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Defense Department Operational Update Briefing

Presenters: Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; and General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs Of Staff
April 15, 2004 2:15 PM EDT
Defense Department Operational Update Briefing

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good afternoon, folks.  The coalition forces have had a tough period of days in Iraq, but the forces are performing with courage and with determination, and certainly the American people can be very proud of them.

 

            Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those American and coalition forces that have been killed over recent days, and for those lives that will not be fully lived, and certainly the individuals who have been wounded as well.

 

            What they're doing is important, it's noble work, and in the end it will be successful.

 

            General Pace and I talked to General Abizaid this morning.  He reports that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and that the situation in the south at this time is largely stabilized, while there are still various attacks and incidents taking place.  The coalition has had good cooperation from the moderate Shi'a leadership, who like the vast majority of the Iraqi people want to see freedom and the rule of law take root.

 

            Over the past year, the coalition has pursued a strategy of building up Iraqi institutions and strengthening the Iraqi people's capacity for self-government and self-reliance.  The progress that's taken place in governance, security, and in essential services all represent a threat to the goals of the terrorists and the regime remnants, which is very likely why as the transfer of sovereignty approaches those folks have stepped up their efforts to sow violence.

 

            The terrorists and the leftovers of Saddam Hussein's regime also have a strategy.  Their objective is to break the will of the American people and drive the U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq; to foment civil war among Iraqis, as has been announced in one of the intercepted letters; and to stop the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.  Their strategy is failing.

 

            Far from leaving, coalition forces have responded forcefully to recent attacks.  The threats in Fallujah are being contained.  Sadr's bid to dominate the Shi'a and to foment a popular Shi'a uprising are both failing.  Progress towards self-government and self-reliance continues.  Our coalition has more than 30 nations in Iraq and they are standing firm.

 

            General Abizaid has requested additional combat capability for the period ahead above the current level that has been the pattern, which has been plus or minus 115,000 troops in Iraq.  The current level, because of the deployment/redeployment transfers is about 137,000.  I've approved General Abizaid's request.

 

            After our comments here, General Pace and I will turn the meeting over to General Casey and his associates, and they will be prepared to provide some additional detail.  But essentially we've approved the extension of roughly 20,000 forces, people who are currently in the theater, of which roughly a quarter, as I recall, are likely to be Guard and Reserve personnel.  The period will be for up to an additional 90 days in Iraq and up to 120 days total deployment.  Note that this does not represent a freeze on all of the forces that were scheduled to rotate out of Iraq.  Of the roughly 115,000 troops that had been scheduled to rotate out, some 36,000 are still in the theater.  And of that 36,000, a portion -- as I said, about 20,000 -- will likely be retained for a period, while the remainder will continue their rotations home.  If additional capability is needed in Iraq, longer than the up-to-90 days that General Abizaid anticipates, the current plan is to replace them by bringing in other forces; that is to say, replace those that would be extended by bringing in other forces from other locations in the world.

 

            Needless to say, we regret having to extend those individuals. They had anticipated being in country or in the AOR something like up to 365 days; this will extend their time in Iraq somewhat.  But the country is at war and we need to do what is necessary to succeed.

 

            Let me add that we have been and are using emergency powers that are granted by Congress to increase the overall number of U.S. military forces above the so-called statutory year-end strength number.  We will continue to use those authorities to adjust force levels as is necessary.

 

            As I've said, we're engaged in a test of will.  We'll meet that test.  A small band of terrorists are not going to be permitted to determine the fate of the 25 million Iraqi people.

 

            General Pace.

 

            GEN. PACE:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

 

            Of those forces that are remaining in country, the units that will be described to you here by General Casey and his team, include the 1st Armored Division -- elements of that 1st Division; the 2nd Cavalry Regiment; some helicopter units and engineers to support them in a maneuver; they're combat support and combat service support, the logistics and the mechanics and the maintainers who keep the force moving.  And as the secretary said, about one-fourth of those are Guard and Reserve.  Certainly to those families of those soldiers, we thank them for their continued sacrifice, and to the employers of the Guard and the Reserve for their continued contribution to this war on terrorism.  It's not an easy sacrifice, but as the Secretary mentioned, it's a very worthy cause.

