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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the New York Times

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 12, 2002

(Interview with Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, New York Times. Also participating were Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, and Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Rumsfeld: What's up?

Q: Well, as always, we appreciate the time to come in and chat with you. We didn't know if there was anything in particular on your agenda today, but as you know when we've spoken before I've been especially interested in your thinking and rethinking about when this nation should commit the armed forces to combat and I know you've done lots of serious thinking about that. I didn't know whether that could be a topic to start our discussion this morning.

Rumsfeld: Why don't we end with that? I -- last night, thinking you might ask about that, took that document from a year and a half ago, two years ago, and tweaked it. Not in a major way, but I made 20 or 30 little edits in grammar and a couple of places in substance. I'll give you a fresh copy of that so that you've got the right revision two of it. So why don't we end with that because she's typing it.

Q: All right.

Q: If we can have a moment to look at it because I imagine there might be some things we want to inquire about or --

Rumsfeld: Oh, yeah. You're welcome to. I don't think the changes are anything that are notable. I feel better about it, but then I'm a tinkerer. Why don't we end with that?

Q: Fair enough.

One thing I wanted to ask about, we've spoken before and you've said some things publicly about your desire to use special operations forces in a more broad manner in the global war on terror and I know the Defense Science Board just finished a study -- I don't know whether it's reached your desk yet -- about special operations and joint forces and counterterrorism. Have you seen that? It was their summer study. They come up with a brand new idea called proactive preemption operation groups where it would be new ways to sort of make terrorists respond as we go out. It would have capabilities for intelligence surge. It would reach out to a lot of retirees, former special forces, former intelligence to be available.

Rumsfeld: I haven't seen it. It may have arrived in the office somewhere but I don't recall looking at it.

Q: You were sort of at the 80 percent point of a decision about Special Operations Command and its role in the global war on terror. Have you moved beyond that to anything more specific since the last time we spoke?

Rumsfeld: I don't think we have, have we Pete? We've had meetings. It's been kind of an iterative process. I think we've had three meetings --

Pace: We have. And because a lot of the terrorist cells are small and because they move frequently we really need to have a flexible organization that allows us to get the intelligence, analyze it and act on it inside the time that that particular group or target is still in that spot. So General Holland is really working that hard to come forward to the Secretary with ways to be adaptive and flexible in the future.

Rumsfeld: It's complicated because you have, depending on what country it's in. You may have a friendly country, you may have a non-friendly country. You could have a friendly country that, as in the case of Pakistan, has areas of the country, the so-called tribal areas, where they have a different relationship with the local government than they do in the bulk of the country. So there's another dimension to it.

Some of it is law enforcement in the friendly country; some of it -- you may have a friendly country that's skilled and you may have a friendly country that's less skilled. The ways you can approach it are therefore varied. You can rely totally on someone else, someone else's military; you can rely totally on someone else's law enforcement capability; you can train other countries like we've tried to do and help in a couple of instances; you can get permission from a country to work with them; or you can get permission from a country to do something totally by yourself; or you may end up with a country that's friendly but has large ungoverned areas, and that's a complication, a distinctive situation where they really don't have control over parts of it.

So there's all kinds of pieces. There's also the problem of the way that terrorist networks are using border areas. Therefore, you get into the question of hot pursuit so you need to discuss with the other neighboring countries the risk that because they're systematically using borders to advantage themselves against enforcement procedures, that you need to talk to other countries about what you'd be permitted to do in those circumstances.

Pete also mentioned the fact that all the stuff in the press about what we do and how we do it, and because we have done things, they've gone to school on that and they've learned how we've done things and changed their approaches and techniques. They've read the newspapers and the television and listened to the television and learned things they have to do to be effective in denial and deception.

Q: What would you envision --

Rumsfeld: One last thought.

Q: I'm sorry.

Rumsfeld: The other thing about it is, Pete put a time element to it. Because these are small elements, they can move frequently. You have to be able to do things much more rapidly than one normally would have had to do things if you're dealing with a different type of a target or a different type of challenge.

Pace: In previous wars your special operations forces are kind of your advanced force operations. They go in, they do the special things that need to be done to facilitate introduction of larger forces. In this particular war, that part worked very well in Afghanistan, but it was also realized the benefit and the need for sustained special operations which has not been a requirement in the past. So we really need to look at the capabilities we have today, how we can use those capabilities differently, and what new capabilities are needed to be able to do these small cell operations, and that's what Charlie's doing right now, looking for the ways, a mindset change on the toys we have so to speak, and also what are the things we need to get in order to be more effective.

Rumsfeld: The amount of time it takes from the time you have some reason to think there is something you could do that would be effective in helping to defend the country and when that opportunity disappears is not like it is with big targets -- armies, navies and air forces. It's not months and years, it's hours and days which requires a good deal of, in some instances, prepositioning, in some instances quick reaction, in some instances very small footprint. A different skill set than had been the pattern previously.

Q: I guess I was just looking to see what you might envision. Is it going to be a much larger command? General Holland has apparently talked about requesting a larger budget, increasing the number of people being able to deploy --

Rumsfeld: The budget would flow from the decision as to what role that particular element of the defense establishment ought to play and what role other elements of the defense establishment or other elements of government ought to play, and that's yet to be thought through. The budget piece of it will kind of follow logically behind what the role is going to be.

Pace: It doesn't necessarily have to be larger. This is very much an environment inside of which 6, 10, 12 guys who have moved quickly can have major impact. It could be that -- We're not at that place yet to give that kind of recommendation to the Secretary.

Rumsfeld: One thing we do have to do, though. Because these special operations and special forces people are so good at what they do, we've been using them for things that other people could be doing and could be trained to do. So if you think of a continuum, a spectrum, you may have special forces weighed over in this area as one edge. You can move that and bring some other people closer to it to do certain functions.

For example, training of other forces is the kind of thing that the special operations and special forces people are very good at, but they don't have to be the ones that do that. We can get so-called regular forces up to speed to do those kinds of things. That's another way to free up people with those special skills.

