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Rumsfeld Says Memo Meant to Make People Think

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2003 – The Oct. 16 memo Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote to defense leaders was aimed at getting people to think beyond day-to-day tasks and answer basic questions about the global war on terrorism and the department's roles, Rumsfeld said here Oct. 22.

Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers spoke about the memo following testimony at the Senate.

Someone leaked the memo to USA Today, and a front-page story seemed to indicate Rumsfeld believed the war on terror is failing. Rumsfeld said he wrote the memo to get people thinking about larger questions associated with DoD in the war on terrorism.

He told reporters the department is a large organization that needs to have a rhythm, but that occasionally it needs to be shaken up.

"Sometimes one needs to say to a big institution, 'Hey, wait a minute. Let's lift our eyes up and look out across the horizon and say, "Are there questions that we ought to be asking ourselves? Are ... there things that we ought to think about ways to do differently?"' And I do it periodically," Rumsfeld said.

Myers put the memo in context. He said the memo is something every good chief executive officer of a large corporation sends. "The larger an organization and the older an organization is, the more difficult it is to change it," Myers said. "And it's not going to happen unless you have the CEO bought into the need to change.

"The way we do business is, our boss is challenging us with a lot of questions on, ... are we changing ourselves to deal with this 21st century threat environment we find ourselves in? And it'd be interesting to count the number of question marks in that memo," the chairman said.

For the record, Rumsfeld asked 14 questions in the page-and-a-half memo.

Rumsfeld said one of the questions he asked dealt with developing measuring systems for long-term effectiveness. The idea is that the United States must do something to stop people from wanting to become terrorists or to support terrorism.

"We have lots of yardsticks and metrics where we can measure things like what's taking place in Iraq, what's taking place in Afghanistan, how we're doing in the finances, how we're doing in capturing and killing, for example, the top 55 Iraqi leaders or the top al Qaeda leaders," he said. "We know all those metrics.

"The tough one is the macro one," he continued. "How many young people are being taught to go out as suicide bombers and kill people? That's the question. How many are there? And how does that in-flow of terrorists in the world get reduced so that the number of people being captured or killed is greater than the ones being produced?"

He said measurements don't exist for that factor because it is too vast and complex. "But elevating that issue, I think, forces people to think about it in the broadest possible context, which is why I did so," he said.

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