 

            With that, we'll stop for your questions.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Charlie?

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, it appears that what you're saying is that about 135,000 troops will remain in Iraq for maybe 90 days or more. Is that what you're saying, that the numbers will not be drawn down to about 115,000, but 135,000 will remain?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think I'll let you ask -- I don't know if General Casey can speak to the Army.  But I did not bring the sheet down, and I'll have -- is that roughly right?

 

            GEN. PACE:  That's right, Charlie.  There's still some forces that are en route to go over.  So you have, as the Secretary said, about 36,000 who are there right now who were due to come home.  You have an additional group that's on the way over.  And of the 36,000 that is there now due to come home, about 20,000 will be retained.  So that the total of retained, added to 115,000 would take you up to about 135,000 -- about.

 

            Q     And you're fairly confident that after 90 days, you'll be able to start drawing down to, say, 115,000, or you just don't know?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You know me, I'm not going to set -- it depends on the facts on the ground.  We've said all along, from the very beginning, we'd use the level of forces that are necessary to prevail. That was true during the major combat operations, it's been true during stabilization operations subsequently.  And you can't predict the future, you just simply cannot do that, so why bother?  Why try?

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, I have a question for you that is really much the same as the question asked the president Tuesday night by The Washington Post reporter.  And since two days have gone by, I hope perhaps your answer would be a little more definitive than the president's.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, come on, Ivan!  You can do an original question --

 

            Q     Well, all right, let me do -- let me do an original question --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You don't have to repeat White House correspondents' questions, do you?  (Laughter.)

 

            Q     Well, but it -- but it --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Reach down in the duffle bag!  Come on you can do it!

 

            (Laughter.)

 

            Q     Then I'll ask General Pace a question, if you'll allow me to come back to you.  Would you allow me to do that?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            Q     It's -- but it is a pressing question, Mr. Secretary, and that is to whom will the coalition turn over Iraq on June 30th?  It is totally unclear --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, we can answer that.  The president's press conference, as I recall, was prior to the time that Mr. Brahimi of the United Nations representative had made his announcement, I believe. And he has since made his announcement of the -- he has been in the country, consulting with a variety of Iraqis and by a variety of coalition people.  He has thought about it, consulted his cohorts in the United Nations and he has announced what he believes to be something that would be an appropriate interim step between where we are -- the Iraqi Governing Council -- and a fully legitimate constitutionally elected government of Iraq which would follow.

 

            So he's announced it.  The Coalition Provisional Authority and other officials, in the Department of State and the White House, have indicated that they think his approach was a reasonable one and it is now something that I'm sure Iraqis and others will have a chance to look at, discuss, think about.  And it is -- one has to say that the odds favor a model something like what Mr. Brahimi announced.

 

            Q     So when do we know specifically the make-up, how many Shi'a, how many Kurds, how many Sunnis?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think he probably, being a skillful diplomat, probably -- I did not follow every word of his presentation, but my guess is what he did was he presented it not as a U.N. model, and not as his model, but what his best judgment is as to a model that seems to be appropriate.  And there may be pieces of it that would get worked out as people get -- it will involve a process of people talking to each other and deciding who fits in those various pieces. And during that process there may be some tweaking of it, but I think very likely what you see is what you'll get.

 

            Q     Could I ask my question of General Pace, sir?  Will you allow that?  A quick one.  We don't want him to be up there without questions.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            Q     General Pace, there are so-called pundits inside the Beltway, that we're all familiar with, who claim that the 20,000 initial troops are fine, but that perhaps an equal number will be needed in the near future.  I know you're not going to comment on the number, but specifically, these pundits are saying that another heavy division is necessary.  More Abrams, more Bradleys.  Would you comment on that, please?