Q: I wonder if we could kind of take the discussion in a direction, obviously there's been a lot of talk about the use of force in future contingencies, perhaps even with Iraq, and looking at what it would take in terms of numbers to adequately prepare the battlefield for what might come obviously, as you said, if the President made the decision. But also looking ahead for what might happen next and how that kind of play, that kind of thinking might also drive some of the conception around numbers.

Rumsfeld: In the special operations --

Q: It could be in special operations but also conventional forces, too.

Rumsfeld: We are continuing to try to reduce the number of people in uniform who are doing things that people in uniform need not do. We're doing it by pulling them back from a whole set of activities which is over time increasing our capability. It's increasing the tooth part of the end strength and reducing the tail part. There were just an awful lot of things we were doing that we need not be doing with uniformed personnel. Civilians can do it, contractors can do it, or things need not be done.

We're trying to get Congress to pass legislation, for example, to allow us to use civilians for force protection here in the United States which has been prohibited by law. We need that flexibility.

Q: If I could sharpen Eric's question just a bit. On the House Armed Services Committee a couple of weeks ago you were asked about Iraq. It was a big topic, of course. You said some of the tension in the planning is that the military traditionally and for very good reasons likes to have what you call belts and suspenders because they are [inaudible] what's risked in that manner. You and the Afghan campaign showed that given new technology, new uses, new thinking you can bring decisive force perhaps in less overwhelming numbers. This I think has led to a debate in the press, perhaps incorrectly, about where there is push-back or resistance in the services. Eric and I worked very hard to talk to very senior levels. We have found nobody at the senior ranks who disagrees with what's going on but there are questions about what are the proper numbers, how do you do this to do the job and protect your forces. It's that kind of active debate, right?

Pace: We're doing what we're calling a operational availability study for the Secretary. All the services, the Vice Chiefs, are all involved in this to take a look at the national capability, military capability, and how quickly you might be able to deliver those capabilities some place. So that generically if you can deliver five divisions anywhere in the world in 90 days, might you have the same impact by getting three divisions there in 30 days, because speed is a force enhancement, force multiplier, and given today's ship capabilities and today's airlift capabilities, you can get the force there in a certain amount of time. We're trying to work through the delta that might give us fewer troops but in a faster time that allow you to have concentrated power that will have the same effect as waiting longer with a bigger force might have.

Rumsfeld: There's another piece of it, of course, which we're all familiar with. That is the question of lethality. If you were comfortable a decade or two decades ago with "X" number of things -- ships, tanks, aircraft -- and you've got your measure as to numbers of those things, and you fail to look at lethality where you end up with precision-guided munitions which can give you ten times the lethality that a dumb weapon might. I wouldn't want to use those numbers. But just as an example. The same thing is true with an airplane with its capabilities.

So looking at what was overwhelming force a decade or two decades ago, today you can have overwhelming force conceivably with lesser numbers because the lethality is equal to or greater than before.

Q: There's an intelligence component too, isn't there? That as your certainty rises about targets -- say whether it's weapons of mass destruction, SCUDs, or where Saddam Hussein is sleeping tonight, the numbers of forces required to take out those targets drops significantly.

Rumsfeld: Exactly. I mean you look at what happened in Afghanistan when we got folks on the ground who could target. It changed things dramatically.

Q: Are you comfortable with the intelligence you're getting out of Iraq as far as weapons of mass destruction, leadership targets, those sorts of things?

Rumsfeld: I don't know any user of intelligence that's ever satisfied. The appetite is insatiable. One wants perfect visibility into everything including minds, people's minds, as well as things that aren't even observable because they're underground and are not known completely. No one's ever satisfied with intelligence.

Q: But given that where would you asses you are on a scale in terms of assessing the political will of the leadership there, or the political will to fight especially the Special Republican Guards?

Rumsfeld: We get a lot of information, I would say a lot of [inaudible]. You drop a plum line through all of it and you can be encouraged, but it doesn't mean you should be. You still have to prepare for the worst and make assumptions that there will be a greater degree of -- You have go be realistic that you simply can't know how things are going to shake out in terms of people's reaction.

I guess in Desert Storm they said 70,000 or 80,000 people switched sides in a matter of days, two or three days.

Q: How do you assess -- maybe General Pace can address this -- assess the capability of the Special Republican Guards, particularly in an urban warfare study, something you have personal experience in.

Pace: The Special Republican Guards are clearly the most capable of Iraq's forces. When we plan for operations we're going to plan worst case, so to speak, that they will stand and defend, but the plans will be flexible enough so that if they in fact do what they did last time on the regular force side which is surrender in large numbers, that would facilitate their surrendering and take advantage of that. But you need to have a plan that will be capable of overcoming the most severe resistance while being flexible enough to handle something less than that.

With regard to their ability in the cities to fight, again the Special Republican Guards are the most loyal, and I wouldn't assess their particular capability to be any greater or any less than any other army -- I'm not sure I'm addressing your question.

Q: I just wondered if intelligence showed that actions in training as the American military does for urban combat, obviously the new Joint Pub out on this reflects the new thinking on this. Is there indication that the Iraqis have been able to maintain their training in that particular area? And if they haven't, what does that maybe say about their ability to hold and defend a city?

Pace: I think we should assume that they have trained to that capability. Without knowing whether or not they will, and not getting into specifics of how we might prevent them from doing that. We certainly need to have that in our calculations of what power we're going to need and the types of forces we're going to need to deal with that.

Q: One officer who shared some thoughts with me said that if we have to fight in the cities of Iraq that means we failed somewhere else along the way. Does that concern you? It this an area of serious concern, urban warfare? And do you think there's been adequate training and preparation of the American military?

Pace: Let me try and answer that question. If I don't get to your point come on back at me.

When you say concern, I think you're talking about whether or not we're concerned as to whether or not we can handle that kind of combat.

Q: Right.

