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Remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld during a Town Hall Meeting with U.S. Troops, Balad Air Base, Iraq

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
July 12, 2006
(Extended cheers, applause.)

 

            GEN. GEORGE W. CASEY JR. (Commander, Multi-National Forces, Iraq): Thanks, everybody. Sit down, please.

And now I'm supposed to follow that with an introduction! (Laughter.)

Listen, before I introduce the secretary here, I don't get up here much, and I just want to take a moment to thank all of you outstanding men and women here for the work that you do across a whole variety of different jobs to keep us running. I think you know this is the main logistical element. And the folks here from the 3rd COSCOM and the Army Materiel Command, and the Air Force Materiel Command that do all the support that keeps the mission going all across Iraq, my hat's off to you for what you do to keep us moving. So thanks very much.

Aviation units, both Army and Air Force, engineers, doctors, civilians from Brown & Root, and Department of the Army and Air Force civilians, we couldn't do what we do here in Iraq without your support. And I say all the time that the way this job goes forward is 150,000 great men and women of the coalition each moving the ball forward in their own lane a little bit every day, and they all contribute to our success here in Iraq.

So thank you very much.

 

            Now, what do you say about a man who needs no introduction? You say: Here's your 21st secretary of Defense.

 

            Mr. Secretary. (Cheers, applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Continued cheers, applause.) Thank you, folks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

 

            General Halstead, thank you very much; General Rand. I

I'm told that every service is represented here.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hoo-ah!

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: There's some Army.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hoo-ah!!

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: There's some Air Force.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hoo-ah!!!

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: There's even some Navy.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hoo-ah!

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Is there a Marine?

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBER: Semper Fi!

 

            (Laughter, applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) All right!

 

            General Casey, thank you so much, and thank you for your superb leadership on behalf of the country and the armed forces of the United States here in this important -- critically important theater. George Casey, you are -- or your country is in debt to you, and we appreciate it. (Applause, cheers.)

 

            I am delighted to be able to be here and have a chance to thank each of you personally for your service.

 

            You're all volunteers. You're here because you want to serve your country. And you're doing it in a professional and skillful and successful way. You're doing a great job day in and day out, and I should also add that getting Zarqawi was a pretty good event also. So, thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

 

            Now, I'm going to answer some questions later on, and -- gosh, let me rephrase that. I'm going to respond to some questions. I'll -- (laughter) -- I'll answer the ones I know how to answer, and I'll throw the tough ones to the generals behind me, who know it all.

 

            Each time I come to Iraq I see changes, progress, important progress. You are -- each of you is playing an important role in this critical effort. You're making history every day, and I thank you for it.

 

            You know, in the Department of Defense we work hard on jointness and try to see that the services are working as closely together as possible. Here in Iraq you're making jointness a reality. Not only do we have Air Force pilots providing close air support for the ground troops, as they have in previous wars, but with nowhere near the coordination and precision that we see today. We also have Air Force mechanics helping to up-armor Humvees and airmen guarding Army convoys.

 

            And a word to the medical personnel who make up the theater hospitals here as well. I'm told that the survival rates for wounded patients that come through your doors are something like 96 percent. Certainly, the -- there are thousands of young Americans that we see at Bethesda and Walter Reed and Brooke Army Hospital, who would not have made it in previous wars, who are alive today because of the skill and professionalism of the people who rescue them, take them off the battlefield, and the medical folks who are so talented and skillful and dedicated.

 

            For these past three years we have called on the very best our country offers to achieve victory here in Iraq. And I want to make a few comments about what "victory" means.

 

            First and foremost, it's helping the Iraqi people take the fight to the enemy. This effort ultimately will be won by the Iraqi people over a period of time. And they're invested in this, let there be no doubt. More than a quarter of a million Iraqi security forces have now been trained and equipped by coalition forces. Increasingly, they're leading operations and taking control of their country.

 

            Millions of Iraqis have risked their lives. They support their government, to provide helpful tips to authorities so that terrorists can be captured, to volunteer in the defense of their country, and they stand in line as new recruits every day, and to vote and put in place their new government under their new constitution that they drafted and then approved in a nationwide referendum.

 

            Despite these successes and the blows that the enemy has suffered -- and there have been many -- three successful elections were certainly successes for the Iraqi people, the establishment of their representative government, the end of Zarqawi -- the enemy in Iraq, however, remains persistent and ruthless.