 

            GEN. PACE:  What General Abizaid and General Sanchez have requested of the president through the secretary is exactly what they're getting.  It is sufficient and correctly sized for the threat that they now face.  It is a large chunk of the 1st Armored Division; it is the 2nd Cavalry Regiment; it is helicopters and engineers, logisticians and the like, all of whom together form a very formidable force.  It is what they asked for now.  And as the president has told us many times, the battlefield commanders will describe their needs to the secretary and the president, and they will be provided as needed.  That is what the battlefield commanders are saying they need right now, and that's what's being provided.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes?

 

            Q     General Pace, the units you mentioned have had some elements return to their home stations.  Will any of those troops be called back immediately into the combat zone?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No.

 

            GEN. PACE:  No.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Pam?

 

            Q     I have a question for each of you.  General Pace, would you please explain to us what's going on in Najaf and Fallujah in as much detail as you can, and pay particular attention to the negotiations that are ongoing?  I'm confused as to what is actually being negotiated.  What is it the United States wants to happen there, and what are willing to give up?  Is "negotiation" the right word?  You say we don't negotiate with terrorists.

 

            And, Mr. Secretary, could you please address the question of -- with regard to Sadr, who decided to close the newspaper and announce that there was a warrant out for his arrest before the military actually had a chance to act on that?  It seems to me that's sort of broadcasting your intentions beforehand and maybe contributed to some of the troubles that are there now.  And if you'd speak in general to the policy of closing newspapers in Iraq.  While I understand the rationale for it, it seems to me it's maybe not the best precedent to set for when the new Iraqi government comes in --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Wait a second.  You're into your third or fourth question.

 

            Q     But I think that it's really important --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yeah, but -- but it's --

 

            Q     I mean, it would be lovely if we could boil everything down about Iraq to five or six words, but we just can't.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Let's start with Sadr.

 

            Q     All right.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  My recollection, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the Iraqi system, the Iraqi court system and legal system designated the individual who was arrested as one who should be arrested.  And the decision, I believe, was made by Iraqis, and I believe that the Coalition Provisional Authority very likely approved it.

 

            Q     No, I don't have a problem with the decision that was made, but --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You said "who made the decision."

 

            Q     Who made the decision to close the newspaper and announce publicly that he was being sought for arrest before the military was able to go after him?  It seems to me that that sort of ends up motivating his supporters to oppose it and make it more difficult to catch him.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Who is "him" in this case?

 

            Q     Sadr.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Sadr himself.  I thought you were talking about the lieutenant that was arrested, Sadr's lieutenant who was arrested.

 

            Sadr has been unavailable for some time.  And I suppose that the Iraqi decision involving his lieutenant and the newspaper -- the newspaper undoubtedly falls into a normal set of rules as to what was going on, and they were undoubtedly inciting the kinds of things that the circumstances there don't permit.  But if one were to wait until Sadr was available -- he already knew what the Iraqi court had said about him and his possible connection to the Khoei murder, so it was no great surprise that that announcement was made.

 

            GEN. PACE:  In Fallujah what you have is the United States Marines applying very precise application of combat power.  They began, as you would expect, in a very aggressive way and were, in fact, killing many of the enemy; but they were getting deeper and deeper into the city, and as will happen with combat, you're going to have destruction of things in the city which, in the humane fight that we're trying to conduct, we are trying to avoid.  So the military commanders have paused offensive operations in Fallujah to give the Iraqi Governing Council and those interested in peace in Iraq -- to work through the details of settling that situation without having to continue the offensive operations on the ground.  That is what is happening there.

 

            In Najaf we have again coalition forces that have been moved into the area, again giving the Iraqi Governing Council and others interested in peace the opportunity to work through the details with Sadr.

 

            Q     Will you be satisfied with anything other than complete surrender?

 

            GEN. PACE:  I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question.

 

            Q     If you would be satisfied with anything other than complete surrender of the enemy force in both of those cases.