Pace: So I'm not concerned about the U.S. military's ability to fight in any climate or any place.

We would like to prevent combat in certain areas and we would arrange ourselves on the battlefield in a way to try to prevent that. But you cannot know what he's going to do before a battle. You cannot know what a thinking enemy is going to do in any particular situation.

So if we got into the situation where there was combat in the city, I'm comfortable that our forces know how to do that even though we prefer to prevent that from happening.

Does that answer your question?

Q: It does, General. Thank you.

Rumsfeld: Every question on Iraq ought to be preceded by the reality that there is no decision to do anything. As is appropriate we have to plan for lots of contingencies around the world. We have ongoing planning right now in a number of parts of the world for things that conceivably could happen that would be adverse to our country. The discussion we're having ought not to presume anything.

Q: We have that caution tattooed into our forehead, I assure you.

On the contingencies, after the strike or explosion or whatever it was on the French tanker in the Gulf, are there discussions, have you made a decision about oil tanker escorts?

Rumsfeld: Ever since the Cole, I wasn't here then but certainly since I've been here, there's been a great deal of attentiveness to the threat that can occur from small boats. I've seen so many threat warnings and cautions that I don't know how we could layer any more on, do you?

Pace: I don't. In fact the shipping companies, the ship itself was designed to be able to absorb that kind of either an accident or some kind of a mine or something like that. But when you look at the ship itself, the compartmentation in that ship absorbed that explosion very well.

Q: Are we at the point where there are discussions of reflagging or assigning U.S. Navy to escort oil tankers?

Rumsfeld: I haven't heard a word of any changes --

Pace: Nor have I.

Rumsfeld: -- beyond the very high level of training and preparation and caution that has gone on over a period of, to my knowledge, 21 months.

Q: I'd like to take you back to the scenarios that many administrations have talked about this week of a post-Hussein Iraq. You've talked in some of your comments and testimony, if Saddam were taken out, go into exile, if under some circumstance there were to be a coup, I guess I'm wondering what would be the Administration's reaction, your opinion, if there were to be a military coup that deposed Saddam, but not necessarily end up with a regime that can meet the criteria that has been laid out by yourself and other senior administration officials? Would you still hold that regime --

Rumsfeld: First of all, what I think isn't -- it's what the President and the country and the other coalition partners would make judgments about all of that.

It seems to me that the way to answer your question without me answering it, but you can answer it yourself, is that if you think of what the President said, he has said repeatedly the task is to disarm that country and for them not to be a threat to their neighbors. So the short answer to your question is, I would think, that anything that changed the regime from one thug to another and didn't disarm the country would obviously not have met the test. If Saddam Hussein were to wake up in the morning and decide to prefer to live elsewhere and he took with him his family and his regime, the small number of associates who have obviously been involved with his repression and development of these programs and left and a different regime was there that did not want weapons of mass destruction and did not want to invade its neighbors, did not want to have relationships with terrorist networks, that obviously would change the scene dramatically.

Q: What if it wasn't that clear? Is there a time period where they'd be tested essentially?

Rumsfeld: I can't answer that. It's really for others to make those judgments. But the two cases I've described I think are the opposite ends of the poles and there's perfect clarity in my view as to what I would think, and that would be a delightful outcome. Nobody with any sense wants to end up engaged in a conflict if there's an alternative route which that would be.

Q: But in a post-Saddam environment where the key goal would be the disarming process, and Torie talked at the podium yesterday about how that could take a long time. You've talked in testimony on the Hill I think it could take a year or more. Clearly, it would seem that you would want an interim government in place or an administration, if you will, that would be able to maintain a high level of security for you to perform those functions. It would certainly seem like a military administration, coalition military perhaps, would be the best way to ensure that kind of stability over that time period. Is that the current thinking at least in the building on that?

Rumsfeld: First of all these discussions are underway and they're in a very preliminary state, except for a few things. One is, it's very clear that everyone agrees that we, in and out of our government, that it's preferable to have Iraq stay as a single piece and that would be a first principle. Second, that it be a country without weapons of mass destruction. Third, that it be a country that would not invade its neighbors. And fourth, that it be a country that did not repress its citizens, and that the diverse elements in the country be able to participate in the functioning of that country.

In terms of a particular template that they would ultimately end up with as to how those things would be manifested by way of state and local governments and a federal government or national government I should use the word, rather than prejudging federal, those are things that the Iraqi people would have to sort through and there isn't one model in my mind that fits everybody. Just as the Loya Jurga fashioned something that was distinctive there, I would guess that over a period of time there would be a process that would do that for Iraq.

In the mean time, obviously, you're quite right. If there were a conflict, if the decision were made for it to be a conflict or if Saddam Hussein left and if something else was to take his place, there would have to be a process of disarming and that is going to take some time.

They have disbursed widely their capabilities, WMD capabilities. They have put them underground. They have taken documentation and spread it around. It will take a good deal of time. During that period, needless to say, there would have to be humanitarian assistance, there would have to be various types of civil works to repair things that had been upset because of the conflict if a conflict occurred, and then you would begin transitioning at some point to something other than that kind of an activity.

Q: But you'd agree that probably the best model would be some kind of military administration to ensure that kind of stability? Or do you feel that could be a rather short tenure that could be transitioned to an Iraqi --

Rumsfeld: In life, the facts on the ground tend to determine what makes sense. Until you get there, which you aren't and there's no indication that you will necessarily be there, but if you were to be there the facts on the ground would drive how long it took, how complicated it was. You worry that there could be -- You have to anticipate, as Pete says, all kinds of things that could be unfortunate. Mischief by a neighbor, ethnic differences, a last-ditch effort by Saddam Hussein. He could even use chemicals on his own people again like he did before and try to blame it on others. So there are lots of things you'd have to be alert for and attentive to.

Q: Are you aware if senior defense officials working under you have ordered the occupation manual the military used in the administration of post-war Germany and Japan to be translated into Arabic?

Rumsfeld: I can't imagine that. No. I just can't imagine it.

