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Rumsfeld: Time Running Out for Iraq; Reserve Support Needed

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2003 – Time is running out for Saddam Hussein to disarm, and any military solution is likely to draw heavily from the Guard and Reserve, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today.

"No one wants war, but as the president has said, Iraq will be disarmed and the decision between war and peace will be made not in Washington, D.C., and not in the United Nations in New York, but rather in Baghdad," Rumsfeld told a group of reserve officers in Washington today. "It is their decision. Either they will cooperate or they won't, and it will not take months to determine whether or not they are cooperating."

At a symposium of the Reserve Officers Association, Rumsfeld explained why the United States is contemplating military action against Iraq but not North Korea. He said "repressive dictators" run both countries and both pose a threat, but they don't pose the same level of threat.

Iraq is unique because "no other living dictator has shown the same deadly combination of capability and intent" to attack his neighbors and his own people.

"In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the United States and our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction for a reason, so that it can acquire territory and assert influence over its neighbors," Rumsfeld said.

North Korea, on the other hand, is "a country in many respects teetering on the verge of collapse," he added. "There is starvation." North Korea's history has been one of attempting to stave off economic disaster by using its weapons programs to blackmail the West, he said.

The Defense Department relies so heavily on reserve components because so many critical skills are found primarily in the National Guard and Reserve. Rumsfeld said he'd like to see this changed and noted that personnel experts in the Pentagon are working on the problem.

"If we want to have a total force and we want that concept to work, we've got to be respectful of the fact that people in the reserves and the Guard have jobs," he said.

Before heading off to Walter Reed Army Medical Center here to visit service members who were injured in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld told the reserve officers their contributions would be vital in the coming months.

"At this time of call-ups, alerts, mobilizations, deployments and uncertainty, please know that the American people are counting on you and have full confidence in you," he said. "We can all live our lives as free people in this dangerous and still untidy world and in this new century because brave men and women like you voluntarily put your lives at risk to defend our freedom."

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