 

            GEN. PACE:  The military forces will execute the mission that we're given.  Right now the mission is to hold our positions and give the Iraqi Governing Council the opportunity to work inside their own country for the peace and security of the people in both An Najaf and Fallujah.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  If folks could stick to one question, we could get around the room and touch on more people.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q    Mr. Secretary, thank you.  It's an election year in India and also here we have in the U.S.  But some opposition parties in India need a clarification.  And now that India and Pakistan are getting closer, they are getting to the level of friendship, but there is a misunderstanding as far as -- if you can clarify, Mr. Secretary -- that you have given the status of strategic partnership to India, between India and the United States, and also at the same time, differently, special non-NATO ally status to Pakistan.  Where do we stand on -- can you clarify what is the difference between the two?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, I'll tell you, those are announcements that are made by the Department of State and the president, and I think the questions are best directed there.  I can characterize our relationships, however.

 

            We have a close and increasingly close relationship with each of those countries.  We have been extremely pleased with the fact that they have moved in a number of ways towards discussions and reduction of tensions that existed, as you'll recall, over the past year to two years, and the progress that's being made there is excellent.  We value our relationship with each country.  They are different countries and our relationships are slightly different, but I think trying to grade them in some way wouldn't be useful.  I know that we have -- each month I have been here, we have seen an increase in closeness in the military-to-military and defense-to-defense relationships with each of those countries.  In each case, we value them.

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            Q     Are you planning a visit to India or Pakistan, sir?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, I hope so someday.  I certainly try to make that stop every once in a while.

 

            Q     General Pace, to follow-up to your question on Fallujah, you said there was a pause in offensive operations to allow assistance to get to the Iraqis.  How much of that was also to get supplies to the Marines, and is there a problem with the supply lines in the south, especially with the loss of a bridge?

 

            GEN. PACE:  None of it was to get supplies to the Marines.  The loss of a bridge is significant, but did not stop us with the kinds of transportation we have, both air and ground.  The pause has been -- and I should make sure because I'm using very specific terms -- this does not mean the fighting has stopped.  The elements in Fallujah that are anti-freedom are still attacking Marines, and when they attack they are killed.  So we are dealing with them in a very aggressive, offensive way when they attack us, but we are not moving through the city, giving the Iraqi government a chance to function.

 

            Q     General Pace?

 

            Q     General?

 

            GEN. PACE:  In the back.

 

            Q     General Pace, talking about Fallujah, we continue to hear from Marine commanders that there are a lot of foreign fighters on the ground and perhaps a lot of them are being killed.  Can you describe the enemies that they're facing there in Fallujah?  Is it largely foreign terrorists?

 

            GEN. PACE:  Don't know yet because there are still many in the city, so we're not sure what the flavors of those who are fighting are yet.  Clearly there have been a lot of fighters who have been killed, but to try to describe a percentage or a type of fighter right now, I don't have that data.

 

            Q     If I could follow up, Monday General Abizaid chastised Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah for their coverage of Fallujah and saying that hundreds of civilians were being killed.  Is there an estimate on how many civilians have been killed in that fighting?  And can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I can definitively say that what Al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.

 

            Q     Do you have a civilian casualty count?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Of course not, we're not in the city.  But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians.   That's just outrageous nonsense!  It's disgraceful what that station is doing.

 

            Q     General?

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, can I ask you a question about your opening statement --

 

            Q     General?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes?

 

            Q     General Pace, to what extent did the Joint Staff conclude that keeping an additional 20,000 troops in Iraq will stretch an already overtaxed force?  The Joint Staff was looking at the implications over the next six months, over the next 12 months.  What conclusions did you come to in terms of overtaxing the force?

 

            GEN. PACE:  You're asking the right guy.  I'm responsible to the Secretary and the Chairman to do that math and to look out one year, two years, three years and make those determinations.  And we worked this very, very specifically and very hard over the last couple of days to ensure that as we provided to General Abizaid the forces he needed, that we will be able to continue to provide a like-level force for as long as needed into the future.  And what we have concluded is that this allocation of forces is sustainable for as long as we need to.

 

            Q     And there's no impact on our commitments in Korea or other parts of the world, and the war on terrorism?

 

            GEN. PACE:  We have the capacity, with 2.4 million individuals available to us, active, Guard and Reserve, to handle this ongoing war and anything that I can think of that's on the horizon.

 

            Q     And budgetary impact --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Jamie?