Q: Okay.

Rumsfeld: I can imagine that somebody might have gone to the library and said what are the different models that have been used in history, but --

Q: -- done apparently.

Rumsfeld: But not everyone's old enough to remember. But I just can't imagine someone translating it into Arabic. That's quite amusing.

No, one size doesn't fit all. Whatever is done in Iraq is going to be different from Afghanistan and it certainly is going to be different from Japan or Germany. I can't imagine that. I find it amusing.

Q: [inaudible]

Rumsfeld: I do. I do.

There is, those are the edits I made last night so they're not overwhelming. They're kind of -- you don't have to go through with a finger. They're --


Rumsfeld: I should put in the word generally in front of something, and then I say "even with a broad coalition you can't do anything". So there's nothing -- You're welcome to look at it.

Q: This is March 2001, updated October 2002?

Rumsfeld: It is. Last night I fiddled with it because I knew you were coming in.

I don't know what I should do with these things. My problem with them is that I did this when I first came in in January. I sat down and I said you better have a damn good reason if you're going to put somebody's life at risk. What ought we to be thinking about? So I started writing. Then in March I had them typed up.

I liked them. I felt kind of good that I had done that. I don't know, I showed them to you and Dick and others. They aren't classified.

Q: They are not classified.

Rumsfeld: They are not classified. I've talked to the President about them.

[Excerpt deleted by groundrule]

Pace: If you put yourself in uniform and you read this, I came in in October last year and the Secretary gave me a copy of this to read as his think piece about the way he thinks through things. Put your uniform on and read this and you have the responsibility to make recommendations to the Secretary and the President on employment of force, and you say this is how the senior civilian in the Department of Defense is thinking before PFC Pace goes in harm's way. This document really makes you feel very very comfortable and very good that these are tick points that he's using for those kinds of decisions. I commend reading this to you as if you were a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division or a marine in the 1st Marine Division. And you were reading this and this is the way that your most senior boss in this department is thinking about.

Q: Did you have any suggestions after you read this, slight revisions perhaps? Making it clearer or stronger?

Pace: It was over a year ago and I remember coming back to the Secretary and making some comments, but I don't recall any substantive comments other than to probably say close to what I just said to you right now. But I've clearly had the opportunity to make those comments. I'm very very comfortable with the clarity and the message.

Q: But this has helped you as you've worked through first Afghanistan and now Iraq --

Rumsfeld: It does. I pick it up and read it every couple of months when something comes up. I guess an old Navy pilot looks at checklists -- takeoff checklist, landing checklist.

Q: Mr. Secretary, if you were to describe what's important about this to you, again, this was first written in March. You were new in the job for the second time but America was not at war. 9/11 certainly changed America's view of its national security in the world. And now, even though the President's made no decision, lots of activity in this building is looking to potential military action against Iraq.

What are the lessons of this document, or what are the important tick marks to you to keep you on your plum line as we move ahead?

Rumsfeld: [excerpt deleted by groundrule] What's important about it to me? It's important because it is such a major decision to put people's lives at risk that to do it without forcing yourself to think through every conceivable aspect of it as to what the rationale is, what the goal is, how it ought to be conducted, it would be inexcusable to not have gone through that process in my view because the use of force is the last resort, not the first.

Another thing it seems to me that you're required to do and that's to sit down and create a list of all the things you can imagine can go wrong. What are all the intuitive and non-intuitive things that conceivably can happen. I do that too. I've got a list of all of those things that I think about. I use that as a tick list with the Chiefs and with the CINCs and with Pete and Dick and the senior folks helping me. Ask those questions. What about this? What about that? Some of them are far-fetched, but life is far-fetched. Who would have thought we would be in Afghanistan? So I do that type of thing too.

As I say, it's probably just Rumsfeld. That's just the way I am.

Q: What's your biggest concern? If you were kept awake at night by one of them, which one's number one?

Rumsfeld: I guess I don't want to say.

Q: You do make an interesting point here about military resources, that to achieve the goals you have to have the sources available, that you can't be committed elsewhere. I know the Joint Staff has run some very significant wargames looking at stresses in the system. The things that tend to keep coming up are tanker lift, C4ISR. Are you comfortable with the levels that we have now?

Rumsfeld: Pete and his folks did a cut and it's rough, but we first looked at our new strategy and our force sizing construct and they did a cut at that. It came out rough. Encouraging, reaffirming all the effort we put into it last year in fashioning the new strategy and in fashioning the force sizing construct. There's a lot more work to be done but --

You describe how you feel.

Pace: We took the strategy and applied forces to it several different ways. If this happened first, if this happened second. Took what we thought would be the most stressful combination of military requirements around the world, applied the forces we have today against that most stressful strategy and had appropriate numbers of forces. So we came away in a gross estimate that yes, this strategy is executable with the size force and the type of things we have now.

Embedded in that, though, as you do that, you go down to the second, third and fourth level, you start finding individual items that if you could have more of one kind of thing than another kind of thing that is useful, and that's what we feed into the budget process decisions about resource allocations.

So I'm very comfortable with force-to-strategy mix right now, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to participate in the process that will make it even better as we go through this budget process.

Q: You mentioned early on, General, you were talking about this -- exercise is probably the wrong word. Looking at national capabilities as to how you can compress the idea of lethality and applying force from a large force over a long period of time, and a smaller force and a shorter period of time. How does that fit into that larger thinking and what's the timetable for that particular review?

Pace: It really is a cyclic event and part of what I call the operational availability study. It started with today and exactly what I just said. The most difficult things we can see happening today and how today's force would look with [inaudible]. To know where we are, to get a feel for okay, it takes "X" number of days to get "Y" number of divisions deployed to that particular country. Then as part of the iterative discussion between the Secretary and his commanders in that region, if we were able to move a force faster, if we had faster ships, if we have more airplanes or whatever the mix of transportation. If we were able to craft that for you, Mr. Commander, how would that impact the way that you're planning on fighting this fight? If instead of having five divisions in three months, if we could give you three divisions in 30 days, how would that impact the way you would come forward to the Secretary with your recommendations on how to fight that war?

