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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability en route to Turkey

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 05, 2001

Sunday, June 3, 2001

(Media availability en route to Ankara, Turkey)

Rumsfeld: All right. What's up?

Q: Well, let's start off by talking about your first day when you're going to be in Turkey and you're going to visit Incirlik. Can you give us some idea where you are in the question of making some changes in the way you enforce the no-fly zone in the north, or the south for that manner?

Rumsfeld: That is, the subject is the overall policy with respect to Iraq. Of course, it is something we've had a number of meetings on and we'll continue to for a period. We don't have any proposals to alter that at the present time.

Q: Do you have any recommendations from the CINCs involved? I mean you spoke to them as recently as yesterday?

Rumsfeld: Right. There's no question that I've had extensive discussions with both of the CINCs for the north and south, and with General Shelton and members of the Joint Staff and that type of input has been made to the NSC and the President.

Q: The obvious question, what do you think is the smart way to go?

Rumsfeld: We're looking at the totality of the issue.

Q: You don't want to discuss the military part of it at all?

Q: Is there a possibility that you can cut back those flights and still keep him in the box?

Rumsfeld: I don't want to speculate about that. The purpose, obviously, has been for the coalition forces to see that he is not in a position to impose his will on his neighbors, which he has demonstrated that desire to do, and to see to the extent possible without inspectors, that we try to control the flow of things into the country that would be helpful to him from a weapons of mass destruction capability standpoint. But at the same time to try and avoid inhibiting the flow of things that are needed by the Iraqi people. That is not an easy task. It is a complicated task and at its best, it will be done imperfectly. Even when there were inspectors in there it was practically impossible to really monitor effectively and locate with any high degree of assurance what was going on because he's clever and he's determined.

Q: Going to Incirlik, will that give you some additional insight into the effectiveness of the operation?

Rumsfeld: Well, it does two things. It clearly gives me a chance to thank the men and women there who are serving our country and doing such a terrific job. It also gives me a chance to focus on the subject and talk to people who are there on the ground and involved in the flights, and get a sense from them as to their views on it. Going to Turkey as well as Ukraine; however, it gives me a chance, (it gives) the United States a chance, to visit with two very important countries to us and to demonstrate our interest and involvement with them in what they are trying to achieve.

Q: How big of a factor is the morale of troops at Incirlik to your decision-making on what we should do with the no-fly zones?

Rumsfeld: Well, as I say, that is a piece of the total picture, and it will be addressed in its totality as it is being done through the National Security Council process.

Q: (Inaudible)

Rumsfeld: You know me well enough to know I don't set artificial deadlines on things that are out of my control.

Q: Let me ask you about the meetings with the defense ministers in general in Greece, Finland and Brussels. Are you going to be assuring these people that the United States in no way if it does begin to turning more toward Asia, looking more toward Asia from a strategic stand point, is not going to cut back ties with Europe or perhaps cut the 100,000 troops presence in Europe?

Rumsfeld: That question, which of course is typical of you, has about eight parts, each of which merits attention. First of all, there has been no discussion of troop adjustments in Europe and it would be wrong to inject that into discussion and cause tremors unnecessarily and inaccurately, so please don't.

Q: (Inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I know you do.

Q: So you say you're not considering it.

Rumsfeld: I said exactly what I said. We are of course looking at how forces are arranged, and force structures -- apart from size -- in addition to the question of structure, and what might come out of it I don't know. We're not at that stage. So to get people concerned how units might be rearranged at some point in the future would be inaccurate and imprudent and unwise, and I wouldn't do it.

The important thing to remember about Europe is yes, Asia is growing and is an important part of the world. Any suggestion that the United States is going to or ought to or might turn away from Europe is just fundamentally flawed in logic. If you think about it, if you look down from Mars on the world, what you see is a handful of nations that are basically like-thinking. They have essentially free political systems. They have essentially free economies, and they are not hostile to one another. They have no interest in taking other people's land or treasure, and they are essentially the ones in North America and Western Europe and Northeast Asia. There are others to be sure, but that relationship with Western Europe is so central to prosperity and the economic health of the American people and of the Europeans and the Northeast Asians. And what enables it is an environment that is hospitable to enterprise and to transactions, and to globalization, and to trade and to interaction of all type.