 

            The extremists have seen the changes that have taken place here, and they know well that a peaceful, a prosperous and a representative Iraq is a strategic defeat for them and for their vicious ideology.

 

            These enemies are not going to quit, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Their goal is to kill those who disagree -- free people. We are the very essence of what they oppose -- free people here and at home -- and they have said so regularly.

When Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa against the West as far back as 1998, he said, quote, "To kill the Americans and their allies, civilian and military, is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it," unquote.

So the question of our time for us, for you and for our countrymen is whether we fight the enemy on their terms or on ours, on our territory or on their territory, where they are on the offense or where we are on the offense. It's as straightforward as that.

When you think about it, something important, something new happened on September 11th, 2001. Up until that point, America and our allies almost exclusively reacted to what the terrorists did. Now, terrorists are being forced to react to what our coalition is doing to them. They have to worry about when and where you might strike next, and that's a critical difference. It is very simply the difference between offense and defense.

The enemy cannot win battles against our forces. They don't have a big army or a navy or an air force. Their only hope is to try to shake our will, and they will fail at that as well.

Almost daily, you and your families back home will read or hear expressions of doubt about the future of Iraq, about the work that you're doing here. There are those who seem to look for every misstep, every problem and to paint a bleak picture. But remember this -- in America's past, there have always been doubts and there have always been doubters, those who argued that because of the setbacks that come with every war and that come with every momentous venture, that the cause could not succeed, that America would fail or that it was unworthy of our nation.

 

            Early on at various times, our efforts in postwar Germany and in postwar Japan were declared failures before those two nations developed to become America's allies during the Cold War and thereafter.

 

            But the American people at every critical moment have persevered. The folks at home and the brave men and women in uniform -- they've proved the critics and the fault-finders wrong.

 

            And it's because our people persevered that America is the truly amazing nation that it is today. This was not happenstance. This was not luck. It was fiber. It was grit. And those who went before you earned their place in history.

 

            A few days ago, our country celebrated a 230th birthday, and despite your responsibilities here, I hope that at least some of you had an opportunity to celebrate as well and to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in a nation that is rooted in freedom. The American people have learned in every era that freedom does not come without cost, it does not come without hardship, and indeed it does not come without heartbreak; that freedom was earned by the service and the sacrifice of successive generations of Americans who have come to our country's defense.

 

            And that responsibility, that honor now falls to you, and one day you will look back with a great deal of pride on what you've accomplished on behalf of our country and on behalf of human freedom and the history that you have written and that you are writing today. You can be enormously proud of your service, just as your countrymen are proud of what you do.

 

            You have my deep appreciation. You have my respect. It is clearly the highest honor of my life to be able to work with you and to serve at a time of such enormous historic importance to our country.

 

            So God bless you, and God bless our wonderful country.

Thank you all. (Applause, cheers.) Thank you very much. (Continued applause.) (Short audio break.)

 

            Now who’s got some questions, or comments or suggestions? Why don’t you just line up behind those mics and we’ll have at it.

 

            Q Good Morning, Mr. Secretary and welcome to Camp Anaconda. My name is Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Murphy (sp), I’m a Reservist, assigned to 3rd COSCOM, and I'm from Aberdeen, South Dakota. My question is, is there anything we can do to reduce this sectarian violence over here in Iraq?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, there's a lot that's being done, and if you think about it, the sectarian violence has a purpose. The people engaged in it are not engaged in it for no reason at all, and one of the purposes they're -- they have in mind, probably the first and most important, is there are those who would like to see a civil war in this country.

They would like -- they have decided -- they know they can't win on the battlefield. The only way they can win, they believe, is to create anarchy and to cause the country to become a failed state so that they can then pick up the pieces and impose their will and establish a caliphate here.

 

            A second reason for sectarian violence, in my view, and General Casey may want to make some comments on this as well, second reason is a desire to affect the political process so that they can improve their position with respect to economic power in the country. So to the extent the Sunnis ruled this country for many decades and they now see that they're in the minority and they have a Shi'a prime minister and a majority of -- a large number of Shi'a in the Parliament, they look at that and say, "How might that be changed, and what can we do to find a way to assure that our group ends up with greater economic power?" And I think that's another reason.

