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SecDef's Upcoming Trip to attend 37th Munich Conference on Security Policy

Presenter: Senior Defense Department Official
February 01, 2001

Thursday, February 2, 2001

Quigley: Ladies and gentlemen, if you could take your seats, please. And just to recap what we're about to convene here is a background session for Secretary Rumsfeld's trip to the Wehrkunde conference, leaving tomorrow afternoon. If --

Steve?

Q: Craig, can I deal with the housekeeping before we start?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: I'd like to know how the decision was made to choose the press that is accompanying the secretary.

Quigley: Okay. It was -- many, many more news organizations signed up, if you will, with Colonel Ogilvie than we had room to take on this trip. The news organizations that were chosen had made their desires known a long time ago, and we tried to honor those requests. The Wehrkunde is an annual conference held at about the same time every year. And some news organizations had -- recognized that and asked to be put on the list early on. So we kept that list, going back several months. And as soon as there was clarity on his attendance and stuff like that, as you might imagine, many other news organizations asked to go along. So we went with the list of those who had expressed the strong interest and been calling in and double-checking every couple of weeks over a period of time, and we chose those that showed that strong interest for an extended period of time for this trip.

Q: Craig, the one thing that I would point out, I mean, I could say to you, you know, I want to go on the next five trips -- and I have now asked first for the record, everybody -- (laughter) --

Quigley: But I wouldn't honor that.

Q: The -- but simply my point is, is that when it's a very limited thing, I think there needs to be clarity for all of us involved, especially when it's a choice of one newspaper versus others, that there's some systematic way that we make that decision simply rather than ask first.

Quigley: What we will do in the future is as soon as we have some hint that Secretary Rumsfeld is going to make a trip, not for reporting, we would contact the Pentagon correspondents that represent their news organizations and say, hey, not carved in stone, but we're looking at him going on a trip during this time frame to this place, are you interested in going? Then you would express your interest or not, and we would put you on the list at that point in time.

Q: That's what you've done in the past, and I agree that's a fine way to do it. That didn't seem to be the case this time around.

Quigley: Well, there was no shortage of --

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: We didn't have clarity that he was even going until, what --

Staff: A week ago.

Quigley: -- a week ago. And by that point in time we had many more organizations that signed up than we had room for. So that's the criteria of -- it was my choosing -- of going with that method. But that's not normal because he just got here, it's just the first trip. Far more normal is having some predictability, Steve, as to what's happening down the road. And we would get more warning and do it in a more systematic way.

Q: I think I might inject something here if I may since Steve raised the issue. The wires of course, I think ought to always go. We always go on these trips. He's talking --

Q: (Cross talk) -- wire reports. (Scattered laughter.)

Q: No --

Q: He said, "may."

Q: Yeah, I mean, you're talking about news service. I just wanted to ask --

Q: (Cross talk) -- at all, it was particularly a question of if the wires go, I mean, essentially that serves all of us because we're all able to see it.

Quigley: Right.

Q: But in the question of choosing one print versus another print versus television, it's the same issue.

Quigley: Right.

So again, ladies and gentlemen, if you are not here to be a part of a backgrounder on Secretary Rumsfeld's trip to Wehrkunde tomorrow, you're in the wrong room.

So we have this person with us. I think he is well-known to most of you. And with that, sir, over to you.

Senior Defense Official: Let me go over the trip mechanics, meetings, a quick word or two on themes and then turn it over to questions.

It's a quick trip, as you know -- leave tomorrow, get to Munich early in the morning. He will have a series of meetings. Some of these times are still being worked out, although I have a schedule. But of course he'll see General Ralston. He will have a chance to see our people.

Q: What did you say?

Q: We couldn't hear.

Senior Defense Official: I'm sorry. He will of course see General Ralston, the supreme allied commander in Europe. He'll of course have a chance to see some of our own people -- Ambassador Vershbow from NATO will be there, the charge in Germany.