What underpins that is peace and stability. Without peace and stability, that's gone. And the thing underpins it all is the military capability and the assurance that it provides our allies and the dissuasion it suggests to other nations in the world. It is of central importance -- the relationship of North America and Western Europe -- and simply because some people have written articles about the importance of Asia, we ought not to allow people in any way to suggest anything other that that relationship -- the so called Atlantic alliance -- is central, important and indispensable.

Q: It may be time for the Europeans to take a larger role and for the United States to maybe even take a backseat to the Europeans on the issue European security?

Rumsfeld: Well, needless to say, the Europeans and President Bush has agreed, are moving towards an initiative for a European defense capability and the president has said we support that. That it needs to increase capability rather than detract from it. It needs to have the planning mechanism embedded in NATO, so that it is transparent and third -- it is my understanding that the third aspect of it -- is that NATO have the right of first refusal. The position of the Bush administration is quite clear on that.

Q: So I know you're going to visit with the troops in Turkey and the Balkans, in Kosovo, and I know you have some things to say to them then, but as far as peace and stability in Europe, especially in the Balkans, what would you say about the job they've done over the last few years, our troops over there?

Rumsfeld: Well, they've done a terrific job and it's not an easy job. It's a dangerous job, and it's not precisely what they were trained to do. They have been asked to do it by the president, the Congress, and the American people, and they've picked up, gone, and done it in with a great deal of courage, judgment and skill.

I might add, there has been a debate in NATO and among the countries that are participating in the Balkans about the so-called ground safety zone. And the issue was, it was put there originally to keep apart the local populations that had strong differences. As time went along and the government changed, it became clear that the ground safety zone was being used as a refuge because the NATO forces were not going in, and the effect of it was that the Serbs were not going in, and it so it became a refuge. It was a problem and NATO had a series of discussions about what to do about it, in view of the concern that if you allowed the Serbs to go back into the so called ground safety zone, you could have some of the problems that originally lead to the establishment of the zone. On the other hand, if you left it there as it was, it would remain as a refuge and a place where a great deal of potential for violence could occur and was occurring.

NATO decided to turn back the ground safety zone to the Serbs and it has been completed. It has been completed in a very skillful way. It has been completed quickly by a declaratory policy of saying: we are going to do this. You have plenty of time to leave. You have plenty of time to destroy your weapons. You have plenty of time to make other arrangements, whatever you may wish to do. But be on notice that it will no longer be a so-called ground safety zone.

Now, our folks participated in that and did a terrific job as did the other forces, NATO forces, and it's done. It was done with practically no violence; it was done in a way that was considerably more peaceful than even those who were advocating it -- as I was and General Ralston was and General Shelton -- could have hoped. It was done professionally by the Serbs, it was done professionally by the NATO forces, and it was done professionally by the forces that were in there that decided to turn in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of weapons. And in some cases, to leave if that was their preference. But it is a notable victory in handling a difficult job, and our folks deserve credit, just as do the other NATO forces as well as the Serbs for handling it with such skill and care.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I go back to Turkey for just a moment? How confident are you that the Turkish government will continue to give the United States permission for planes to operate out of Incirlik air base, and is that going to be a subject of your discussion, any reassurances from Turkey about how that operation is conducted?

Rumsfeld: As you know, Turkey has been very cooperative and supportive and helpful. They have assisted in a number of arrangements that have been very accommodating. We will certainly be discussing the situation in Iraq with the Turkish officials and Turkish government. I should say publicly they have been very, very helpful and we do appreciate them.

Q: So you have no reason to think that they might withdraw such aid or support?

Rumsfeld: They have been uniformly supportive and helpful.

Q: You just concluded a week of talks with the services chiefs and yesterday with the CINCs on terms of reference for the QDR. I was wondering if you could give us a sense of what those terms of reference are going to be and whether it addresses this question of whether it should be a greater emphasis of Asia than there has in the past?

Rumsfeld: I can't speak for how we're going to come out, because we aren't out and we haven't concluded these discussions. But the purpose of these meetings has been -- and they will still go on this week with the Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz -- and then when we come back, we will end up, one would hope at some point in the week or two thereafter, with some terms of reference and guidance for the QDR.