 

            Let's say that I'm right and that those are two of the most important reasons. The solution to that is not military. The solution to that obviously is what the Prime Minister Maliki is trying to do, and that is, a reach-out to the Sunni community to attempt to fashion a reconciliation process that will bring together the elements of this country on a basis that they can kind of nod their head and say, "That's fair, that process that we’ve just gone through where we're going to share power and it's going to be balanced and reasonable and we're going to be protected by that piece of paper, that constitution."

 

            I mean, if you think about it, this country was held together by repression by a vicious dictatorship that put hundreds of thousands of people in mass graves across this nation and people in prisons. That's how they held it together. Now they're trying to figure out a way to have a piece of paper -- a constitution -- and a fair process hold this country together.

 

            And they have every opportunity to do it. They've got oil, they've got water, they've got intelligent people, they have an industrious population, they have a proud history. There isn't any reason that this country can't make it.

 

            But I think those are probably the two most important.

 

            George, would you generally agree with that?

 

            GEN. CASEY: I would. (I wouldn't add anything ?) -- (off mic).

 

            Q Thank you, sir.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm relieved. He’s the expert! (Laughter.) Question. Yes, Sir! If you asked me to say Hoo-ah, I’d do it, too.

 

            Q Corporal King, Arthur. Bravo Company, 110th Engineer Battalion. We're National Guard.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hoo-ah!

 

            Q Our company, we go out and look for IEDs (improvised explosive devices). And right now we have one of the oldest pieces of equipment in country. It's called a Buffalo. And ours is the oldest. And we -- the other day, two weeks ago, we saw a brand-new one in downtown New York City; and we've been waiting for three months for ours. We just wondered why that was.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I don't know about New York City.

 

            They obviously have a separate budget and they buy what they buy. We've got $3.6 billion that dwarfs anything New York City does, just for IED work. And General Monty Meigs has been brought back, and he is in the -- he has been for -- gosh, the Army, for two and half, three years, has been working their heads off. As the nature of the IED problem has migrated and evolved, they have put enormous effort on it.

 

            I can't answer why your particular unit ends up with one of the oldest pieces of equipment, but I'll bet you General Casey can! (Laughter.)

 

            (Increased laughter, applause.)

 

            I'm just kidding! That's not his job either!

 

            GEN. CASEY: No, I'll find out what the story is and when your new one is due in here, and we'll get back to you on that.

 

            Q Thank you, General.

 

            GEN. CASEY: And by the way, thank you for what you do, going out there, the courage it takes to go out there every day and finding IEDs. (Cheers, applause.)

 

            Q Thank you.

 

            GEN. CASEY: It's remarkable.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you. Yes, sir?

 

            Q Mr. Secretary, 1st Sergeant First Class Ozier, Arizona National Guard. Assigned to 548th Logistical Task Force, 610 Quartermaster Company. My question is Mr. Secretary, with the additional strains on National Guard; i.e. border patrol missions and disaster relief, what if any plans are there to increase the active duty component to put the National Guard mission back on homeland defense?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The – first let me clarify something that was part of your question – the way you stated it. You characterized the border patrol assignment as an added stress on the National Guard. I think that the National Guard people feel that’s not the case, and the reason they feel that’s not the case is really for two reasons.

 

            One, the overwhelming majority of the Guard people who are going to be involved in the border – it’s a number up to 6,000 during the first year and up to 3,000 during the second year -- are people who are not going to be activated and deployed for that purpose. They are people who are going to be serving their two or three weeks active duty for training, and instead of building a bridge someplace or doing something that’s pretend and training and getting ready to do something, they’re going to actually be going down to the border area and building fences and flying Predators, and doing the things that are needed – assisting with language interpretation and the like. And they are actually feeling that it’s a benefit to the National Guard as opposed to a burden.

 

            The second thing I would mention that’s been helpful is the Guard and the Reserve and the total force concept has worked, and the National Guard folks have done a terrific job in the total force. We have been able, over time – the Army particularly – where the stress is, to do a lot of things to ease the burden on the Guard and the Reserves, and one example is that we have gone from something like 40 percent of the deployed force in Iraq and Afghanistan combined were Guard and Reserve a year and a half or two years ago. Today, it is about 18 or 19 percent. So, the percentage of the Guard and the Reserve have gone down dramatically.

 

            The second thing that has been done is that is that we’ve been rebalancing the skill sets in the Reserve component as well as the active component in a way that we believe will have the effect of reducing the burden certain skill sets that were in short supply on the active force which put and added burden on the Guard and the Reserve.

