinberger created ISP. And then the Congress created SOLIC in conjunction with the establishment of Goldwater-Nichols and the Nunn-Robb legislation. And then, in 2002, the ASD for Homeland Defense was created.

And in the middle of all that, the PDUSD position was created by my predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz, during the elaboration of the -- for a very specific task, which was to try and elaborate the base force idea back in Bush 41. Some of you were around for that. And Congress then established that position in legislation as well.

So when we got through kind of looking at all those criteria I mentioned, we came to the following organizational structure. After having gone through many iterations of what it might look like, how one might cut up the regional responsibilities -- and I think we were all very mindful of the fact that wherever you create a vertical line somewhere in the organization, you're creating a seam. And so it's possible to argue, are all of these things round or flat? Why did you put this on one side of the line and something else on the other?

And so when the secretary finally finished with this, I think what he felt comfortable with was that this more nearly reflected the kind of work that the policy organization has been doing than the way we were organized previously.

So if you look at going from left to right -- and I hope we'll have some maps here which will help also show this graphically a little better, a map that shows how these new ASD lines line up a little bit better with the combatant commanders' lines in the UCP with the way State and NSC are organized, which I think will help you see it graphically.

But we have assistant secretary for National Security Affairs with Europe and NATO, Middle East and Africa. So that assistant secretary essentially is now aligned with EUCOM and part of CENTCOM. An assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, who has Asia, South Asia, Central Asia -- Asia Pacific, South Asia, Central Asia; so that assistant secretary is aligned with PACOM and part of CENTCOM.

We've moved the Western Hemisphere office to our Homeland Defense office so that we are aligned with NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM. And we'll have a few issues to work through with that, but I'm confident we can make that work. And then we took all the functional elements and responsibilities, the cross-cutting functional responsibilities that had been associated with parts of ISA and ISP in the previous organizational structure, and added a couple of additional pieces that come out of QDR, and have one assistant secretary for Global Security Affairs.

I think the way to think about this person is as a kind of force provider or a supporting commander to support commanders with other responsibilities, bringing to bear functional subject matter expertise that cuts across, by its nature, geographic lines and will work in tandem.

And this goes to the issue of trying to facilitate sort of horizontal integration in the organization, which perforce has to be vertically organized. And you'll see here we've got an element for building partnership capacity, which is very important growing out of QDR; Security Cooperation Ops, which is essentially coalition management in the real world. You've got DSEA (sp) still reporting up to me, but a line for those partnership capacity and security cooperation elements.

We've got the DUSD for Technology Security Policy, which is currently vacant but remains on the books, and that reports up to me and has aligned with it both Defense Technology Security Agency (DTSA) but also a new and, I think, very important shop that is going to deal with counternarcotics, counterproliferation and global threats.

And it's based on the notion that people who do bad stuff tend to do more than one bad thing. And if they're dealing drugs, they're very likely to also be trafficking in WMD materials, in women and children, involved in organized crime. And so that will be a major preoccupation of that assistant secretary; and then Detainee Affairs and personnel recovery activities, which also cut across kind of geographic lines there.

Then, finally, we have an assistant secretary for SOLIC and what we're calling interdependent capabilities. And I know there was a lot of speculation that we were going to do away with SOLIC. And that was never, I think, our intent. This assistant secretary retains all the Title X responsibilities that the assistant secretary of SOLIC currently has; sits on the SOCOM board, has the MFP-11 budget oversight responsibilities.

Stability Ops, or SSTR, as it's known in the Directive 3000 that went out, is already under that assistant secretary. It stays there. But what we are doing is adding to the capabilities portfolio by saying we want to see, as we say in QDR, how we integrate these capabilities, how we take some of the unconventional, unorthodox thinking, the language capability, the cultural awareness that has traditionally been resonant in our Special Operations Forces. And how do we get that kind of thinking more broadly into the capabilities mix that we have in the department?

And so we have a strategic capabilities element here, which is looking at both the new triad but in our global conventional precision strike capabilities, missile defense, et cetera.

But the kind of synergy that we're hoping to develop out of this is the kind of synergy that took old Trident boats and figured out that they could be used as a way of delivering Special Forces capabilities.