Q: Are you there? Do you have fully developed --

Pace: We're in the process of running those iterations right now. So what would happen here, and this will continue over time, is the chainsaw cut was a first look at where we are today. In between now and the submission of this budget coming forward to the Secretary's recommendations about some of the low-hanging fruit that we see as [inaudible]. After this budget is submitted and before the next March/April timeframe when the Secretary gives his guidance to his Secretaries of the departments on what issues he's looking at for next year's budget, we will come forward with the next iteration of wargames and he will have had the opportunity to sit down with his combatant commanders and discuss the possibilities of speed versus --

Q: Is this a concept that General Franks or Admiral Fargo or whatever combatant commander out there could apply by the end of the year? Or is tied up in a budget cycle?

Pace: No, it is very much a part of how we can assist them in their thinking through their war plans for their responsibilities. It will be literally year after year after year of --

Q: I understand the long-term implications. I'm wondering can something be applied now using this thinking in the next couple of months.

Pace: Yes. Especially the concept of speed of deployment so that the commanders can come into the Secretary and say to him, Mr. Secretary, if you can give me this size force in this amount of time I can get the same job done as I'm telling you I need this size force in this amount of time.

Q: Has this been made available to General Franks and has he taken it on board?

Pace: It's been made available -- We briefed the combatant commanders when they came in for the last meeting with the Secretary. In fact I'm going out again with this team the last part of this month to tell them what we've learned since the last time we talked to them about a month and a half ago. So we are being collaborative in sharing these thoughts so when the commanders come in to meet with the Secretary --

Q: Is General Franks now able to incorporate this thinking into his current planning? Is that correct?

Pace: Let me try to be precise for you. He can, knowing what he's doing now planning wise, he can take a look at if I had this capability I could do a particular thing perhaps faster or with a smaller force. He comes and talks to the Secretary about that and if the Secretary agrees with him then the decision then becomes do we spend that part of the budget to buy that capability. Whatever it is. Faster ships, more planes, more lethal but smaller forces, all those combinations.

So it won't impact tomorrow but today's planning does impact this cycle.

Q: -- the contingency that would begin say in January 2003? Using existing resources, redeployed and marshaled in a different way than you normally think about it, understanding that there's a broader timeframe and broader timetable down the road to do this in a more regular scheduled way.

Pace: You have both the opportunity to use today's resources more effectively and more efficiently. That's the mindset that goes with today's capabilities. And also gives us the opportunity to think through if I had this other capability, how that would impact how I would fight in the future.

Q: Mr. Secretary, if he comes to you with that request to use that capability on a contingency planning basis in the near future?

Pace: Ask that again.

Q: You've explained now what's been made available to General Franks and other combatant commanders. You've said it would then be incumbent upon a combatant commander such as General Franks to come back to the Secretary and request basically that he be able to use that authority and capability in his planning, and my question is has he actually done that?

Pace: That makes it sound like there is a group here --

Rumsfeld: Mechanical.

Pace: -- and a group there. We have representatives from each of the combatant commanders doing this with us. We have General Franks' guys embedded with us. We have Admiral Fargo's guys embedded with us.

Rumsfeld: It isn't a start/stop. It's a continuum.

Take a look at those papers. If you look at the second page it says, under new strategic direction, the second bullet on the left it says "Contingency Planning Guidance. Improving speed, relevance of plans."

Now look at the two of them just like that. Take the first one. That's how it first looked in the first 18 months. This is kind of like the guidelines. I asked myself one day what have we done in the first year and a half? This leads me to what we ought to do in the next year and a half. But if you look at this, on the accomplishments page is the war on terrorism, improved readiness, quadrennial defense review with a new defense strategy, a new force sizing construct, and a new risk balancing focus. Balancing investments to meet risks, whether it's transformation risks, modernization risks, warfighting risks, personnel risks which the building had no capability to do. Nuclear posture review. Fundamental changes. A restructured missile defense program and withdrawal. Space Commission recommendations. Switch to realistic budgeting and cost estimates. Taking a couple of steps out of the program budgeting process. Then a series of key decisions.

On the next page are things that -- These are all done in 18 months and they are going to have an enormous effect on this department and the defense establishment and the country over the next decade. They are -- I went through them in about 20 seconds and each one of them was the result of an investment of hours and hours and hours by the senior military and the senior civilian leadership that produced fundamental changes in how this institution functions, does its business, and looks at things.

Go to the initiative page. The new Unified Command Plan, probably the biggest changes in 20-30 years. New strategic direction. The DoD role in political/military strategy. Defense Planning Guidance this year. The Contingency Planning Guidance is so different the way we have revised it.

We had contingencies, many handfuls, for every conceivable thing around the world that fit pre-9/11 and were stale. That is to say that if you get briefed on them they had been, the fact and assumptions had been set in the '95, '96, '97 period. They then were developed over a period of '98, '99. They then were reviewed in '99 or 2000. But not the assumptions. Just the logistics.

What's changed in the world that requires us to rearrange how we proceed, but not a fundamental new plan? We decided to shorten this process, not have a two-year cycle based on assumptions that are four years old and two years of work to get there, but rather to get to a six month to a 12 month cycle, have it be an iterative process between the combatant commander and the Department of Defense -- civilian and military leadership here. Force risks to be elevated.

If you make a decision down at the combatant commander level that it's an unacceptable risk to do something and that risk isn't balanced against a risk in a different area of responsibility, everyone's going to avoid the risk. The President and the leadership of this department needs to look at them together and you can't do it if they're done in isolation.

So now there's an intensive iterative process that's taking place. It forces a look at the assumptions. If the assumptions are central. We looked at some yesterday on a briefing that had nothing to do with a particular -- a little bit to do with a contingency. And there wasn't a real hard assumption page and we needed to get that done. We needed to begin with that. All talk about them and get them up on the table.