 

            The third thing that’s being done in the Army and the other services is that, as you know, there are Navy people here doing things that Navy people normally would not be doing in a ground combat environment. And that’s because all of the services are leaning forward to bring people into the area of responsibility – CENTCOM’s area of responsibility who bring the skill sets that are needed even though they are not from the service that normally would be dong it. And that’s why you can see this truly joint force that we have.

 

            So I think that the last thing I would mention is that there’s the operational Army and the institutional Army, both active and reserve. In a peacetime environment, over a prolonged period of time, the institutional Army grows and the operational Army shrinks – the percentage of the total. And what has been going on in the last three of four years is that the services have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to reduce the size of the institutional Army and increase the size of the operational Army and they’ve had some very good successes.

 

            The other piece of that is that they have been attempting to move military people out of positions that are essentially perfectly proper to be done by civilians and see that the military people tend to be involved in military assignments more than they had in the past. During a long prolonged period where there was not much stress on the force, things kind of relax and drift away. But during this period a good deal ahs been accomplished to do that and I think that... We have meetings - I’m going to guess - at least every four to six weeks where we go through 30 or 40 items that are designed like the one I’ve just mentioned to reduce the stress on the force and I think we’re having some good success with it. Thank you.

 

            Q Mr. Secretary, 1st Sergeant Eugene Owens (sp), 19th Support Center, 3rd COSCOM.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hoo-ah!

 

            Q Hoo-ah. Home base, Wiesbaden, Germany. And, sir, my question is: The terrorist organizations' primary goal is to intimidate our civilians and make their day-to-day lives fearful. Do you believe that they're successful back home in the United States?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a good question. I mean, the purpose of terrorism is not necessarily to kill people -- that's a by-product. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, it is to alter people's behavior patterns.

 

            And so if one looks at how the terrorist organizations, the networks and the cells are functioning, they have media committees. They sit down and they plan what are the kinds of attacks that can have the -- not necessarily to kill the maximum number of people, but designed specifically to alter behavior, to intimidate, and to instill fear in people, all people, free people, and to get them to alter their behavior. So they know what they're doing and they're good at it.

 

            The center of gravity of a conflict -- is the phrase that the military uses of course -- we always think of it as being on a battlefield, and it is, to be sure. But because of the nature of terrorism and because of their goal of attempting to cause the American people to alter their behavior and to stop behaving as free people, and to acquiesce and yield in what it is the terrorists want to do to this world, they focus very heavily on that, on the desire and the effort to intimidate the American people.

 

            Do I think that that's happened? No, I don't. There is no question there are some people who have been intimidated, and you can tell by what they say and how they think. But fortunately, I think the American people have got a darn good center of gravity, an inner gyroscope that can get blown off kilter from time to time, but, by golly, it centers again. We wouldn't be the country we are today if the American people didn't have a good center of gravity. (Applause.)

 

            Q Thank you, sir.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you. Yes, sir?

 

            Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Lieutenant Kenneth Ola. 909th Quartermaster, Guam Army National Guard. Serving alongside with the –

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Which National Guard?

 

            Q: Guam, Sir. Serving along with the 641st Quartermasters Detachment, Ohio National Guard. We’re under the 548th Logistics Task Force.

 

            SEC RUMSFELD: How do you remember all that? (Laughter)

 

            Q: Water Dog Hoo-ah, Sir.

 

            My question is what is your current assessment of the Iraqi forces and when do you think or feel that they will be ready to take over the security of their country as well as the logistic requirements of it?

 

            SEC. RUMEFELD: I am going to be meeting with General Casey and General Dempsey and General Chiarelli again tomorrow, or today, I guess... later on today and I will know more then, but I have met with them regularly and I would give you this assessment. First of all, it’s uneven. My impression is that the Ministry of Defense forces have advanced to a point that is more developed, more experienced and better organized and trained and equipped, thus far than the Ministry of Interior forces. The Ministry of Interior forces are being focused on by General Casey and General Dempsey. He has described it as the “Year of the Police.” I think it’s important that we close that gap.

