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DoD News Briefing with Secretary Rumsfeld and Adm. Giambastiani

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr.
February 01, 2006 2:15 PM EDT

DoD News Briefing with Secretary Rumsfeld and Adm. Giambastiani

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good afternoon, folks.  Today America and other free nations confront deadly enemies, terrorists that are dispersed around the globe.  They killed 3,000 people on September 11th, 2001. They have killed many more since.  And if they achieve their announced goal of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons, they could kill a great many more. 


            As the president said last night, our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy.  He said they seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and free people across the globe.   


            Soon the Department of Defense will release a document called the Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR.  It's an assessment of how the Department of Defense will need to operate and be organized to confront these and other threats to our nation's security.  The review builds on the QDR we implemented in 2001.  It has paid particular attention to finding ways to provide greater flexibility to military commanders so that they can employ a full range of capabilities in this new era of surprise.   


            This is the first such assessment conducted during a time of war, a war that is perhaps unprecedented in its complexity.  It builds on several years of momentous change and on the lessons learned during the past four years of the global war on terror, peacekeeping operations, and yes, also several important humanitarian relief activities.  These experiences highlighted the importance of building the capacity of partner states, other nations, friendly nations that are willing to help, and recognizing potential threats early and taking prompt measures to prevent problems from becoming conflicts or crises.  


            The department's senior military and civilian advisers identified four specific priorities as the focus of the Quadrennial Defense Review:  defeating violent extremists, defending our homeland, helping countries at strategic crossroads, and preventing terrorists and dangerous regimes from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. 


            The QDR team, the civilians and senior civilians and military in the department, recognize that the department must continue to change. One ought to avoid a temptation to look at this review, the QDR, as a stand-alone document or to measure it by programs or budgets.  Rather it's best understood as a way point along a continuum of change that began some years past and will continue for some years hence.   


            The preface is available.  I believe some of you have seen it. The QDR itself will be out, I guess, a little later this month, with the budget. 


            More than a decade has passed since the Cold War ended and the Soviet empire went, as was once predicted, into the ash heap of history. 


            During that long struggle, the U.S. armed forces, and those of our friends and allies, had to adopt new ways of thinking. 


            Today, in a different world with new and unpredictable enemies, the task again is to make the appropriate adjustments and arrangements needed to protect the American people. 


            I particularly want to thank the people in the Department of Defense who spent so much time conducting the review over the past year.  And I also want to thank the men and women in uniform who are on the frontlines defending our country and our way of life. 


            Admiral Giambastiani. 


            ADM. GIAMBASTIANI:  Thank you, sir.   


            As the secretary has pointed out, and as the president discussed last evening, we are a nation at war, a long war, one that will require careful and considered use of all elements of our national power in order to be successful.  The leadership of this department, both civilian and military, have always held as their primary responsibility to provide our service men and women with the tools they need to execute the missions assigned by the president and the Secretary of Defense.  This principle formed the foundation of the work we have undertaken over this past year in this Quadrennial Defense Review.   


            The QDR will lay the groundwork for addressing security challenges of this very uncertain future.  It provides a chance to reflect on what we have accomplished and where we need to go.  The QDR is what one might call is a vector; it's a vector for the future of the joint force.  It has both direction and magnitude.   


            Since 9/11, this transformation in stride has come about during a time of war.  It is most useful to think of how we are transforming by looking at where we are or have been, and where we want to go.  Let me give you a couple of examples.   


            We talk about traditional threats -- we have.  We are now talking about irregular disruptive and catastrophic threats.  We talk about large institutional forces.  We're talking about, in the future, larger operational capabilities, from conventional combat operations to irregular or asymmetric operations.  You will see when the budget is delivered next week that these desired capabilities will receive a considerable down payment in fiscal year 2007.   


            They include in part, accelerating the Army's effort to create a more modular and deployable set of units and headquarters -- what we call the operational Army; significantly increasing special operations forces with contributions from all of the services; orienting joint air capabilities to favor increased range and persistence, larger and more flexible payloads for surveillance or strike, and the ability to penetrate and sustained operations in denied areas; building joint maritime forces that are most capable of projecting power in the brown and green waters of the coastal areas; tailoring deterrence capabilities to a wider range of potential threats from a wider menu of military options; and making significant investments in joint mobility, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and combating weapons of mass destruction. 


            With that, we'd like to take your questions. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Charlie. 