Q: When you say assumptions, one assumption could be for example it takes this many days to move a heavy armor division from point A to point B, something like that?

Pace: No, not that kind of assumption. Your assumptions really have to do with what you expect the enemy to do or not do; what you expect your friends to do or not do. When military planners use the term assumption, if that assumption is not true, this particular plan cannot be executed this way. So if you don't get your assumptions right then the plan you have is not a good plan. That doesn't mean you can't do the mission, it just means if your assumptions change then something in your plan had to change to adjust to that.

Q: But General, this balance of risk has been quite prominent in the public debate in talking about Iraq. Again, no decision's been made, but on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, the assumptions about the requirement to deal with the Iraqi threat may prevent the American military from adequately controlling other threats in the global war on terror elsewhere around the globe. Is that the kind of balancing risk that you're talking about here?

Rumsfeld: We look at all of those things, and Pete can addressed it because they've done some good hard thinking about the extent to which the United States can or cannot manage other likely risks and the answer comes out that we can.

Pace: Without getting too specific about that --

Q: You can if you want.

Pace: I know. [Laughter] Our responsibility to the Secretary and the President is to say these are the other things that might happen, this is how we would deal with those, and if in our planning we think that one of those things did not have enough resources left to cover it then we would come forward and say we need to adjust either the basic plan itself or how we're allocating to these other things because this particular risk is unacceptable.

Rumsfeld: What we need to do is to go to the President and say is this risk acceptable.

Pace: That was my next point. [Laughter] I love it. The military judgment would be this is not what we would recommend to you and we bring forward the risk, but we don't accept or deny risk. We present the risks to the Secretary and the President and they accept whatever risk --

Rumsfeld: Let me give you an example. You're at home and you're meeting with your family and your resources are finite.

Q: Sad but true.

Rumsfeld: And you say look, we've got one car. The roof's leaking.

Q: You're pretty close.

Rumsfeld: Do we want to buy another car or do we want to get the roof fixed? If we don't get another car and I drive the car to work and there's a scare and the spouse has to go pick up the kids at school, she doesn't have a car. What is the risk? You're balancing unlikes -- apples and oranges. It's those kinds of things.

If they're all decided as though resources are not finite, then there are no risks and there's just enormous waste.

Think of Desert Storm. We brought back nine-tenths of everything they took over. Why did they take ten times more than they needed? Because no one wanted to accept any risk. And no one was looking at it and saying what risks would we like to accept? And people were able to order three times the total worldwide inventory of various things because you never know.

Now somebody higher than that has to look at it and say gee, let's do it this way. But you have to go up to the boss and say are you willing to accept this risk? If you aren't, let's get the money to do this or let's not do these other things.

Q: But General Pace, is it your professional military advice, your charge under Title 10 to the Secretary, to the President, without talking about the specific concepts on the table, those classified, that the military is ready and able to manage the risks of the things on the table in front of you?

Pace: Yes.

Q: Is that the unified opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

Pace: Yes.

Q: But has it taken some time working through this new understanding of risk and risk management for the Chiefs who maybe have been schooled in some of the old thoughts, maybe having to prepare and have more on hand than you necessarily need because you want to prepare for the worst case, as you described to us here?

Pace: We are prepared for the worst case.

Q: You are. Okay.

Rumsfeld: You can never prepare for every conceivable thing, but if you're asking have we looked at worst case and developed a comfort level in terms of worldwide capabilities, the answer is yes.

Q: In terms of a contingency, you seem to be criticizing those who went to the Gulf War with a lot more than they really needed because --

Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm not criticizing anything. I'm just saying what -- I was stating a fact. I sincerely did not mean it as a criticism. And I'm sure that we'll find that we've done that in Afghanistan, that we've taken more of something than was necessary. You don't have perfect knowledge. You're bound to do those kinds of things.

But I was analyzing not what happened but what caused it to happen. The mindset.

Q: You're trying to change that mindset so that in future contingencies you still plan for worst case, but it's not so extraordinary or so perhaps exaggerated that you --

Rumsfeld: I guess like anyone else you're trying to learn from the past. You're trying to learn so it's always lessons learned. How can you get better at what you're doing? How can you plan more precisely?

Q: But General going back to my earlier question, has there been kind of an education going on here for the Chiefs in terms of this? Maybe that's, to get back to one of Thom's earlier questions, some of these reports talk about divisions which we don't believe, is that perhaps the genesis of some of this?

Pace: I really can't -- Let me try answering it this way and you tell me whether or not I'm answering the question.

There's a need to plan combat operations someplace in the world. The combatant commander is going to take that requirement and do his planning. He's going to bring that into the Tank with the Chiefs and he's going to show it to us and we're going to look at it and we're going to have discussions about it. We're going to ask a lot of questions. If you had more of this or less of that. If you went left instead of right. All the kinds of questions that guys literally sitting around a table like this are going to have a discussion about what might go wrong, what's the worst thing that can happen here? If we do this, what are the risks elsewhere? That's just a natural iterative process that you would expect your senior military guys to be doing with each other to look at a particular military requirement.

In that process --

Rumsfeld: Do you mean requirement or task?

Pace: Task. Thank you, sir.

Rumsfeld: The word requirement gets used a lot.

Pace: And too loosely.

So you go through, and honest folks sitting around the table are going to bring out different comments. The fact that there is honest, open dialogue I think is healthy, not divisive. At the end of the day what you have is value added to that particular process. Then the Secretary in his discussions with the Joint Chiefs and with the combatant commander is more value added and we go through these iterations because each of us sees this from a different place. I bring 35 years as a Marine. I see some things that the Air Force guys don't see. The Air Force guys bring 35 years as an Air Force guy. So we all see this from a different perspective. We throw our thoughts on the table. We go away and think about it. We come back in, we sit down with the Secretary, we have discussions. This goes on over time. The end product is just a better product for having been through that.

