Rumsfeld Says Visit Highlights Global Terror War
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SOUDA BAY, Greece, Dec. 10, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said his visit to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Qatar is an indication that the war on terror is global and an example of the new relationships the war is allowing nations to forge.
Rumsfeld spoke to reporters Dec. 9 shortly after his plane left Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for a four-day trip. He said each country is helping the United States fight the global war on terrorism in a different way, and that each is important.
The United States has around 1,000 service members based in Djibouti. Other U.S. service members transit through the area or use facilities in the region.
Rumsfeld said the al Qaeda network is operating in the region. "We know there are al Qaeda in the area in varying numbers," he said. "We also know that to the extent that we put pressure on them in one place, they tend to be disrupted and have to find other locations."
He said he is not going to the region to engage in transactions or to put pressure on countries or people.
"I'm here to demonstrate the fact that the United States values what these countries are doing. We value what they've offered to do, and we recognize the importance of it," he said.
He said the United States believes the war on terror will be long. "And the fact that it is a distinctly different kind of war, I think, is emphasized by the fact that we absolutely require the cooperation of countries of all sizes, on each continent on the face of the Earth if we're going to be successful in finding and dealing with terrorist cells," he said.
His visit to one of the poorest regions of the world shows that the United States values the help these countries have provided. He said the United States has had activities in the Horn of Africa before, but there is a difference now.
Since becoming defense secretary, Rumsfeld has maintained that the needs of the 21st century would require the United States to forge new relationships with many different countries.
"Sept. 11 accelerated that opportunity and deepened it," he said. Today, the United States is working with a large number of countries with which it didn't previously have close political, economic or military relationships, he noted.
"It is a good thing for our country, that the degree of that cooperation has changed what we're able to do in the world," he said.
Following visits to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti, Rumsfeld will travel to Qatar to check in on Exercise Internal Look. The U.S. Central Command exercise tests "transformational" concepts that would allow the combatant commander to exercise effective command and control throughout the area of operations.
Reporters asked Rumsfeld about the Iraqis' Dec. 7 weapons declaration. The United States, as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, will receive an "uncensored" copy of the 13,000-page declaration. Rumsfeld said DoD experts would be part of an interagency team that will translate and analyze the declaration. He said it was not the kind of report that people "skim through overnight."
Following persistent hypothetical questions, the secretary said, "It seems to me that the state of play is that the president went to the United Nations -- previously the United Nations had not been terribly attentive to Iraq. (The Security Council) decided to unanimously pass a resolution. The resolution called for a declaration. It has just been supplied.
"My impression is the rational thing to do is read the declaration and come to some judgments about it, and jump off those other bridges when you get to them."