And we also have a force transformation and resources piece here which will be looking at the broader issues of transformation. And so this assistant secretary is basically aligned with essentially SOCOM (Special Operations Command), and I guess you'd say STRATCOM (Strategic Command) in certain elements, and Joint Forces Command JFCOM.

And we have a GWOT task force that is meant to help us with the national implementation plan that's been approved by the president for the strategy for the global war on terror. There are a lot of tasks that have been assigned to a variety of different departments. We're actually in the lead in the Department of Defense for a relatively small number of those tasks.

But it's absolutely crucial that those tasks get done in order for us to be able to succeed in what we do, because it is a function of issues that cut across agency lines. And so we wanted to have a cell of people who are working directly with NCTC and giving us visibility day to day and how all that work is going forward.

We've re-established a policy planning capability in the principal deputy undersecretary's shop, something that had gone away back in the 1993 transition. And we've also put an element there for support to public diplomacy, because although the strategy in the global war on terror calls for an element that counters ideological support to terror, we have very little direct role in that. We have a supporting role to play, and we want to give that the appropriate attention that it deserves at a fairly high level.

So that is --

Q Excuse me. Where is that?

MR. EDELMAN: If you look up on the right there, there's a Support to Public Diplomacy element -- upper right there.

I think -- do we have the -- yeah, we've got the -- this --

Q Since you're under your current organizational chart, it looks like you're giving a lot of support to the issue of detainee affairs because it's right up there at the very top. This drops way down in the new organization. Does that reflect your sense that you're done with detainee issues?

MR. EDELMAN: No, I don't think so. I think it was -- it's not dropped. And let me say that one thing that I think is important to bear in mind here; it is inevitable in Washington, unfortunately, people like to think of things as, you know, who won and who lost. And as I said, this was done very neutrally with regard to personalities. And I think when the Detainee Affairs Office was set up, it was put up under the direct supervision of my principal deputy, because it was a sort of new problem. It was quite urgent at the time.

I don't think this is dropping it. I think Cully Stimson, the current deputy assistant secretary, who will remain a deputy assistant secretary, will continue to have direct access to me, to Ryan Henry, my deputy, and also will be involved with the deputy secretary and the secretary in all of their meetings on this subject. I don't think it's going to diminish the responsibility at all. Rather, it was a recognition of the fact that this is an area that is cross-cutting. It's not just one -- it doesn't pertain to just one geographic area or one set of responsibilities.

If you look at the map for a second, this shows you both the current and then future model of alignment by assistant secretary. I think this shows a little bit better about why we're slightly better organized in terms of matching up, not perfectly, but a little bit better with both our colleagues in the UCP, State and NSC.

So I'll leave you with those as a bit of a heuristic device to try and see why this aligns us, I think, a little more cleanly.

Q Why don't you break out the Middle East the way CENTCOM does?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, we're still actually -- or I should say that within these kind of DASD boxes that you see, we have not completely figured out how those lines are going to run, you know, between sort of CENTCOM and EUCOM's part of Africa. That part we're still sort of sorting through.

Q Do you see this as making detainee operations more standard? I mean, at the beginning they were new. It wasn't something you were used to doing. Now, by doing this, are you making it part of the bureaucracy? Is this a long-term indefinite business for the U.S.?

MR. EDELMAN: We'd like to get out of the detainee business if we could. I think the Office of Detainee Affairs was created before we started this process of reorganization. And I wouldn't draw a conclusion about, you know, whether we're in this for the long run. We're in this for the foreseeable future, which is what this organizational schema was meant to deal with.

What we hope is that we have kind of identified a schema that will allow us to adapt over time as things change, because what may make sense today -- I think one of the things we've learned from looking back on our experience is what may make sense today may not make sense, you know, a couple of years from now because of the rapidly changing environment.

And so what we've tried to do, again, by doing it in a way that's personality-neutral, which is based on how we're organizing our work now, but to do it in a way that enables us to make shifts of emphasis over time as the issue set inevitably changes, as it will.