Now --

Rumsfeld: And everyone learns in the process.

Pace: You do. And then you ask questions like wait a minute, this plan was developed in 1996. Just taking one small piece of this, our precision munitions -- a plane carrying two bombs is probably going to hit two targets. Before, ten years ago, a plane carrying two bombs, dropping both of them onto one target may or may not have hit that target.

So if in fact that is true, what does that mean about the number of airplanes that we need to send to this battle, and the number of ships that we need to send carrying bombs for those planes to drop? Are those six year old plans still valid?

So when people talk about smaller force, we're not talking about less lethal. We're talking again about speed and application of decisive power at a time and place of our choosing that will have the effect. But at the same time putting enough cushion in there that should his actions be different than we're projecting -- which they will be -- that we can react and still do our job for the nation.

Q: But just --

Rumsfeld: -- had a situation where there was a new problem, a new task and there was a presentation about that new task and it had been through a couple of iterations and I saw it and Pete saw it and we looked at it and started pushing at it and asking questions and probing. Saying what's that chunk of people for? The answer came back that's a requirement. I said when was the requirement levied? Well, it's been a requirement for about ten years. Has anyone looked at that requirement in ten years? Well not really. Well let's look at that requirement. You look at it and you look at it in a post-9/11 situation and here's X-thousand of people who were reserved for a purpose that relative to the other things and things that have changed -- command structures have changed, weapons have changed. It is that type of thing that gets explored because a person down the line has been told it's a requirement. And it is until someone changes it. But is it in the true meaning of the word a requirement? No. It was. It may again be some day. But in this context it isn't. And it is that type of thing.

So here, if you take these two pages, this one little line, Contingency Planning Process, is going to have a difference. And how do we get to all this stuff? We got to all this by ten senior military plus eight more and six or eight senior civilians, five or six senior civilians, sitting in a room down the hall here for 20, 30, 40 hours on each one of these things over the past 20 months and ending up with a distinctly different way of doing things that are now drilling down through this institution in ways that it's going to change it fundamentally. And they didn't come out of the brain any of any one of those people, they came out of a learning process where people stopped and said my golly, a fresh look at this. You're right. This is different. Our circumstances are different. The weapons are different. The times are different. Our geopolitical circumstance in the world is different.

[Excerpt deleted by groundrule]

Q: Okay.

Rumsfeld: Different centuries.

[Excerpt deleted by groundrule]

Q: I'm curious. When the Iraq plan, or whatever you want to call it -- Obviously it's not a secret that you're looking at Iraq. So when this plan or document was called up from CENTCOM you talked about old assumptions. What was your sense about --

Rumsfeld: It's true of every --

Q: Absolutely.

Rumsfeld: -- contingency plan in the world. All these articles that we're unhappy or something like that with CENTCOM's work is nonsense. Utter nonsense.

Q: Not the question I was going to ask.

You talked about the need to speed it up. How old were the assumptions? How old were the requirements when that first came to you for review and --

Rumsfeld: I'd have to go back and check.

Pace: I would too. But it would be unfair to Tom Franks to make it sound like he came forward with some old thing. What he brought forward, if I remember correctly, was an explanation of the plan that's on the shelf --

Rumsfeld: It was on the shelf.

Pace: And his initial thoughts about how he was looking at changing that to make sure that he and the Secretary were kind of in a mind meld about the need to do that.

Rumsfeld: He had not prepared the plan that was on the shelf. That was --

Q: So it pre-dated General Franks taking over CENTCOM then.

Rumsfeld: Sure.

Q: Is it fair to say that the plan that's going on there now would be one of the first practical applications of this, not just certainly the innovation and risk-taking you talk about in the accomplishments, but also in the speeded up contingency planning? And that one specific example might be going back to, again, the operation availability study that you're doing of being able to mass smaller but still lethal forces in a shorter amount of time for a specific contingency? This all derives in a very specific example from this planning and thinking that's been going on at this high level among these different individuals over the last 20 months.

Pace: First of all, the operation availability may or may not determine that the right thing to do is to do smaller, faster. It is the thing we're looking at, to see whether or not it's possible.

It is very much informed by my observations of the interaction between General Franks, the Secretary and the Joint Chiefs and by virtue of seeing how that worked and how we're able to take an old plan and make it more efficient and in my mind more effective, that we ought to be providing to the Secretary a global look at that while his combatant commanders are having regional responsibilities of doing what we told them to do, which is take a look at each of their individual plans to see how they might become more efficient and how we might get them from the pre-9/11 assumptions to the post-9/11 assumptions, if I can use that term.

So each piece of this really benefits from the other, and it really is a cycle.

Rumsfeld: Eric, this institution is so big and so ponderous that -- And there is an interaction between all of these things on these two pieces of paper. It will take time for any one of the "accomplishments" let alone the initiatives to interact with each other over a cycle. My guess is it will take probably six years before the benefit of the interaction of these significant changes go through a sufficient number of cycles that all the contingency plans will have been readapted to the new unified and specified command structure with the new changes in the budgeting process, and with all of these other things here that any benefits that accrue in a relatively short period of time, say a year, are going to be, the benefits will be as much from the learning process that Tom Franks and Pete Pace and Dick Myers and Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld and others went through over the past 20 months, applying what we now think and how we now think to the new set of facts while the institution itself, which is where the real traction and power is, will take time to seat down and be effective. Is that --

Pace: It --

Q: I can understand all that institutionally, but you've got to start somewhere. What I seem to be hearing from you, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that you've got, you're on the cutting edge in one particular place because everybody's focused on a particular place right now. It's important. And here is one place where you can start applying real time some of the thinking that will ultimately seep down and affect the institution overall, commands overall. But there's one contingency that we've been talking about and circling around here today that it sounds like could be very well effected in the short term, in a matter of months, by all the thinking that's going on here.

Rumsfeld: It can't be effected by the budget change --

Q: No, no. Understood.

Rumsfeld: It can't be effected by new weapons.

