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Pentagon Town Hall Meeting
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Thank you.  Please be seated.  Good morning.

Thank you so much for coming.  I appreciate having this opportunity to visit with so many of the men and women who help make this great Department of Defense work.

Over the course of the past couple of years now, we've met here several times for these so-called town hall meetings to bring folks up-to-date on how we've been working on transforming the Department -- to give those of us up on the stage an opportunity to hear your thoughts and concerns, and importantly, to thank you for the truly outstanding job that the men and women, uniformed and civilian, are doing for our country.

All of you, along with some 2.6 million active duty, Guard and Reserve Forces, and more than 700,000 civilians, are the backbone of America's defense -- I want you to know that your hard work and your sacrifice are appreciated by all of us.

In the past, I've come here ready to respond to questions.  But today, I've brought along reinforcements, as you can see:

  • Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dick Myers, and
  • The Vice Chairman, General Pete Pace.

While we work closely together every day -- this is really the first time that we've all four appeared at one of these town hall meetings to respond to your questions.

It's a bit unusual, but then, it's been an unusual year, and not just because of the Global War on terrorism, but because of what we have all accomplished together in a relatively short period of time.

The past 18 to 20 months have marked a turning point for this Department.  Not only have we conducted a new kind of war, but we have begun an historic transformation of the programs, the process, and indeed, the culture of the Department of Defense.  Specifically, we have fashioned a new defense strategy, with a new way of sizing our forces and new ways of balancing risks.  We've adopted a new approach to defense planning, something that Paul Wolfowitz has worked hard on, that initiates a capabilities-based approach, as opposed to simply a threat-based approach.

We're now considering the best ways to strengthen our forces to deal with the new capabilities that exist in this 21st century world of ours, rather than simply planning for a relatively narrow range of threat scenarios that could leave us less well prepared to deal with the inevitable surprises our country seems to face.

We've rolled out a new Unified Command Plan with important changes that establish;

  • The new Northern Command to better defend the United States and
  • Provide military assistance to civil authorities;
  • A Joint Forces Command that focuses on transformation; and
  • A new Strategic Command that merges the Space Command and STRATCOM into a single command responsible,
  • Both early warning of and defense against missile attack and long-range conventional attacks.

General Myers and Pete Pace have played critical roles in helping to formulate those changes, and General Myers has characterized the changes in the Unified Command Plan as the most significant of his long and distinguished career.  They would be happy to elaborate if there are questions on those subjects.

We've adopted a new approach for deterrence that reduces the reliance on offensive nuclear weapons and replaces the old nuclear triad with a new triad that includes both defensive and non-nuclear precision strike capabilities.  We've reorganized and revitalized missile defense, free of the constraints of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and we've reorganized the Department to better focus on our space activities.

We're also forging new relationships with a host of countries across the globe.  We've targeted a number of quality-of- life improvements for those who wear the uniform -- pay raises, improved housing through privatization -- and we've focused hard on better stewardship of the taxpayers' dollars.  They deserve it, and I'm determined to see that we make still more improvements.

All-in-all, we've done a great deal for an organization that is known historically as being resistant to change.  These changes, however, are vital not just for the success in the Global War on terrorism, which, of course, is enormously important -- but because they will mean so much to the future defense of our country in the decades ahead.

None of these things could have been accomplished without the expertise, the assistance and close cooperation of the military and civilian leadership and all of you.  And for that, I am grateful.

Before I introduce General Myers, however, I'd like to introduce a young man who's sitting right here.  David Bates is eight years old.  Why don't you come up and stand right here and let people take a look at you.

David Bates -- you better stand right over here, or you'll be hidden.  There we are.  David is here with his mother, and he is the winner of the Weekly Reader contest sponsored by the United States Army and the Pentagon, for his essay, "My American Value," which, as I recall, was on selfless service.  Right?  And he competed against 14,000 other contestants and won.  Congratulations.

And there's a naturally proud mother, Mrs. Bates.

So with that, I'll ask General Myers to say a few words, and then you folks will have the floor, and we'll all be prepared to respond to your questions.  Dick Myers.

And now we'd be happy to respond to questions.

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