In some cases, it will be guidance, one would think, and in other cases it very likely will be setting up alternatives and asking them to be tested and examined. It will be in some instances, questions posed as to how is the best way to do something.

I think the Asia thing is overemphasized. The important concept with respect to Asia is that Asia is different than Europe and how you arrange for Europe is one thing, and how you might want to be arranged for Asia is considerably something else. The distances are different, the needs are different, the circumstances are different, and it would be unwise for the United States to not recognize those distinctions in what different capabilities may be needed, because of the fact we are a nation of has enormous interests all across the globe.

Q: To follow up just briefly...

Rumsfeld: It is not a zero sum game, as the way it seems to be handled in so much of the discussion, the imperfectly informed discussion I can see. It's not one-dimensional. If you recognize the need for different capabilities in the Asian area of the world, given the distances and the importance of the Persian Gulf, and the importance of the countries there that are evolving and changing, it's perfectly possible for the United States to address that in no way diminishes the central importance of the Atlantic alliance, and people seem to want to cast it as either-or, rather than both hands.

Q: To follow up, you said that one of the things you are doing is developing alternatives that could be tested. Have you come up with a testable alternative to the two-war capability, something else you can look at and measure against?

Rumsfeld: The more you talk to the people who fashion the two-nearly simultaneous, major theater conflicts, I think is the phraseology - they don't think of it as the "sizing mechanism." Then ultimately what you have to look at is what kind of world is it and what kind of capabilities do you think we best have with our allies that will dissuade people from engaging in mischief and trying to impose their will on their neighbors and that will dissuade them from wanting to have and if they have using weapons, powerful weapons, that can do great harm and damage to peace and stability in the world.

So to say that looking at a capability-based strategy would be a radical departure would be wrong, because the current strategy was meant to be a capability-based strategy. Through a series of interactions and shorthand, it has tended to become -- let me rephrase this. There are those who might say it has become a reason for continuing doing reasonably precisely what you are doing. Rather than looking at how the world has changed, and capabilities have changed, and therefore what kind of capabilities we might best have.

Q: All I'm asking, if there is some thought that this is not the most useful way of looking at how what were doing it, have you come up with an other way that you are going to test against this? Has there been any formulation of an alternative?

Rumsfeld: I've just given you one.

Q: What's the catch phrase for that one? A two-war strategy is very catchy.

Rumsfeld: I know it is, but I'm not into bumper stickers yet. You really have your mind wrapped around something before you can synthesize it all into a two-word bumper sticker. But the words I just used are not unuseful. That is to say, a capability-based strategy that looks at the kinds of things that need to be deterred and dissuaded and the kinds of things that will enable you to -- if you have those kind of capabilities with your allies -- reassure your allies, that the prospects for a reasonably peaceful and reasonability stable world are good.

Q: As you've examined the current strategy, taken it apart, and looked at it closely, what are the main weaknesses of the current approach?

Rumsfeld: Well there are several things, and I don't want to attribute it all to the strategy. There are several things about the two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts, which I would not say is the strategy. Some people would say that, and they think of that, and they use it as the strategy, but that is not the answer you get within the Pentagon. But some would say and suggest that, that construct contributes -- along with the process of itself, the decision making process in that institution -- contributes or at least raises the question, as to whether or not it is resulting in an overall defense approach that recognizes the changes in the world to the extent that it should. That surfaces and then balances risks and makes judgments in a way that dedicates sufficient resources to the future -- for research and development, transformation. Whether or not the process surfaces in a useful way and balances the risk against things like the people-related investments.

If you're constantly looking at the two major regional conflicts, then look over the last period of years, you will see that there have been deficiencies in funding for infrastructure. There have been deficiencies in funding for pay, deficiencies in funding for maintenance and repairs. Now you can't come into this fresh from Chicago and look at and not ask yourself the question, what is it about the interaction, the process, within and among the department and all of the various transmission belts for decision, and the Congress -- that leaves a military that has that many problems, with something as important as the human beings that populate the defense establishment and that serve in the armed forces.