Q: But I think General Pace talked about you can use existing resources --

Rumsfeld: True.

Q: -- whether they -- specific examples would be sealift, airlift, other things that are available.

Rumsfeld: I would answer it this way. I hope that the learning that we've all been going through as a result of the intense discussions and analysis and focus that we've had, will if not directly at least by osmosis benefit things we're doing currently. So I think that Pete's comment is right. There are some things that can be done near term.

I should caution you, we are working intensely on other contingency plans as well.

Q: Can we say that General Franks now has the capability at his disposal -- maybe he's asked for it, maybe he hasn't -- to deploy as many as three heavy armor divisions to the Persian Gulf within 30 days if so ordered?

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: He does not?

Rumsfeld: He was being illustrative.

Pace: Yeah. I was being illustrative.

Q: Are we just not quite there yet? The capability doesn't exist to do that?

Rumsfeld: We didn't even say that we wanted to do it. He used it as an example of a way, a new way to think of something. But you were not talking about Iraq.

Pace: No, I was not, sir.

Q: No. I realize you've been kind of circling around it, but I want to dive in here and --

Pace: What I'm saying is when we took a look at today's -- using divisions as an example. When we took a look at today's divisions and where they are and where they need to get to against today's plans, the force is sufficient and the speed with which they get there is sufficient to execute today's plans.

Now the question is as we look to the future, as we go through this budget process and we look into what do we want to buy for the force 10 or 15 years from now, what are the things that if you did buy them, if you did apply those resources, would make it possible for the commanders to do the same job more efficiently? In essence very much a discussion and an iterative process of here's where you are, what changes might we make to allow you to do that in the future?

So it's almost chicken and egg time. But we are working together. I can't tell you the specifics of that because they're classified and they should stay classified, but that's how we're going through the process. We've given the first briefing to the Secretary and the first iteration we've done is helpful to this year's budget process. We will position ourselves and continue to do the wargames to be able to make recommendations to the Secretary for next year's budget process.

At the same time that he's hearing from us on our recommendations about the budget process based on what we're doing in D.C., he's also having his commanders come in and they're talking to him about real world today, how they're changing their plans.

So when it comes to him, he's got the benefit of both his commanders telling him how they're changing today and what we're going to say to him we think will assist him in the future so he can fuse them in his own mind and allocate resources.

Rumsfeld: It is very exciting to see the connectors beginning to become more and more apparent as to how these seemingly disparate line items on these two pages begin to interconnect. And part of it is because of the connections between the people who've been doing it.

If you think of the critical element of logistics, you've got John Handy. He was here as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force all last year going through all of this with us. You talk to him and you don't have to begin at the beginning. He was there. Now with the exception of the brand new combatant commanders and the brand new Commandant of the Marines coming in, everyone else in this mix has spent so much time thinking about all of these things that they are coming up with connectors and ways to do it. It is really a -- For me, I'm interested in all aspects of this intellectually and I have found it really a very exciting time to be involved in this department and to see those things happening.

Pace: I'll give you one more example. It's dangerous to use an example because you might focus on the wrong thing, but let's just take ships that carry things that today go 20 knots, so they're going 500 miles a day. Would it be useful for the nation to have ships that carried the same cargo but went 40 knots or 60 knots? Making it 1,000 miles a day or 1,500 miles a day. And how might that impact your operational availability or capabilities anywhere in the world? And if you thought that would be useful, then you might recommend that you apply a certain amount of research dollars to hull designs that would allow you to build that kind of a ship. That's one example. Those are the kinds of things we're trying to bring to the Secretary as ways to impact capabilities and then impact longer term the war plans because we can get something there three times as fast as we can do today.

Q: Is there anything you can do now without having to go out and buy or invest in news designs, where you can use some of this new thinking to speed up the operational planning? That's what I thought you were getting at earlier.

So that for instance if the President were to order something involving Iraq the public would probably be surprised, or could be surprised that American forces could deploy to certain regions faster than they did before because you have been revising some of the old requirements and revising some of the old assumptions, still belaboring under certain restrictions because you don't have the latest designs that could increase the sufficiency, but still the mindset's already changed in these combatant commanders. Are there things you actually can do to speed up that particular kind of deployment? Is that fair?

Pace: The total tonnage that you can move from point A to point B is going to take a certain amount of time. There's a lot you can do inside what you take to that battle based on what we've learned recently. Okay? It could allow you to have more lethality sooner.

Q: Like what?

Pace: I'm not going to tell you that. But if you determine that you don't need as much logistic sustainment -- let's just use bombs. If you were to get to the point where you thought you didn't need as many bombs this time as you thought you needed last time then you wouldn't need as many ships and you wouldn't need as much time to get to the point where you were ready to go into combat.

Clarke: In answer to your question, Eric, [inaudible] people who were around in the Persian Gulf War. [Inaudible] frame of reference.

Q: It is. That's when I started covering --

Clarke: Okay --

Q: We've changed so dramatically and I think that's what you're getting at here.

Clarke: -- what the American people saw between September 11th and October 7th. Think about what moved, what got done in three and a half weeks. So I think their sense of timing, if you will, might be different than yours.

Q: But the example you're using isn't even a classified thought. You've both spoken publicly, if an individual JDAM can accomplish the mission of "X" times that many dumb bombs, then one can imagine you would have to move that same percentage fewer of weapons over a long distance.

Q: Are you pre-positioned so they're ready and they have to move a shorter distance?

Rumsfeld: There are lots of other --

Q: I guess I'm getting to things being less variable, where you have ground forces that take up heavy armor, moving people --

Q: Fuel, water.

Rumsfeld: That's tough.

Q: Shortcuts --

Rumsfeld: It really is.

We probably ought to wind this up.

[Excerpt deleted by groundrule]

Q: You've been very generous with your time. An interesting discussion. I really enjoyed it.

Rumsfeld: Yes, indeed.

Q: Thank you, sir.

[Excerpt deleted by groundrule]

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