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Rumsfeld Tells Pentagon Workers Transformation Critical to Success

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2002 – If transformation was important on Sept. 10, 2001 -- which it was -- then it is even more so now, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Pentagon employees today in a town hall- style meeting here.

The secretary called accomplishments of the America-led international coalition in Afghanistan "truly remarkable." "Certainly every man and woman (in DoD), military and civilian, can be proud of making a contribution to those successes," Rumsfeld said, but added that this is no time for complacency.

"To prevent the next attacks we have to be vigilant," he said. America has to hunt down the terrorists and put them out of business, Rumsfeld said. To do that, the Defense Department needs to transform its capabilities, "the capabilities of our military as well as the way this department functions."

This will take U.S. military forces that are "faster, more agile, more balanced, more interoperable," he said.

"We don't need services running off in four directions, and then, when the balloon goes up, wondering why they aren't as effective a joint force as they could be," Rumsfeld said, "or even worse, (wondering) why the phone doesn't ring and they're left behind."

The secretary said transformation is shifting resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield. He first described his goal in those terms in a Sept. 10 Pentagon speech.

"I said that a person engaged in an unnecessary or redundant task is one who could be countering terrorism or nuclear proliferation," he said today of that speech the day before the deadliest terrorist attack in American history.

He noted life in the Pentagon is almost returning to normal. "But that we must not do," Rumsfeld said. "Our enemies, without question, are sharpening their swords. They are plotting even greater destruction, let there be no doubt."

People are the key to transformation, and DoD needs all the good ideas it can get. "Smart bombs are useless without smart people," Rumsfeld said. "A new idea overlooked might well be the next threat overlooked."

Rumsfeld told the Pentagon employees present that what they do is important. "Each of you, I know, is here to help ... make our country safer and better."

The secretary then took questions on such far-reaching subjects as Pentagon building security, attendance at his Pentagon press briefings, and the length of military tours.

"I like people to be in their jobs long enough so that they can see their own mistakes and clean them up themselves," Rumsfeld said in explaining why he thinks military officers should serve longer tour lengths.

In response to a question on the growing impression that America is taking more unilateral military action, Rumsfeld said he was going to steal a line from Saddam Hussein. "We have the mother of all coalitions going on," he said of the international troops assembled to battle terrorism in Afghanistan.

"What we have to recognize is that we need all the help we can get in this world," he said. "And like-thinking nations with us need all the help (they) can get."

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Town Hall Meeting, Aug. 6, 2002

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