In terms of meetings with others, the plan is that he'll have a chance to meet with the chancellor and also Minister Scharping. He would have an opportunity to meet with the NATO Secretary General Robertson. He will have a chance to see all of the defense ministers who are there at a hosted lunch. And I think that's hosted by the Wehrkunde people -- anyway, not hosted by us.

There is a congressional delegation going over. He will have a chance to talk with them -- and I don't think I actually have a list with me of who is in that delegation; we may have, if you're interested -- an opportunity to meet with the U.K. minister, the Italian minister.

He will also -- there will be some people at the conference who are not from the NATO countries. Two of those are the Singapore minister of defense, Tony Tan -- he'll meet with him -- and the Indian national security advisor who's last name is Mishra, and I don't have the first name but I can get it for you.

Q: Are you talking about bilaterals now?

Senior Defense Official: Yes.

Q: Are you talking about U.K., Italy?

Senior Defense Official: Yes, yes.

Q: Is he going to meet with Richard? I don't have a background --

Senior Defense Official: I'm about finished, but --

Q: Oh, I'm sorry.

Senior Defense Official: It's quite all right.

He has -- I think what all this shows is that what he's trying to do is use this as an opportunity for consultations. He has had some conversations with others. As I think many of you know, he had lunch just today with the Canadian minister of Defense, Art Eggleton. He's talked with Minister Richard, to answer your question, Charlie. I don't -- I think it was yesterday. And they are going to try to work out timing. But he's constricted, and Richard is constricted. The idea is to do it, but I don't have a definite time. He's talked with others. He's talked with the Japanese minister of Defense.

So going to themes, I think one of the main points here is, this is obviously very early in the administration. He has a lot of issues -- budget, program, and otherwise -- and to go on this visit is a demonstration of the fact that he does want to consult very much, the administration wants to consult with allies and friends. It underscores for him the importance of NATO, of Europe. You saw that from his testimony.

When he's there, he will probably, I'm confident, talk about NATO, as a -- big surprise. He'll talk about the changing environment. As, again, you saw in his testimony, he's concerned, as is the president, about weapons of mass destruction and about cyberterrorism. I'm certain that he will talk about the importance of resources for defense, about transformation, which has a NATO counterpart, the Defense Capabilities Initiative that you've heard about -- the importance there.

The issue of -- some of the issues that one would expect to come up in -- for example, in the context of WMD, might be the national missile defense issue, but there are other parts of dealing with WMD that could come up.

Let me stop there, because I think it's better to answer what you want. Charlie?

Q: Obviously a major issue here is going to be national missile defense. Is he going to assure the allies that the administration will not move precipitously, quickly, on NMD without consulting the allies?

Senior Defense Official: I think I want to let him answer the question just as you asked it, because I think -- and you'll have -- some of you will have a chance on the plane. But as you know, the president has been clear in terms of the overall objective, and as you also know, I think the president and he are also clear that they need to review the program. So let me stop there, because that's probably all I can say. And he should characterize it, not me.

Q: Is he going to give a full presentation at Wehrkunde, or just talk --

Senior Defense Official: He will give a presentation at Wehrkunde, yes.

Q: And the purpose of the presentation? He's to lay out themes or what?

Senior Defense Official: I just didn't hear -- "lay out" -- I just didn't hear the last few words.

Q: But the purpose of the presentation will be to -- what? -- to lay out the administration's policy or to --

Senior Defense Official: I would characterize it -- I guess the answer to that is yes, but also to remember what he, himself, has said, that -- he said this a few days ago. He said it's only day 14. So he'll lay out some of the broad objectives of the administration. He will lay out the processes they they're using to come to conclusions. And he'll want to consult on the questions; he'll want to get input from his colleagues who are there, and from others who are not necessarily ministers of defense, but have important input. And so it will be a two-way street.

Q: Is he going to be discussing ESDI and also peacekeeping?

Senior Defense Official: I'm as sure as I can be that those will come up.

Q: MEADS, will the --

Senior Defense Official: I didn't hear you.

Q: Will the issue of MEADS be discussed?

