Q: Were you able to ease India’s concerns about possible sales to Pakistan?
Mr. Rumsfeld: We had an excellent discussion about all aspects of our defense relationship. I don’t know if it is for me to characterize how other people react to things. The Minister can do that. But we talked about a full range of things and I don’t consider that to be a central part of the discussion at all.
Q: Did you discuss, or what can you tell us about India’s posture regarding support for the elections in Iraq, regarding additional training?
Mr. Rumsfeld: Well there again, it seems to me that Iraq was discussed at some length. We had a good discussion about it. I, as you know, Bob, leave to other countries to describe their reactions about things rather than me trying to do it for them. But they, of course, India has been terrifically helpful in Afghanistan with various types of assistance and humanitarian assistance and money, all of which is important.
Q: No sign of additional movement on Iraq with them participating in military or other?
Mr. Rumsfeld: As I say, I leave it to other countries to talk about their views about things rather than me trying to characterize it for them. I will stick with United States policies and decisions.
Q: Sir, can we ask you about yesterday and the issue that sort of was brought about armor and also the fact that several of these soldiers were speaking quite publicly about this after the event in Kuwait?
Mr. Rumsfeld: It is interesting to me this fascination. I don’t know how many people do what I do when I go out in front of the public and the world and respond to questions to people. I do it to the press. I do it to the soldiers. I think it is important that senior leadership meet with the troops, talk to them, ask them questions, listen to what they have to say. And I must say I find myself not surprised at all at the kinds of things I hear. There were 2,200 or 2,300 people there. It was a very fine, warm, enjoyable meeting. There were lots of questions that covered the full spectrum. There were questions that were highly complimentary and very friendly and very interested and very supportive. There were, I guess, three questions out of the totality of it that involved, one involved the issue you raised. And I think that is good for people to raise questions that they are interested in. It gives the senior military leadership that has the responsibilities for these matters, the chance to hear them and to listen to the concerns and talk to the people. I don’t know what that issue on pay was, but obviously that’s something that, if it involves a single human being, is important to that single human being. It is necessary for the army to hear that, do something about it, and see that everyone is treated properly.
Q: After the meeting did you have any communications with either General Whitcomb, or anybody back in the Pentagon, to try and speed things along even more than the steps you outlined?
Mr. Rumsfeld: In the meeting when a couple of the issues came up that were specific I asked people that work for us there to talk to those people, get their names, and to do something about it. I talked to General Whitcomb about it generally on the way out, and certainly, we intend to see that the people who raise those kinds of questions get responses.
Q: But specifically on the armor shortages, the concerns that soldiers raised about that. You addressed that to some extent in your remarks yesterday to the troops. But did you do anything else in the time since then, either calling back to the Pentagon or talking to Army leadership here?
Mr. Rumsfeld: No, I had been briefed on it before. This has been an issue that, obviously, as circumstance changed on the ground the military reaction to those changed circumstances follows. And that is the way war and insurgencies and combatants operate. You go in, you have an enemy with a brain that does things, and then you make adjustments. They then see what you are doing and they make adjustments. As you make adjustments it requires different kinds of equipment, different kinds of tactics and different kinds of approaches, in some cases different kinds of troops with various types of skills sets and training. Now, does everything happen instantaneously as the brain in the enemy sees things and makes changes? No, it doesn’t happen instantaneously. But it has been happening pretty rapidly and I have been briefed on, for example, we are doing whole host of things with respect to these explosive devices, whether they are roadside or vehicle born, and we have teams of people in Washington who have been working on it for months and months and months. We have put a lot of money behind it and we have developed different ways of dealing with it and had varying degrees of success -- in some cases considerable success.
With respect to the armor, if you think about it, some vehicles go from where they are to where they are going and they don’t need armor because they are going to be in a compound, stationary, or fully protected, and they tend to be carried on other vehicles between their point of departure and their point of arrival. Depending on the purpose that a vehicle is going to be used for, the military makes judgments about what types of vehicles with what types of armor should be used. They have priority lists in terms of the case in which they are adding armor. And if I am not mistaken, it was 400 that they are doing and then those are assigned and out. For the person who asked the question, some one has to sit with him, find out what, I have heard three different things about that comment on his part. I don’t know what the facts are, but somebody is certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows, that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know. That’s a good thing. So I guess it is a very constructive exchange.
Q: Did you discuss Iran with the MoD and did you ask for …
Mr. Rumsfeld: Where is the Ambassador? The word came up.
Ambassador Mulford: The word came up, passingly.
Mr. Rumsfeld: But it was not a heavy discussion
Q: But, they didn’t promise any help in you know?
Mr. Rumsfeld: Again, I will repeat myself. I don’t tell what other people are going to do. I speak for the United States Department of Defense. I let other countries say what they are going to do. The answer to your question is, the word came up in a meeting, but it was only in a passing reference.
Q: And what is your reaction to the passage of the Intelligence Bill?
Mr. Rumsfeld: Well, the President has been working very hard on it and, obviously, in recent days they struck a compromise that seemed to meet with the broad approval of both Houses.
Q: I mean do you think that it is a good …
Mr. Rumsfeld: I was a great supporter of the President’s position.