Q Can you talk a little bit about under Global Security Affairs building partner and security cooperation ops? Why did you break those into separate streams of responsibility?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, basically, one is to do the part that is the sort of policy elaboration and articulation. We have been developing some new authorities, new tools, new ways of doing business. We have a Partnership Capacity Road Map that I co-chair with Admiral Sullivan, coming out of the QDR. We've had all sorts of things that we have developed CERP funds, which we're now trying to get to be global in nature; the 1206-1207 authorities we got from the Congress last December that enabled us to respond more quickly to do training and equipping of foreign forces that might be helpful in the global war on terror. As some of you know, we have a piece of 1206 that's going to go to the Lebanese Armed Forces, once we meet certain conditions out there.

So there's a part of this that needs to be constantly looking at what the policy tools we need to be developing and the strategies we need to build partner capacity. And then there are the folks where actually the rubber meets the road, doing the -- you know, how do we get together with partners in actual operations? How do we work with countries that are working with us in OIF or OEF? What do we do, you know, when there are changes, when certain areas are returned to either Iraqi control, for instance, and the coalition forces that are there leave and go somewhere else? How do we manage that coalition process?

Q Sir, did I miss something? On the UCP model, it has Africa Command?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, that's a proposal. That's a proposal that's still being discussed. But I think we did it because it's appeared in the press in the last couple of days, so people wanted to just see how that looked.

Q Is that a little more than just a proposal but an idea that's going to be announced?

MR. EDELMAN: I don't want to talk -- I'm not here to talk about the UCP because that doesn't belong to me. That belongs to the chairman. So you need to direct questions to him. But, you know, there's obviously been discussion about whether there should be an Africa Command or not. We were just looking to see whether things would match up.

Right now this organization is meant to align with the current EUCOM and part of CENTCOM. If there were to be an Africa Command, it would be aligned with that. But we'd have to perhaps make some adjustments, depending on -- but that's a decision that the chairman and the secretary are doing, and I'm not involved in that discussion.

Q Why is your technology security policy slot vacant? How long has it been vacant?

MR. EDELMAN: It's been vacant for about a year, since Lisa Bronson, who had been the DUSD, went off to NDU. And the secretary makes a point that we've been slow about a quarter of the positions throughout DOD have been vacant at any given time during his tenure in office.

Q Has somebody been nominated?

MR. EDELMAN: No, we have not -- it's not a nomination because it's not a Senate-confirmable position, but we have not come up with a candidate to replace Lisa yet.

Q Has this fallen through the cracks or any pending technology security policy issues at stake?

MR. EDELMAN: No, it's just that we've got a lot going on and we've got a lot of different personnel pieces we're moving around and we just haven't gotten around to doing that one yet.

Q Given the difficulty in filling these positions, adding another Senate-confirmable slot, did that seem like adding a whole another can of worms besides the role of the person that you want?

MR. EDELMAN: No. I mean, I think that the issue is that the amount of work we're trying to manage in this department has grown exponentially since September 11th, and we're trying to give the people who are involved in it a reasonable span of control and authority.

We can actually, you know, implement this design without an additional Senate-confirmed ASD. And if the Congress -- you know, I do not want to presume what the Congress will or won't do. So far the congressional leadership has been very sympathetic to what we're trying to do. If we have to, we can implement this without an assistant secretary.

From my view, that's suboptimal, because I think if you're going to assign these kinds of responsibilities, I think you want to do it in a way that gives the Congress the opportunity to advise and consent on whoever the secretary would recommend to the president, who the president would nominate for this position, so that they could be Senate-confirmed and so the Senate -- the Congress as a whole can exercise their legitimate constitutional oversight responsibilities.

Q Is that a concern of yours, as a policy planner, just that it is really difficult to get confirmed, do you see? Are you taking that into account anyway?

MR. EDELMAN: We always take that into account. You know, the president has the prerogative to nominate people and the Senate has the prerogative to confirm them or not. That's the system we operate in. And so, you know, there's no reason not to try and organize yourselves in a way that's appropriate, because the process exists.

Q So when will you make these changes, and --

Q On the issue of Iran? The nuclear issue is going to come to a head this week with the U.N. and the deadline, and there seems to be some talk among the Europeans about going back to Iran and giving them another chance to discuss it. Do you have a position on --

MR. EDELMAN: I'm not here to talk about that. First of all, that's a diplomatic issue that my colleagues in the State Department are working on right now. You need to address those questions to Dr. Rice and Ambassador Burns. I just don't have anything to tell you.