Senior Defense Official: Again, you're asking me for a more detailed agenda than I can assure you on. We all know these are issues. How a particular discussion goes, I really just can't tell you.

Q: Is he going with any proposals on the review of the peacekeeping forces in the Balkans, specifically, either Bosnia or Kosovo?

Senior Defense Official: As you know, NATO has a process for that, and I think you're well aware. And for those of you who don't know, there's a regular six-month review for both Bosnia and Kosovo. That's the process. The U.S. is part of that. It's undertaken under the NATO auspices. The military authorities play in that. And that's the normal way we interact on that.

Q: When's the next one of those six-month reviews?

Senior Defense Official: Well, we're in the midst, if I -- I may get this wrong, but if I recall correctly, that's supposed to come out in May or June. It's about that time frame. We can get you exact, if you need it.

Q: That was a free question. Here's the question I wanted to ask. ABM -- what message will he be bringing there? In his testimony, he was very forthright -- I think he called it an ancient document and seemed to leave very little room for interpretation of how he felt about it. Will he be bringing as strong a message there about this treaty?

Senior Defense Official: Again, I want to let the secretary speak for himself. You saw -- as you obviously have read his testimony; I don't think I can elaborate on that more. And we can make it available to you, if you haven't seen it. And then he has to tell you where he really is on the substance.

Q: To turn this around a little bit, you do briefing books for the guy and read-aheads based on your inputs from your counterparts overseas. What are you telling -- what themes do you feel he's going to have to prep on currently on the NMD and the ABM? What's the feedback you're getting from Europe in terms of what they want to get into now?

Senior Defense Official: I think some of the things I went over. And the president -- you know, it's important to say this. It's obvious, but it's important to say it. I mean, the president sets the national security policy. The secretary works for the president. The president has already made some statements on some issues. They're relatively broad, as they would be at this time. He will follow on on those.

From the European side, we know that they are interested in, if you will, the overall perception of what are the issues that the United States is facing. The secretary dealt with some of that in his testimony. Secretary Powell dealt with that in some of his testimony. One of the issues that the secretary talked about was the problems of weapons of mass destruction, of cyberterrorism, those kinds of, if you will, new issues. A second issue that comes up underneath that but tends to be segmented out, and I don't think it necessarily should be segmented out, is, if you will, an answer -- that is to say, national missile defense.

Another issue that will come up, of course, is how do you see NATO. The secretary, as you know, is very, very strong on NATO. He sees NATO as an incredibly important institution. He said so -- I can't remember if it was the testimony or the press conference that he gave. But in any event, I can assure you that he sees NATO as an important institution. I am confident that the Europeans will be interested in his views on European security defense. He will be interested in their views. And that ought to be a two-way street.

The secretary has underscored for the U.S. the importance of what he calls transformation and taking advantage of technologies. The U.S. started in NATO the so-called Defense Capabilities Initiative. Again, that will allow for a dialogue on those kind of issues. There's the issue of resources. You can't go forward very well on upgrading technologies for your forces unless you have adequate resources. The Europeans, some have modestly increased budgets, some have decreased budgets, some are flat. That will be an issue. That gives you an idea.

Q: It sounds like a blend of continuity with Clinton policies, and then some of the new initiatives Bush has articulated.

Senior Defense Official: And I'm not -- I'll leave the characterization to the secretary.

Q: Is there -- I understand there's a troop visit component to --

Senior Defense Official: I apologize. I left it off.

He's going to go to the 52nd Fighter Wing, which is in -- (to staff) Spangdahlem?

Staff: Spangdahlem.

Senior Defense Official: He will meet with the men and women in the force, and he will also meet with families. There's a dinner planned there, so he'll have a chance to eat with them. I don't think all the mechanics are exactly worked out, but, again, dumb of me to leave it out.