            Q      Mr. Secretary, I wonder if you could give us just a -- just a bit more detail about what Admiral G said about the special operations units.  We understand that you're -- you plan to increase special operations units by about 15 percent in the coming year and put special emphasis on the special missions units, where you might be able to intercept possible transfer of weapons of mass destruction, that kind of thing, in conjunction with what you said about defeating violent extremists.  Could you go into a bit of detail about the increase in the special operations -- especially those special missions units? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The Quadrennial Defense Review will be out soon. I don't know that I want to expand on it; I'd rather let it speak for itself.  I will say this, if there's one thing that's clear, it's that counter-proliferation is a significant task of the United States and of our friendly countries around the world.  It can't be done alone by us; it has to be done in cooperation with other nations.  The risk of very powerful, lethal weapons moving into the hands of rogue states and/or terrorist networks is real.  And certainly, the capabilities that the special operations force bring in this area are relevant. 


            Question.  Jamie? 


            Q      Mr. Secretary, when you and Admiral Giambastiani use the phrase, as the president did, "the long war", are you preparing -- trying to prepare the American public for the idea that U.S. troops are going to be deployed in significant numbers overseas, fighting in a combat situation for an indefinite amount of time? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No. 


            The -- quite the contrary.  I think what we're trying to do is to just simply tell the truth.  And the truth is that just as the Cold War lasted a long time, this war is something that is not going to go away.  It's not going to be settled with a signing ceremony on the USS Missouri.  It is of a different nature.  And it does not have to do with deployment of U.S. military forces, necessarily.  It has to do with the struggle that's taking place within that faith between violent extremists -- a small number of them, relatively -- who are capable of going out and killing a great many people, as they're doing, and the overwhelming majority of that religion that does not believe in violent extremism or terrorism.  That the -- we're already starting to pull down some of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.  So I think the -- that linkage would be a misunderstanding of the situation. 


            Q      Well, how did you settle on the phrase "the long war"?  And does that now replace "the global war on terror"? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No.  No.  You can call it what you want.  I use both.  Other people use both. 




            Q      Mr. Secretary, are you concerned about -- as you go along this effort to increase Special Forces and the numbers of Special Forces, that that may make it difficult to -- for recruiting for the services that already have had some problems in meeting their recruitment levels?   


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No. 


            Q      Do you think that that will sap higher-quality soldiers, higher-quality service members? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No.  I don't.  The -- we've done a great many things over the past five years with respect to the Special Forces in the United States.  We've increased their numbers.  We've increased their equipment.  We've improved their equipment.  We've increased their authorities and responsibilities.   


            We've also taken a number of the tasks that have historically been assigned to Special Forces and taken them away from the Special Forces and asked regular forces to undertake those responsibilities. That might be the protection of various types of people.  It might involve training foreign forces.  Some of the lower-end activities that are still high-end, but less so, have been moved to the regular forces.  And in addition, we have added -- we've linked them for the first time in history with the Marine Corps, which had not been the case previously. 


            So we believe we're going to be able to maintain a very high- quality larger force of Special Operations forces over a sustained period of time, but have them focused on things that they can do and it's unlikely other forces would necessarily be trained to do. 


            So we've got to maintain the quality.  It's terribly important. 




            Q      Mr. Secretary, this is kind of a lift over drag question.  If we promote democracy in the Middle East, as President Bush has vowed to do, and we get results like we did in Palestine, where Hamas gets the majority vote, and experts predict that if we did the same thing in Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden might get elected.  So how do you balance those two -- promoting democracy and then having to settle for results where Islamic extremists may be running the government that you've tried to influence?  How do you balance that off? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, those are tough calls.  The president has spoken to this.  He believes that the natural state of man is to be free, not to be repressed or a slave to a dictatorial system of some kind.  And he thinks that over time that's what will happen.  And that -- he also believes that free people tend not to make war on each other.   


            And if one looks at that election, there was an election, Hamas prevailed.  They are a terrorist organization and have not renounced terror.  Nor have they changed their position with respect to the right of Israel -- Israel's right to exist.  And therefore, other countries have to react to that in a way that reflects their view of a terrorist organization that has not renounced terror.  And there's a penalty for that, there's -- I shouldn't say a penalty.  There's an action and a reaction.  And over time, that will sort out.  My impression is that they were somewhat surprised to prevail in that election, that they may very well take it under advisement and decide if they want to adjust or how they want to fashion their circumstance.  


            But obviously, it's very difficult for Israel to have a relationship as a partner in peace with a country that doesn't renounce terrorism and that, in addition, contends that Israel does not have a right to exist.  So that's something they'll just have to work their way through, and time will tell. 


            Q      How does Rumsfeld come down on that?  Are you for trying to moderate them or cutting them off -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'm -- I'm -- I work for the president, and the president's policy that he announced yesterday the Department of State is implementing, and I support it. 


            So -- yeah, Brett (sp)? 


            Q      Mr. Secretary, or Admiral Giambastiani, either one, we heard from commanders in Iraq today that the number of attacks, insurgent attacks, has dropped significantly over the past three months.  Can you characterize the insurgency now, whether you think that that is a trend -- or I guess give the ground assessment of where you think it may head. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Too early.  There's no question the number of attacks in Iraq are down.  They're down back to a level that occurred following the prior election and the prior referendum.   