Q What's the time line on this change?

MR. EDELMAN: We are mindful of the fact that, and having been part of reorganizations in the past, that change can be disruptive. And we've got a lot going on, and we've got a NATO summit coming up and we've got a Western Hemisphere defense ministerial in the fall.

And so we are going to try and do this in a time-phased way between, I would say, roughly about October 1st and March 1st to realign all of this. And, you know, we're also doing it in a period of time where we're probably going to be physically moving faces in the Pentagon. So there are a lot of moving parts that we have to bring together.

Q So these changes are between October 1 and March 1st.

MR. EDELMAN: Between October 1 and March 1st, there will probably be several phases.

Q To what extent was this all driven by frustration with not being able to cross-cut not just operations but common policy, common understanding between -- (off mike) -- State and NSC and USAID and CENTCOM? Because it seems to me like, looking at it from that side, that was totally imbalanced -- despite everybody's good intentions, it wasn't working. It seems like this is an attempt to fix that.

MR. EDELMAN: That's certainly in part, you know, what was intended. It was -- as I said, the secretary sensed that we were misaligned in some ways and that he wanted to make it easier for the policy folks and for the COCOMs to be able to figure out what the right address was to go with whatever problem they might have. And so a big part of it, you know, was to fix that. It was not the only part. I mean, it was not the only element in this, but it certainly was a major factor.

Q Do you ever --

Q Did you have input from the State Department, from NSA and all those places, on how you would divide this up?

MR. EDELMAN: Did we have input? I wouldn't say input. We've discussed it, you know, with some folks. But we actually kept the circle of people who've been informed of this pretty tight.

Q One of the things that QDR said was that defense and national security policy should come from various other parts of the U.S. government as well as you mentioned that it was misaligned with the way the DOD -- (off mike). How is this realignment going to help with that in terms of coming up with, let's say, the next QDR, the next national defense policy --

MR. EDELMAN: Well, I think that part of what the QDR was saying is that we need to develop better both interagency and international partners if we're going to be able to pursue the global war on terror. And what this effort is intended to do is help us address both of those.

One has been in line with the earlier questions that, you know, I've been discussing with you all about how this helps us align better with COCOM's and other elements of the government. It's not perfect and it's not a complete match with anybody. You couldn't have a complete match with anybody.

And I would even argue that you don't want to have everybody having the same lines of demarcation or division. There's actually some utility in having some slight differences as long as -- so you don't all have the same seams and then you have the same issues dropping between the cracks. But I think this will make it a little bit easier for us to operate interagency. And I also think, if you look at some of what we've put in here, the emphasis on building partnership capacity, on developing capabilities, will reinforce one another as we go forward trying to get other partners in the global war on terror able to help us better.

Q Could you put a little more meat on the bones in terms of the motivations for this? It's a rather substantial reorganization. Other than -- I mean, can you give us examples of what cross-cutting issues were not getting dealt with, what was falling through the gaps? Because obviously the last five years this office was rather heavily involved in all sorts of rather important things. Reorganization would tend to suggest that there were things falling through the cracks that the secretary wasn't particularly happy about.

MR. EDELMAN: I would put it slightly differently. I think the problem was that there were a lot of issues that didn't fall neatly into, you know, the bailiwick of any, you know, one assistant secretary that we had. And so we ended up having to bring together a whole hodge-podge of sort of task force-like structures. And this was an effort to try and simplify that and clean it up.

As I said, we recognized that we had to have some vertical organization. But what we want to do is create one that facilitated the horizontal integration. And we thought by cleaning up, by, first of all, dividing out some of the geographic responsibilities so that the individuals in charge have an easier span of control over the huge size of all these issues enabled them to, first of all, deal on a kind of better basis with the combatant commanders that they had to deal with rather than having one or two guys with three or four combatant commanders they had to work, trying to get the number down to a more manageable number, but then to organize ourselves functionally so that the functional pieces can just plug in with the geographic pieces without having to have parts from, you know, four or five different organizations all together.