 

            Second, they are going to end up with an Iraqi army and an Iraqi police force. Not an American army or police force. They are going to end up with something that is appropriate to their country, and their circumstance and their neighborhood. And I think it would be a mistake to compare the individuals in different disciplines or skill sets and say that someone’s better than the other. We have a different set of responsibilities than they will have and we ought to ask ourselves how are they coming with respect to the kind of task or set of tasks that they are going to be faced with over a period of time.

 

            Third, I would point out that they have advanced unevenly in this sense as well; the training and equipment is going along very well for the combat and lead forces of the Iraqi Security Forces. The other skill sets – logistics and intelligence and the other enablers – aviation enablers and the like – that’s far behind and so what’s going to happen is we’re going to have a situation where we will be able to continue to pass off responsibility to Iraqi security forces in this province or that province or with respect to the lead responsibilities in some major effort in a city or the protection of the elections for example where they took the inner rings and our forces took the outer rings. They are going to be able to continue to do that at an increasing rate. They’re now up to something like 267,000. I mean that’s considerable. And they’re more experienced. They’re out there taking casualties, let there be no doubt, and I think we have to respect them for that. But we will, for a period, have to continue to supply those enablers and the logistic support in my view for some period of time.

 

            The only other thing I’d say is that one of the things that I think has worked very well and General Casey and General Dempsey would know far better than I and that is the fact that we were able to get the Ministry of Defense forces to allow us to embed our folks with their units. And as a result of that they are able to see with much better visibility how good they are. What are they missing by way of equipment? What are they missing by way of linkages with the other Iraqi security forces? Do they have decent intelligence? Do they have some way to take the growing number of tips that we get as to where the bad guys are and rapidly get them into their units? And the fact that our folks have been embedded with them, living with them, working with them day and night – the Ministry of Defense forces has enabled us to increase their capability rather rapidly.

 

            That has not been the case on the Ministry of Interior side. We were refused the ability to embed people with the police for some time and it’s just started six or eight months ago, so that’s lagging there as well, but I think overall I would say that you folks have done an amazing job to go from zero to trained and equipped Iraqi security forces and then to develop them to what they are today. The immediate task is to have the new Minister of Defense and the new Minister of the Interior take a good hard look at their ministries and see if they can develop capabilities so that the linkages from the top of the chain of command in the ministries down through the units out in the field gets developed and strengthened and functions in a responsible way. Thank you.

 

            Question. Yes sir.

 

            Q: Thank you sir. Technical Sergeant Fred [Inaudible], Balad Fire Department. Home station Peterson Air Force Base. It seems like, in the news, we’re pouring billions and billions of dollars into Iraq for equipment and training and what have you to restabilize the nation. How much money are we putting back into the United States to stabilize and take care of our own?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: The training and equipping is expensive – of the Iraqi security forces. On the other hand, the training and equipping of the Iraqi military enables us to put probably five of the Iraqi people out, trained and equipped, for every one that it costs us of an American service person. So the cost-benefit ratio of training Iraqis to provide for their own security is of enormous advantage to the American taxpayers.

 

            Second, with respect to the back side of it, we are working with the Congress very hard now and have been for the last two and a half years to see that we reset our force, not the way it was during peacetime, but the way we now know it ought to be, and General Schoomaker and Fran Harvey in the Army and the other services are in the process of working with the Congress to see that they provide the funds to assure that the equipment that’s lost or the equipment that’s worn out or operated at a level of three years of usage compared to what it would have been for one year in peacetime, that that equipment is replaced or refurbished in a way that the reset of our forces will leave them not the way they were before this conflict, but a whale of a lot better off than before.

 

            Q: Can I present you with one of our coins?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. They took my jacket and put me in this wonderful thing and I am without a coin, but here’s one.

 

            (Applause)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes sir.

 

            Q: Good Morning, Mr. Secretary. My name is Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Looby, and I am a pilot assigned to Bravo Company [Inaudible] for the 101st Screaming Eagles out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My question is regarding Prime Minister Maliki’s emerging amnesty program. There have been rumors that in the future that could spread to allowing coverage for insurgents that have been involved in attacks against coalition forces and obviously that’s a concern to the soldiers and service members. If you could please elaborate on your thoughts?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: You bet. I am no expert on this and this is not something that the department is manages or handles or works with the Iraqis on. I will say this. Historically, it is a very normal process after a conflict for there to be a period where there is some sort of a reconciliation process where people are brought together in a variety of different ways. They try to see that each element of that country has an interest in and a stake in the success of that country. And so they draw people in. We had, for example, in our country an amnesty for people who went to Canada and didn’t want to serve, and it was after a period of time to try to end that chapter in a way that brought the country together.