 

            Let's -- that's a third.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, the other night at his press conference, President Bush was asked as he looked back before September 11th, could he identify any mistakes that were made and what he might have learned from them, and he couldn't come up with any.  I'm wondering how you would answer that question.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't know that we've got time here to run through all of the things that one would have wished were different. But, obviously, we did a great deal of planning for things that did not go wrong.  They may not have gone wrong because of the planning and because of the work that was done in anticipation.  Conversely, if someone had said, "Would you, a year ago, have expected you would be where you are at the present time," obviously one would not have said that -- one would not have described where we are.  And is it possible to have described it?  I don't know.  Maybe someone could have.  But it would have been --

 

            Q    I'm not sure what you're referring to there.  Are you talking about the situation in Iraq?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Today in Iraq, yeah.  Weren't you referring to Iraq?

 

            Q     Well, I was just referring to -- (inaudible) -- but when you said you couldn't anticipate, you know, the situation exactly the way it is today, I just want to make clear that we're talking about Iraq.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Iraq.  Absolutely.  Yeah.  And what's taking place there is that you're taking a country that has had decades of a repressive system and a command economic system and trying to get from there to a representative and a democratic system.  And it's a tough road, and it's a bumpy road and, I'll be honest, it's an uncertain road.  And there's not the kind of experience -- and we knew this.  We know that they didn't have the kind of experience in compromising and negotiating and agreeing to a give-and-take process, because they basically were told to do what they were told, or else they were killed or put in jail.

 

            One can argue in retrospect should the process have gone faster, and it's a little hard to know.  I personally have always believed that having the responsibility for something forces people to either conduct themselves in a way that they take that responsibility or fail to take it, in which case they get replaced by somebody else.  And we're in a stage where we're just in the process of passing over that responsibility.  And we'll know a lot better how it's worked out in two months, after that responsibility gets passed over.

 

            Q     I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I want to make sure I understand what you're saying.  Are you conceding that you didn't anticipate that the level of violence that's going on in Iraq now, the level of the insurgency, the fact that you're taking more casualties now than you were a year ago when you were still in major combat, are you conceding that you didn't anticipate that?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I am saying that if you had said to me a year ago, "describe the situation you'll be in today one year later," I don't know many people who would have described it -- I would not have -- described it the way it happens to be today.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, can I ask you about your opening statement? You said that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and that the situation in the south has largely stabilized.  And I wonder, if that's the case, why then is it necessary to keep extra troops in Iraq for 90 days?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, the reason it's contained is because we have the extra troops there.  That's self-evident.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, come on.  People are fungible.  You can have them here or there.  The fact of the matter is, we've made a judgment and we've announced the judgment.  It's very clear.  You understand it -- everyone in the room understands it -- that we needed additional -- the commander decided he would like to retain in-country an additional plus or minus 20,000 people, and that's what we're doing.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The situation in Fallujah General Pace has described precisely, and it is not over, and it will end.  And it will end at some point without the people currently terrorizing the people of Fallujah in that town and holding that town, it will end with them not doing that.  And you can put them into several categories, as General Pace suggested.  One, there are some foreign terrorists there. There are also some foreigners who have lived in that city a long time.  And there are also some Iraqis who are dead enders.  And it's a mixture of several elements, and I can't tell you which percentage it is or exactly how many there are; no one can.  We will know --

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We will know a lot more about that, who they are and the numbers soon.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes, in the back.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, a lot of disappointed families today of those troops that are being extended.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You bet.

 

            Q     What degree of certainty can you give those families, sir, that after these 90 days that's it, they're coming home, they won't be extended again?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, I've said -- and the commanders of those forces will be communicating directly with them, and that's the proper chain for these communications to take, not to the press.  It's better if their families and the individuals are told directly.  But what we've said very carefully and very precisely is that we expect that they will be in Iraq for up to 90 additional days.  We have said that we expect that they could be deployed for up to 120 days.  That is to say, when you go from Iraq you may go to Kuwait for a period and then you may be deployed en route and being transported, and then you have leave and that's still part of the deployment.  So that's why the extra period between 90 and 120.