That's both -- it's two things. Number one, it's an opportunity for him to get input from the people in the force. He has already undertaken that. He's met with some of the senior enlisted, as you well know. Obviously, he's met with the chiefs. But he's really reached out for the senior enlisted. This'll give him a chance, first chance to meet with the people who are actually in the operational force out there, doing. He also wants to meet, I think, with the families very much, because, again, as you all know, the families are a huge part of this and this'll give him a chance to do so. So this is an important part of the visit that, you will see from the time frames, a little bit of a brutal visit. And doing this extra part adds to the difficulty of the travel. But nonetheless he wanted to do it, and it's a critical part for him.

Q: Saturday night? Sunday night?

Senior Defense Official: Saturday night.

Q: President Bush has made clear that he wants to extend missile defense beyond the land bases within Alaska to cover the allies, either sea-based of airborne or space-based. Is that a message he's going to bring to the allies, is that "We want to protect you as well"? Is that sort of --

Senior Defense Official: Again, I want to leave the precise way he would say it with the secretary. But he works for the president; he's clear on that. And you've seen what the president said. And he said that -- you know -- I don't want to say yes, because you put a lot of particulars in that I think he ought to speak to. But the issue, the president's been perfectly clear on where he stands on National Missile Defense.

Q: I'd like to follow up on the question about what he might be expecting to hear about from the Europeans. And in addition to National Missile Defense, of course, there's DU, the president talked about withdrawing from the Balkans and everything. Minister Scharping was in Moscow this week and was very critical about missile defense and praising the ABM Treaty. Will the secretary be bringing anything for them, or will he be bringing a bouquet of roses, or will he be wearing a flak jacket, or is -- what kind of welcome is he expecting? Beside from cordial and professional. (Laughter.)

Senior Defense Official: As they say, thank you very much. I think.

I think the way to look at this is that the president has a broad agenda which he's working on, reviewing with his national security advisers: Secretary Powell, National Security Adviser Rice, Secretary Rumsfeld, chairman, others. This is an early visit for the administration. It's important for the administration because they do want to have a chance to meet with the allies and, you know, non- allies but close friends like Singapore, early.

It's a chance for real dialogue. The secretary has made points -- I've listed them as best I could for you -- which he, you know, in broad terms will make again. I mean, he works for the president, and the president's policies will be -- you know, are his policies. I don't think that requires a flak jacket, I think it requires just honest discussion.

Q: Well, speaking of honest -- the fact is that this meeting is going to set an early tone -- early and very important tone for cross-Atlantic relations. Is the secretary going to be very careful not to anger the Europeans over NMD?

Senior Defense Official: Charlie, that's the kind of question -- I think, again, why don't you ask him that question? But I think we all know that Secretary Rumsfeld is very experienced, he's professional. The president has, you know, said very clearly that they want to have consultations. The administration has positions, but they would certainly want to talk with the allies and friends on issues.

Q: Is he going to discuss the crucial issue of the DU, where the Europeans say there is a grave concern for the Balkans and also for Southeastern Europe?

Senior Defense Official: I think the United States has made a tremendous amount of information available already. If it's still an issue, obviously people can raise it. But we have been perfectly clear on -- we've been very clear on our views and we've made all of the information available, both to governments and to the publics.

Q: Is this issue going to be discussed in this meeting in Germany?

Senior Defense Official: It's up to the people who have concerns. But we don't think it's a major issue. I understand it's a major issue of concern, and I myself have said that, obviously, if people have concerns, they're entitled to have the information. And we've done our very best to provide that information, providing experts to NATO, providing experts to countries. And we've done, I think, a fairly good job on that.

Q: Is NATO expansion, which you didn't mention, on the list of topics? Or is that too far down the road to be worth raising at this sort of meeting?

Senior Defense Official: What I would say on that is that it's always important to understand where you're going in general. As you know, the process is to have -- and NATO agreed to this in May of '99 -- to have a review in 2002. Even the exact time of the 2002 meeting is not set. Obviously, you have to back up on it a little bit.

So again, I'm sure that he will be very interested in hearing if there are any particulars. Again, I don't want to overstate. It's February 1st, so what do we have? We've got 12 days in office, or something like that. It's a little soon for particular decisions by the administration.

Thank you.

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