Why is it at the end of the day each year, they seem to be the ones that get jerked around? Why is it at the end of the day that the process for whatever reason, ends of up not sufficiently recognizing how central people are to the success of the armed services? Now, why is it that process seems not to put what I consider to be, might be, sufficient emphasis on investment for future capabilities to deal with things are notably different?

And they are notably different. The information warfare issue is big; it is not small. The asymmetrical threat issues are significant; the proliferation of those weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, whether it is through terrorism, a cruise missile, or ballistic missiles, is there. It can't be nay said, or denied.

We have to be willing to face reality. You know, I have always believed if you begin with the truth, if you begin with reality -- you can argue about opinion, you can argue about policy, but if you're arguing about facts, you're in trouble. And when people politicize facts, because they don't like them, they disserve the American people and they disserve the people of Europe and the people of Asia. We have to be willing at the minimum to get them up on the table and look at them and say to ourselves: Okay, those theses are the facts. Now we've got the job of making policy decisions with respect to them. So the process is imperfect, and how to fix it and make it better, I don't know. But I have always kind of believed if you get decent, honorable, intelligent, knowledge people in a room and talk to them long enough, pretty soon some of it might end up in each other's heads. We all learn from each other. Goodness knows I'm the one who has to learn the most.

The people we are dealing with here have spent decades with these subjects. It's a mystery, and a question worth asking, and I'm perfectly willing to ask questions. The president asked me to do that. I'm going to do that, and if it makes people a little nervous sometimes, if it get misreported sometimes as though there is some decision when there isn't, and I've got to dig out of it, I'll dig out of it.

But something must be wrong or broken, if you can have terrific people in the armed forces and the defense establishment who care deeply about our country, are dedicated and patriotic, and are invested in doing it right, and an equally dedicated and patriotic group of people in the Congress who dedicated to doing it right -- and for whatever reason, there is a high degree of distrust, which everyone told me when I arrived here in January. There is no other reason why there would be all those reports required, all the amendments, and the size of the bill and the concerns and the letters and the phone calls.

If there weren't some glitch, something going on where we aren't working right, why would there be 128 studies saying our acquisition system is broken? Why would the GAO and Senator Byrd announce that we can't locate $2.6 trillion worth of transactions and documents if things were good?

What we need are incentives at every level of that department to be respectful of the taxpayers dollars. We simply must care. People all across this country have worked their heads off, paid taxes and want to be defended and protected, but they want to be done as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible and big government can't seem to do that. It's very difficult. The incentives aren't there for people and we need to find ways to do put them there.

But how? Its hard, you've got to have change. You've got to simply change the way the department is functioning. It is not functioning the way that satisfies me, that it is sufficiently respectful for the men and women across the country who earn the money and pay the taxes to fund this department, and we have to get this fixed. And we've brought in people I think who are going to figure out how to do that. It's going to take an enormous amount of energy. But if you have as I have just said -- and I believe that is a fair assessment of four months on the job -- you ask people what did you find? This is broken, that's broken, this needs help, this needs to be fixed, the ship building budget is under fund, the infrastructure is under funded -- and simultaneously every time anyone asks a question but how you might fix it or change it, (the answer is) "Aah, don't change anything; everything is fine."

Why? Well, change is hard for people.

Q: Are you talking about military representatives or congressional representatives?

Rumsfeld: I'm overstating for emphasis. I'm talking about human beings, including me and you. Well, I don't know you quite well enough, but change is hard for people. The problem with it is, if you ask a question about whether something ought to be changed, the implication is it might be, but they don't know how. And once they think, "Oh my Lord, something might change and I don't know how" -- that uncertainty understandably leads to concern, apprehension, and fear. That is understandable. But there is no way for anyone, most of all me, to even begin what to recommend the change unless I ask those questions. Therefore, we are in for a period where we are going to have to develop a different tolerance level for questions about what might be changed and how we might make it better. Because I am bound and determined to do that. I did not come down here to sit there and preside and make speeches and calibrate modestly. That may be what we'll do, but we'll do it having asked all those questions and concluded that everything is just terrific -- if it happens. That I know.

Q: Sir, among the hardworking and dedicated patriotic members of the armed services is the poor guy who is going to transcribe all those words, so I think in deference to him we ought to cut it off here, don't you think?

Rumsfeld: All right, fair enough, you betcha.