Q And can you cite, like, a task force-like hodge-podge that was existing previous to it that had to be cobbled together, but now --

MR. EDELMAN: Well, I think, traditionally -- I mean, I wasn't here for it, so you'd have to check with others. But I think when the detainee thing first came up, I think that was done as a kind of task force-like structure before we got the Office of Detainee Affairs organized. It was things like that that made us want to try and figure out how can we organize ourselves in a little bit better way.

Q I can already hear what the critics are going to say tomorrow, which is something about rearranging the deck chairs. How -- and I'd like to give you an opportunity to address it. What will you say to people that will say simply reorganizing and drawing up new box charts isn't going to change the problems that this government has with interagency coordination?

MR. EDELMAN: I think all of us who have been involved in this would stipulate, as lawyers would say, that you could have the best wiring diagram in the world, and without the right personalities, you know, working together, you know, you don't get the result.

So as I said, the idea was to do this in a personality-neutral way without regard to the current incumbents or who you might have in the future. But we're now at the point where we're going to start having real live individuals involved in this. And it's going to be incumbent on us to work better together. I think in fact, interagency coordination has, in my observation, gotten a lot better over the last year or two.

Q Do you anticipate any particular (principles ?) that are getting broken that people are going to complain about?

MR. EDELMAN: You know, any time you change an organization, as I said, there are always people who are inclined to see it as winners and losers, either organizationally or personally. That wasn't the way the secretary looked at it. That wasn't the way we looked at it as we put it together. But, you know, I'm sure there will be people who will look at this as, you know, "Why did you put this piece here instead of there?" And I wouldn't want to speculate on who they're likely to be. I'm sure they'll identify themselves soon enough.

Q Speaking specifically about what pieces are going to be moved where, could you address the rationale of moving Central Asia, as well as Afghanistan, to the Asia and Pacific?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, if you look at the way the NSC and State have organized themselves, they made a conscious decision to align South and Central Asia. And that's in part because we think that Afghanistan and Pakistan need to be part of a broader geographic area and to take advantage of the potential synergies between South and Central Asia from an economic point of view if they're going to succeed.

We also would like both of those areas to be seen as moving in the direction of a closer association with the United States and with the West more broadly. And so we actually were followers rather than initiators here. This alignment is in keeping with the previous decision that State and NSC had made about how they would organize themselves.

Q Do these changes allow the chairman and the secretary to make changes to the Unified Command Plan?

MR. EDELMAN: Yeah --

Q I mean, without these changes, could those UCP changes not be made in --

MR. EDELMAN: The secretary and the chairman have been looking at the UCP on their own track. I've not personally been involved in that discussion. We were trying to make the policy organization line up a little bit better with the UCP as it currently exists. But, you know, the UCP is, you know, also an adaptive evolutionary document. It changes over time.

What we were trying to do was set ourselves up so, as change over time occurred, we could also adapt our organization so that we and the uniformed side of the house can work better together with one another.

Q Are any of these changes -- do they set the stage for any other significant changes within the UCP?

MR. EDELMAN: I don't believe there's any connection right now between the secretary's consideration of the UCP and this model right now, other than what I said, which is that it will try to make us more consistent with the UCP as it currently is, bearing in mind it will change over time and we may have to adjust.

Q I wanted to get back to the point about needing congressional approval for this new position, or Senate confirmation. Do you have to actually submit legislation that will kind of -- (inaudible) -- for the Congress and get them to sign off? Or do you just nominate -- is someone nominated for this job and --

MR. EDELMAN: No, the only legislation that is required is to create -- there are currently nine authorized assistant secretaries in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. They need to authorize a tenth. That's the only changes necessary.

Q At one point there used to be 13, if I'm not mistaken. There were 13 ASDs at one time.

MR. EDELMAN: You could --

Q It goes back and forth.

MR. EDELMAN: Yeah, Pete, you probably know the history better than I do.

Q You said that they did -- you know, you've had some conversations. Can you elaborate on that at all?

MR. EDELMAN: The secretary has discussed it with Chairman Warner and Chairman Hunter, and they're -- I don't want to speak for them, but they understand the need to change the way that we are organized and do business. And I think they're inclined to be helpful. And we've also briefed the staff directors of both the minority and majority in the HASC and the SASC. So they're aware of this and, you know, we'll see where it goes from there.