            What one would want to see is to have that lower level sustained over a period of time.  I think why predict?  Why -- we'll just wait and see what happens.  And I know our folks out there are working with the people in the political process, that the Iraqi people felt they had a right to vote.  That has to be a good thing.  And we'll just see if it has a favorable effect on attacks. 


            Q      But what do you attribute the drop by almost a half since October to? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  From October of this year (sic). 


            Q      Yeah.  This past year. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I thought you meant October '02.  I was trying to -- 


            Q      I'm sorry.  What do you attribute it to? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I -- number one, it's not a surprise.  The -- it dropped down after the January elections, it dropped down after the October referendum, and it's dropped down after these elections.  It's gone up again on other occasions, and it may very well now.  So I don't attribute it to anything except maybe a rhythm.  Maybe they were -- the terrorists were hoping to achieve a great deal more than they did. 


            If you think about it, they have failed.  They failed to stop the January elections, they failed to stop the drafting of a constitution, they failed to stop the referendum on the constitution, they failed to stop the most recent election, they failed to stop the seating of the parliament, they're going to fail to stop the seating of a new government.  And they're on the run.  They clearly are -- have a lot of pressure on them.  And it doesn't mean they can't go kill people.  It doesn't mean they can't hire people to go out and blow themselves up.  But they have failed in almost everything they have tried to do thus far.  And I think that we'll go forward and see what happens. But -- 




            Q      Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about an incident that happened yesterday in the green zone where a car carrying senior diplomats from the Canadian -- the Canadian government -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It's being investigated.  I don't know anything more than what has been announced. 


            Q      The Canadians say that one of their diplomats was missed by two centimeters and one shot. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I wasn't there.  I obviously don't know.  It's being investigated, and we'll see. 




            Q      Mr. Secretary, can I go back to the QDR?  Can you explain why the -- why there will be a new emphasis in expansion on PSYOPS, and given all the controversy, what kind of firewalls will you see -- will you make sure are in place to make sure information distributed overseas doesn't migrate into the mainstream U.S. media? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That's a tough issue, and it's obvious that the media is very interested in this and interested in strategic communications.  They're interested in information operations. They're interested in PSYOPS, and it's complicated because it's sensitive, and anything that's done there, somebody points at and says is wrong and shouldn't be done. 


            Second, anything we do in this big department -- a decision is made, a policy is indicated, and then information goes down and people start behaving off of that guidance.  And if it's rules of engagement, for example, forgetting the area you raised, they then have to interpret all of that and make decisions and call audibles and live their lives and do what they do.  If it's in this area, they have to do exactly the same thing -- figure out, "What does that mean?  How do we do that?  What's the best way to arrange ourselves?"  And you put in restrictions and guidance, and then you have to monitor it and inspect it and make sure they're doing basically what you're doing. The minute somebody does something that somebody thinks isn't right, then it blows up, it becomes a major media event, and then it gets canceled or stopped and everyone is chilled and says, "Oh, my goodness.  We shouldn't be doing anything in this area because it's not possible to do anything in this area without being criticized." So it's a very complicated problem for us. 


            And the question is how -- we're not going to lose wars or battles out there.  The only place we can lose is if the country loses its will, and the determinant of that is what is played in the media. And therefore, the terrorists have media committees, and they plan it and they manipulate and manage to influence what the media carries throughout the world, and they do it very successfully.  They're good at it.  And our people are chilled and reticent and uncomfortable because they know there's an instantaneous penalty if they do anything that may be what their best judgment was about what the instructions were.  And they may be right or wrong.  People make mistakes all the time, and -- in any business, they make mistakes.  But people get chilled, and so they get apprehensive.   


            And so we have to figure this out, and, frankly, we have not done it.  We have not done a good job trying to figure out how we can do what we need to do to compete in this struggle, which is going to take a long time.  How do we compete in this struggle in a way that can counter the ability of the enemy to lie -- which we can't do -- the ability of the enemy to not have a free media criticizing them.  You don't see much criticizing of them.   


            And yet anything that's done in this department -- the other area where we've got this problem is with technology.  As technology advances and things change with what you can do, you have to figure out new ways to arrange yourself that are appropriate, given new technologies. 


            And you've seen that come up -- when was it -- some time back on data mining, where information was collected and not purged as rapidly as some people thought it might be purged. 


            So these are complicated things.  We're running a war for the first time in the 21st century with all these new realities, with bloggers and 24-hour talk radio and media -- 24-hour news programs and the Internet and e-mails and all of -- cell phones -- all the things that change everything.  It's very hard.  It's very complicated.  No one's going to do it perfectly, particularly in a large organization, and we're trying to figure out how to do it well. 