 

            I have no idea what the prime minister and his parliament will ultimately come up with. I know that General Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad are both engaged in discussions about it. We all agree that a reconciliation process is critically important to achieving peace and reducing sectarian violence in this country. What the particular elements of it will be or ought to be is something that the Iraqis are going to wrestle with, and I know that opinion you have just expressed is one that is felt by an awful lot of Americans, but time will tell. Thank you.

 

            General Casey: (off mic) We probably have time for one or two more questions.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: I feel like I came a heck of a long way and now I’m getting the hook. (Laughter) Yes sir.

 

            Q: Good morning. My name is Senior Airman Jeffery Schick. I’m with the Triple Seven EA and UC 130 Squadron here at Balad. My home unit is the 913th Airlift Wing [Inaudible] Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well if this is the last question you’d better make it a pip.

(Laughter)

 

            Q: OK, but that’s a lot of pressure. First, I would like to say that this is the first time that my unit has ever been involved in the area of responsibility during wartime so I am very proud to be here. That being said, my base has been hovering around the Base Realignment and Closure list of the last several years and when we get back there’ll be a lot of men and women who will either have to relocate their families or lose their jobs. I was wondering what criteria does a unit need to meet or not meet in order to not be placed on that list?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: On the base closing?

 

            Q: Yes sir.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well this is the first one I’ve ever gone through. I’ve been around a long time but I was out of government during the previous three base closing exercises. It’s a statute passed by Congress and it reflects the reality that as time goes on circumstances change and it is necessary to make adjustments in bases, to try to find that more bases can be joint, and so we have done a worldwide look at our basing structure. We are moving some folks out of Germany that have been located – not the individuals - but the units and other units have been there for over 50 years. We’re making adjustments in Korea. We’re making adjustments in Japan and we’re trying to get our forces arrayed in a way that they have the maximum flexibility to deal with 21st century problems.

 

            We’re trying to get them located in places where they’re wanted. We really don’t want our forces in places where they’re not wanted. It’s not hospitable for them, and it also imposes restrictions on what we can do with our forces, which is not the way that the American people want it. They want to know that if they are investing in a first rate, professional armed force, that they want to be able to have it available to be used for our country and not have to go ‘mother may I?’ to the countries where some of them may be located.

 

            With regard to the forces in our country, each of the services - the process was this – each service went through and looked at, on a macro basis, how they were arranged in our country under the base closing and how the troops coming home from overseas would be located given what the master global plan provided. They then made recommendations and they were accepted in the Department of Defense. They were then sent to the president and he sent them over to this base closing commission that is provided for by statute.

 

            They then looked at it and made some changes in it and made some adjustments and the principle criteria for the bases was military need and that was the driving force. There were other things that were of interest to the base closing commission and services as they made those recommendations. It came up with things that I didn’t happen to agree with. That doesn’t meant that I am right and they are wrong, but all in all I would say that the base closing process and the global posture will leave the armed forces of the United States vastly better off than they were before.

 

            We will save billions of dollars that will be available for important needed capabilities for our country and I know that it is hard when a base adjustment is made. For a community it can be hard. It can be hard for some of the families.

 

            On the other hand the net effect of everything that’s been done and the changes particularly that the Army is making is that people are going to have fewer permanent changes of station in a career. They’ll have fewer situations where their kids are pulled out of high school twice and fewer situations where spouses have to leave jobs and have trouble finding another job over the course of a career.

 

            All in all I would say that the base closing process and the global posture adjustments, which are two pieces of the same pie, have been really excellent set of changes and our country is going to be vastly better off notwithstanding the fact hat you are right, there are instances where individual circumstances are made more difficult.

 

            Folks, we’ll make this the last question. Thank you.

 

            Q: Sir, my name is Sergeant First Class Doug Schultz, 167th Cavalry Squadron, Nebraska Army National Guard. My fellow Guardsmen already asked a couple of my questions so I had to improv real quick, but I’ll keep it short, Sir. I’m from Nebraska where football is near and dear to our hearts. Who is going to win the Army-Navy game this year?

 

            (Laughter)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well... (Applause) as someone once said, “I’m plucky, but I’m not stupid!” I’m not going to answer that one.

 

            Thank you folks!

 

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