Q Are you trying to get it written into the conference bill?

MR. EDELMAN: It's up to them what they put in their conference bill. I mean, if they were to do that, that would be helpful in moving out more quickly on this structure. But as I said, if we don't get this in legislation immediately, we're still able to move forward with this structure without another ASD.

There's another way to do it. As I said, it's suboptimal, from my point of view. You could do it with a DUSD, with a deputy undersecretary position. But I think, from my point of view and I think from the Congress's point of view, having someone who would be a presidential nominee, sent to the Congress for confirmation in the answerable and normal way that they do congressional oversight, is better government, good government for everybody.

Q So you are dealing with Congress. Have you asked them to put it in the conference report? That's different from telling them to. Or have you asked them for stand-alone legislation, or is it just --

MR. EDELMAN: I think it's going to be their call on how this gets done, and I wouldn't want to judge, you know, what legislative mechanism, in the end, they think is the best way to do this. You know, I don't know that we have a judgment, ultimately, on that.

Q Generally, you guys would submit proposed legislation and they would figure -- has that already gone in?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, I think there's a possibility that they might do it in conference. I just don't know. You know, and if they don't, then we'll have to figure out where we go from there.

Q You said this was a pretty close hold effort. How many people were involved in this effort? A dozen or?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, at different stages of the game, there were different numbers of people involved. There were about five or six folks who met sort of regularly with the secretary to think about this and talk about it with him among his senior staff. The deputy secretary was briefed all the way along, obviously.

We consulted with a number of people, both inside the department but also some people outside, including some people who had formerly been in the department but were now outside. You know, we consulted early on, for instance, with Brad Berkson at PA&E and various others who had some experience. We consulted along the way with colleagues in the joint staff.

So I haven't actually counted up the number of folks, but it was a relatively small group. We wanted to be able to get it done. We wanted to be able to announce it to our own staff rather than, with all due respect, to you guys, having you guys, you know, announce it through various stories that would appear in the press.

And that was basically because, I mean, I myself had the experience of finding out about a reorganization largely through discussion in the press when I was here. And, you know, from the point of view of management, I didn't think that was ideal. And so we wanted to try and keep it relatively under wraps.

Q I have a business card with a name of person with the same Asia Pacific Affairs title...did more people know about this?

MR. EDELMAN: No. I mean, there is already a directorate of Asia and Pacific Affairs. It's just the assistant secretary title that's new. If there was someone with a card that said they were the assistant secretary -- (laughter, cross talk) -- then I would be a little bit concerned. (Laughter.)

Q How did your townhall go? What kinds of questions did you get?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, nobody threw anything at me, which is always good sign. And they applauded at the end, also a good sign.

I think that this did not come as a big shock to anybody, because we have been, over the last couple of weeks, briefing the assistant secretaries. We had an offsite on Friday afternoon and Saturday where all the deputy assistant secretaries and senior SESs went out and kind of worked their way -- chewed their way through kind of how this is and how we're going to implement this. And they come back, we're going to -- we have to make some adjustments. Not everything that's inside all these boxes is nailed down 100 percent yet. We're going to have to work our way through it. Again, we want it to be flexible and adaptive, and we wanted to get the benefit of the tremendous professionals we have working here and the knowledge and expertise they bring to bear as we work our way through it so that, you know, they feel that this is ultimately their organization. But also, there are some things -- you know, even as smart a group as those of us who are involved in this can't think of everything, and so there are some issues that we may not have completely thought about that we need to take into account, particularly as we, you know, phase this in over time and try and do it in a way that doesn't disrupt the very important work that people are doing. We obviously, you know, have all the tasks we have in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in the global war on terror.

Q Who do you anticipate are going to be the ASDs?

MR. EDELMAN: I don't want to get into the issue of personalities yet, because we don't have -- we don't have anybody to change out yet, in the sense that we don't know that we're going to have another Senate-confirmed assistant secretary. Those people will be, you know, when we get to that point, if there are people to be nominated, the, you know, White House will announce that because they'll go through the normal process whereby presidential nominees are selected, announced by the White House and then confirmed by the Senate.

So I just -- I really can't share anything -- right now, the folks we have are going to be the folks we have as we move our way through this.