            Q      Mr. Secretary, when -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We're going to have to make this the last question.  We apologize for being so late, but we didn't want to conflict with the president's event. 


            Q      I'm sorry.  Mr. Secretary, when you say chilled, are you saying that DOD personnel are afraid of launching certain operations because of a media backlash? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, no, not military operations.  They're comfortable with that.  No, no.  It's information operations and strategic diplomacy, and the kinds of things that you talked about. 


            How -- what was the phrase you used in your question? 


            Q      Lift over drag -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Pardon me? 


            Q      Lift over drag ratio of promoting democracy and then having to suffer -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, no, no.  The question -- 


            Q      About information migrating to the mainstream. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Exactly.  And because -- I mean, anyone opens their mouth, it's -- multiple audiences hear it, and therefore, it takes a great deal of care.  And we've got people who are trained to do what they do:  to fly airplanes, to drive ships, to serve as an infantry officer.  And then, you ask them to get engaged in this information business and try to compete out there with the information that's coming from the other side because it affects what people think, and that's where the center of gravity of this war is, and they say, "Oh, my goodness."  If you do anything in that area, you get penalized because there's bad press, there's bad news, someone doesn't like it, some -- says a congressional hearing.  The newspaper has it on the front page because it's about the media, and the media likes to write about the media.  You may not have noticed that, but that's a fact! 


            And therefore, what happens to people -- I'm not saying I can point to anybody who's chilled -- but anyone with an ounce of sense, who touches something and gets shocked, doesn't touch it again for awhile.  They kind of get careful and cautious. 


            So this is an area that we don't do well.  We know we don't do well.  It is very difficult.  Every time anyone tries to do something it gets examined before you can even try to begin implementing it, and I don't know what the answer is to it.  We've got people trying to think it through, but obviously, we have not done a brilliant job on it. 




            Q      One clarification on "the long war."  Is Iraq going to be a long war? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, I don't believe it is. 


            We're training up these folks and passing over responsibility every day.  Another piece of real estate was passed over yesterday and -- 


            Q      Didn't you say -- 


            ADM. GIAMBASTIANI:  The size of Kentucky -- the size of Kentucky -- 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Was passed over?  Is that right? 


            ADM. GIAMBASTIANI:  On the 26th of January. 


            Q      Say that again. 


            ADM. GIAMBASTIANI:  On the 26th of January, two areas -- one, Diwaniyah and the other one called -- I don't know if I have the pronunciation correct -- Wasit -- W-A-S-I-T in English.  They're about the size of the state of Kentucky, were passed over to the Iraqi 8th Army. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, we're passing over bases and responsibilities and real estate on a continuing basis.  The Iraqi security forces are growing.  General Dempsey's doing a first-rate job out there.  And -- 


            Q      Does that mean you get to 100,000 by the end of the year, do you think, Admiral? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Hundred thousand what? 


            Q      Troops, U.S. troops.  Below 100,000. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We're not -- we don't make predictions.  You know that.  The conditions -- it's condition-based. 


            Q      Well, you're talking about conditions.  I'm just curious if, as a result of changing some of these areas over, you can reduce U.S. troops? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We are -- we have been reducing U.S. troops, and that's what we do.  But on the other hand, there'll be times when we want to increase U.S. troops.  We're adding transition people, for example, to be embedded with police, and doing other things.  But there's a lot of moving parts.  You'll know as we announce reductions or increases or whatever they may be. 


            Q      But didn't you once say that Iraq is going to be a long, hard slog?  Didn't you famously write that in a memo? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't think I -- I think I wrote that, but I don't recall it being about Iraq, I thought it was about this overall struggle.  And I thought you went and looked it up in a dictionary, as I recall.  (Laughter.) 


            Q      Slog. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Slog, yeah.  I could be wrong, but my recollection is it was on October 16th a couple of years ago -- (laughter) -- and --  


            Q      (Inaudible) -- when you said it! 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And I sent a memo -- 


            Q      I'm going to go with you on this one. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You're going to go with me? 


            Q      On this one.  (Off mike.) 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Okay. 


            But I do think it's a long, hard slog.  This is tough business because there are a lot of people out there recruiting young people, putting them in extremist madrassa schools, teaching them to be suicide bombers.  And I think the Iraqis are going to have to struggle with this insurgency for some time.  But I think our task is to train them up and then pass over responsibility and not create a dependency there.  And the rate at which we're able to do that will be exactly the rate at which we're able to do it, which will be condition-based, and it will be based on, as the president said last night, recommendations from the field.  And anyone who tries to predict it is foolish. 


            Thank you. 


            Q      Thank you.
















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