Rumsfeld to Meet European Leaders, Visit Troops
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2001 National Missile Defense, European security issues and a troop visit to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany are on the agenda for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s first trip to Europe for the Bush Administration.
Rumsfeld will meet Feb. 3 with defense ministers from NATO allies and other countries as part of the Munich Conference on Security Policy. Informally called the Wehrkunde Conference, the annual event is a chance for government officials, legislators, industrialists, defense experts and journalists to gather to discuss security concerns.
Rumsfeld will deliver a speech titled "Transatlantic Relations and European Security and Defense Identity."
The secretary will take advantage of the opportunity provided by the conference meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, NATO Secretary General George Robertson, British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon, Singapore Defense Minster Tony Tan and U.S. congressional leaders.
In these meetings, a senior defense official said, Rumsfeld would discuss weapons of mass destruction, cyberterrorism and other new defense threats and challenges. “A second issue that comes up underneath that but tends to be segmented out, is … national missile defense,” the official said.
NATO would be another issue. In his confirmation hearings and during his first press conference, Rumsfeld stressed the importance of the alliance. “He sees NATO as an incredibly important institution,” the official said. “I am confident that the Europeans will be interested in his views on European security defense. He will be interested in their views. And that ought to be a two-way street.”
Rumsfeld will speak with allies on the NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative and the issues of resources devoted to transforming the military capabilities of the alliance.
From Munich, the secretary will travel to Spangdahlem to speak with members of the 52nd Fighter Wing. The wing played a prominent part in Operation Allied Force in 1999. The secretary insisted on the visit as a chance for him to get input from the people in the force. The secretary has already begun the process -- speaking with the service chiefs and senior enlisted personnel.
“This'll give him a chance, first chance, to meet with the people who are actually in the operational force out there,” the official said. “He also wants to meet with the families very much, because, again, as you all know, the families are a huge part of this and this'll give him a chance to do so.”