Q Could you talk a bit about how the organization -- (off mike).

MR. EDELMAN: We currently have had some folks doing support to public diplomacy in ISA. And it's an important task. It's one that belongs, to some degree, to Karen Hughes, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. And we are clear that we are playing a supportive -- a supporting role here; that's why it's Defense's support to public diplomacy.

The exact contours, I think I can't tell you because part of it's also going to depend on the -- you know, we've got this strategic communications roadmap group -- it's a SCIG, I guess it's called -- and that effort is going forward, and how this plays into that, we're waiting for that piece to be finalized, because we only play one part of a larger role that the department plays through public affairs and through various other activities supporting public diplomacy.

Q Do you anticipate in addition to the sort of one addition of assistant secretary this reorganization will lead to new jobs? Or will people just be (audible)...?

MR. EDELMAN: We're doing this within our current resources. We're realigning this within our current resources. I think if the secretary had his way we'd have -- he'd want to know if we could do this with fewer people, but I think we're going to try and do this with the number of folks we have and we're going to --

Q Which is how many?

Col Chris King: Four hundred and forty-nine.

MR. EDELMAN: It's about 449 full-time employees.

Thank you, Chris.

Q So if you start moving October 1st, and let's say Congress is slow -- even if they generally agree with you -- would you then move your assistant secretary for international security policy over into this global security affairs position?

I mean, is that -- because I'm just looking -- the rest of them looks like the international security affairs, there's one of those on the new chart and there's a SOLIC and there's a homeland defense.

MR. EDELMAN: Yeah, we will develop a program -- as I said, we haven't got -- we've got a notional-phased plan. It now has to -- it now has to meet the reality test of we have a NATO summit; we have a Western Hemisphere defense ministerial. We've got a bunch of real-world activities. And so exactly how we move all those pieces around has to be phased in with that calendar.

And when we, you know, when we get to it, when we're in a position to deal with the questions of, "do we have another assistant secretary or not?" we'll then start, you know, moving those pieces around. But I wouldn't want to make any statement about who's going to move into what, because I don't want to really speculate about it.

Q Do you have all four of your people filled right now?

MR. EDELMAN: Yes. All four of the assistant secretary positions are currently filled.

Q You said that the policy planning office was disestablished in '93 and now it's back again. Could you talk about why it was disestablished and brought back again?

MR. EDELMAN: You know, I left in 1993 as the first phase of the Aspin reorganization was in effect. You'd have to go back and talk with those folks about how policy planning fell out, but it did fall out during that period. I think in the transition, I think, from Secretary Aspin's to Secretary Perry it sort of fell out. And the secretary, I think, felt that we needed to have some policy planning function. And so that's a change we actually made before this thing actually came to full fruition. We already had started implementing that part.

Q What do they do, exactly? Because everybody else has all these specific jobs, what --

MR. EDELMAN: The classic policy planning is, you know, folks who are looking three to five years out to see whether the policies we're pursuing now are actually going to meet the things we're likely to encounter in a couple of years.

Q We haven't been doing this?

MR. EDELMAN: We've been doing it but without a formal charter to be doing it. It was being done variously in the Office of Resources and Plans and in the Office of Strategy. This was just a way of pulling it together in a more consistent and focused way.

And they'll be looking -- part of their remit also will be looking at what we're calling strategic futures, which is further than five years out. What are the big strategic shocks that might be out there that, you know, might create a problem for us -- either some unforeseen technological development that might neutralize some of our qualitative advantages, or epidemic diseases, or demographic trends that may affect the alliance or relations with other countries. That kind of thing.

Q Is China factor in making an Asia bridge? Looking at China, we're moving a lot of forces to Asia, doing a lot more things.

MR. EDELMAN: Well, I mean, you know in the QDR of 2001, obviously, a lot more focus on Asia. This year's QDR identifies both China and India as crucial countries at a strategic crossroads. And so yes, that certainly, you know, overall had some impact on how we decided to divide the labor, but I wouldn't say it was China-specific. It was a bit broader of a consideration than that.

Q The Office of Force Transformation was led by former Admiral Cerbrowski what will happen to this organization?

MR. EDELMAN: Adm Cebrowski.

