United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DoD News

Bookmark and Share

 News Article

Rumsfeld Hails New Homeland Security Department as 'Welcome Partner'

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2002 – The Defense Department welcomes the creation of a Homeland Security Department "as a partner that can bring together critical functions in a new and needed way," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Capitol Hill today.

"Working with the other agencies charged with U.S. national security," the secretary said, "we will accomplish our common goal of ensuring the security of the American people, our territory and our sovereignty."

Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell, testified at the House Select Homeland Security Committee hearing on transforming the federal government to protect America from terrorism. President Bush has proposed creating a Cabinet- level Department of Homeland Security that would unify the efforts of about 100 government entities with homeland security responsibilities.

The defense secretary repeated the president's conclusion that a unified effort would provide clear lines of responsibilities for critical security challenges. He noted that similar government reorganization took place in 1945 when President Truman combined a collection of federal offices into what became today's Department of Defense.

The United States must respond to terrorism by employing all the instruments of national power -- diplomatic, economic, military, financial, law enforcement, intelligence, and overt as well as covert activities, Rumsfeld told representatives. Defending America requires a two-pronged approach, he said.

The first is to combat terrorism abroad by attacking and destroying terrorist organizations with global reach and pressuring countries that harbor them.

"We all know it's not possible to defend in every place at every time against every conceivable method of attack," Rumsfeld said. Therefore, he continued, the United States "has no choice but to take the effort to the enemy."

The second approach is to establish the new department as President Bush has proposed. Rumsfeld said the new department would coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local agencies to provide for security at home.

The Defense Department's role in both crucial efforts, the defense secretary noted, differs in important ways.

"With respect to the war abroad," he said, "U.S. military forces, at the direction of the president, are charged with engaging enemy forces and governments that harbor them." The Defense Department often takes the lead in these types of operations while working closely with the State, Treasury and Justice and other departments as well as the intelligence community in these types of operations.

There are three circumstances under which the Defense Department would be involved in improving security at home.

In extraordinary circumstances, Rumsfeld said, the Defense Department would conduct such military missions as combat air patrols or maritime defense operations. " DoD would take the lead in defending people and the territory of our country, supported by other agencies. Plans for such contingencies would be coordinated as appropriate with the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security."

The Defense Department would also be involved during emergencies such as responding to an attack or to forest fires, floods, tornadoes and other catastrophes. "In these circumstances, the Department of Defense may be asked to act quickly to provide and supply capabilities that other agencies simply don't have," Rumsfeld said.

DoD would also take part in "limited scope" missions where other agencies have the lead. "An example of this would be security at a special event like the recent Olympics," he said.

Rumsfeld noted that the recently revised Unified Command Plan makes a number of important changes to the U.S. military command structure. The plan established U.S. Northern Command as a combatant command for homeland defense. The secretary said he expects the command to be in operation by Oct. 1.

NORTHCOM will be charged with the defense of the people and territory of the United States against external threats. It will coordinate U.S. military support to civil authorities and U.S. security cooperation with Canada and Mexico. DoD also plans to establish a new office to coordinate homeland defense matters with the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies.

The department also aims to establish a new undersecretary for intelligence office. The new office should improve intelligence activities and at the same time, provide a single point of contact for coordination with national and military intelligence activities, Rumsfeld said.

"The primary responsibility for this office would be ensuring that the senior leadership of the Department of Defense and the combatant commanders receive the warning and actionable intelligence and counterintelligence support that they need to pursue the objectives of our new defense strategy," he remarked.

Under the president's proposal, the National Communications System, an interagency body of 22 federal departments and agencies, would transfer from the Defense Department to the Homeland Security Department. The transfer of the NSC "could be accomplished with little impact on the DoD," Rumsfeld said.

The $420 million included in the president's fiscal 2003 Defense Department's budget for the military chemical and biological defense program would be transferred to the Homeland Security Department. It would be used to establish the National Bioweapons Defense Analysis Center, which would have the mission of coordinating countermeasures to potential attacks by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.


Contact Author

Additional Links

Stay Connected