Q Dies that mean it will be a separate office?

MR. EDELMAN: I think what used to be the Office of Force Transformation, different parts of it are going different places. I think some of that --

Q So they're won't be -- will there be a separate office still, or would that be --

MR. EDELMAN: No, I don't think there's going to be a separate office.

Q Would the appropriate way of thinking ASD global security affairs, is all those functions that rely on a foreign government to deal with?

MR. EDELMAN: No, I think the way to think about them is, those are crosscutting functions that occur not in just one region, but tend to be some things that one does across regions and that would have applicability to more than one region.

Q You said the Office of Strategic Futures will look for shocks -- is that different from the Office of Net Assessment?

MR. EDELMAN: It does not have anything to do with the Office of Net Assessment, which continues to do great work and I benefit from it. I see Andy Marshall periodically and he's been kind enough to send me a lot of the research that they do and they do a great job.

MR. EDELMAN: No, because I think they're doing more kind of basic research support, and this is a much more operational focus.

Q Is that an office, or is it just one of the tasks your going give them?

MR. EDELMAN: It's a group of people within the policy planning office, essentially.

Q What's the appropriate thing to call them?

MR. EDELMAN: You know, they belong to Ryan. You'll have to ask him. I'm not really sure what to call them.

Q We are very likely to write, you know, this Office of Strategic Future is likely to grab attention because it is a weird name.

MR. EDELMAN: We'll get you the -- we'll get you the answer.

Q I would like to be accurate.

MR. EDELMAN: It may just be a task within policy planning that they've got people working on.

Q You know, my editor's eyes tend to roll when we do things like reorganization.

MR. EDELMAN: I would hope so! I would hope so. (Laughter.) This should be a very boring subject. I'm surprised any of you bothered to show up, actually. (Laughter.)

Q Stepping back, can you just summarize why you think it's important and what will this enable the Pentagon to do that, you know, it hasn't?

MR. EDELMAN: What I think we hope it will do is help us work more efficiently and effectively with our colleagues interagency to develop better interagency partnerships to pursue a global war on terror that, it's quite clear, requires more than just the Department of Defense, you know, to accomplish the nation's aims in that war, and secondly, to help us focus more on developing both the capabilities we need for the joint force to fight that war and to build better international partnerships.

MR. EDELMAN: And I think your editor's absolutely right. This is an eye-glazing subject.

Q Could you explain to us what you see and what the interagency problems have been? It's now, you know, sort of conventional wisdom DOD doesn't play well with others in this war, and it's a big problem. What did you see as the problems that you're trying to solve?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, it might not surprise you that I don't agree with that. (Laughter.) You know, I think the relations among myself and my State and NSC colleagues have been remarkably smooth. It doesn't mean that the agencies don't have their own points of view. They do. You would, I think, all be appalled if we had the same point of view, and you'd all be criticizing us for suffering from groupthink.

So it's a good thing that we have, you know, different institutional points of view. The important thing is that when we come together interagency, we can agree on ways to move forward effectively to deal with whatever the policy challenge is, particularly that day. And we hope that this reorganization will make that, you know, easier to do and, you know, have even less friction.

Q Has the problem been what you said before, just you don't know where to go, how to navigate the other's bureaucracy?

MR. EDELMAN: I think that's been a bit of an issue in the past. There were other issues too that were obvious to anybody who's read any of the many works -- the growing bookshelf of works that have come out on the first administration and its various interagency problems. I think there's at least one author sitting around the table. (Laughter.)

Q Can I try and shoot you a policy question, before you head out the door, on your old bailiwick Turkey?

General Ralston was appointed today to be special envoy for PKK-related affairs. Can you talk a bit more broadly about Turkish concerns that the U.S. is not doing enough in Kurdistan to deal with the PKK problem and how that might address that issue?

MR. EDELMAN: Well, I'm going to really give you the same, you know, same answer I gave Bill. I'm really here to talk about this. I mean, I can tell you I think Joe Ralston's an inspired choice for this and he'll be working closely with my colleagues at State and NSC and with us. And I've already spoken to him and I think he understands the challenge very, very well for how we deal with a whole set of issues that I think will serve him well as he goes forward.


Additional Links

Stay Connected