 

            And we have said that, to the extent people are needed there beyond that period -- that General Abizaid comes up and says, look, I said I only needed these people for this period, but the situation on the ground is such that I need roughly that same number of people or some more or less for a period beyond that -- we have said and General Pace has said that plans have been put in place so that we can move other people in there to fill their shoes.

 

            Now, you said what assurance can you give people.  That is what we have said, and we have also added the other comment, and the other comment is look, our country is engaged in a global war on terror.  We have things we simply must do.  And as with everything, there's always the final phrase that we will do what it is we have to do to be successful.

 

            Q     So at the outside, it could be extended again?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You could put it that way, if you wanted to cause people concern.  On the other hand, you could take what I said and report it that way, which I would find accurate.  (Laughter.)

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, there's been some frustration expressed by the Marines in Fallujah, some of the Marines, that sitting still, they're just sort of sitting ducks now and they want to understand the justification for this cessation of offensive operations.

 

            We hear people talk about the folks who are attacking them, calling them thugs and terrorists.  Yet there are negotiations going on right now.  I thought we don't negotiate with thugs and terrorists. Can you help us understand what are you trying to accomplish with this cessation of offensive operations in Fallujah, and who are you negotiating with, and why?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I will -- I'll try to reach for precisely the right words.  I think you didn't hear General Pace.  If I heard him correctly, he said there's a cessation of offensive operations, not operations, meaning that there still are engagements taking place.

 

            And second, there are discussions.  I don't know that I would characterize them as negotiations, nor do I think that a number of the people in Fallujah are the kinds of people that one would successfully negotiate with.  But for the sake of argument, use the word -- instead of "negotiations," use the word "discussion."  Now, why would one discuss anything?  Well, there are a host of reasons.  There are a lot of innocent people in there, and there are people who aren't innocent. And one would like to -- and I think the people doing the discussing tend to be either people on the Iraqi Governing Council or representatives of the people on the Iraqi Governing Council, or neighboring, for the most part, Sunni tribal leaders, officials.

 

            You should not take away any implication that the United States and the coalition forces are going to allow the terrorists to continue to terrorize that city.  Now, at what pace and in what way and with what preceding steps one might take of a political nature, an economic nature or a discussing nature is something that the people over there are thinking through and worrying through, and at the right moment they'll do the right thing.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, could you clarify one of your answers?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'm going to make this the last question.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, Senator Lugar has said he wants to hold hearings into the conduct of the war, could you have made any possible mistakes among other things.  Have you been asked to participate in that?  And, in any case, would you appear before that committee?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I have no idea.  My goodness, there are so many committees holding hearings on so many things.  I have not been asked.  That's normally something that the Department of State deals with that committee and we deal with the Armed Services Committee --

 

            Q     Could you clarify your answer --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  -- and the intelligence -- deal with the intelligence committees.  But --

 

            Q     Sir, could you clarify your answer on what you did not expect a year later, because you left me considerably confused.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'll try it for the third time.

 

            Q     If I could just tell you the part --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, I will answer it.

 

            Q     Well, if I could tell you the part I didn't understand.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'd rather -- I'd rather answer it my way.

 

            Q     (Laughs.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  What I said, I thought reasonably clearly, was that if a year ago you had asked me to describe where you would be on April 15th, 2004 in Iraq, how might you have described it?  And I answered by saying I would not have described it precisely the way we are now, and that is exactly how I answered it.

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            Q     Is it better or worse?

 

            Q     How would have you described it -- or how would you describe it?

 

            Q     Did you mean you wouldn't expect it to be this bad, sir? Is that what you mean?

 

            Q     We don't get what you mean.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost in the -- that we have had lost in the last week.

 

            Q     Well, some say you did not send enough troops in.  Do you think that's accurate now, that you should have sent more troops in initially to invade the Sunni Triangle, to deal with the situation?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (To General Pace.)  Yeah, should we have a go at that?  Do you want to do that?

 

            GEN. PACE:  Let me -- sure --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't know.  Apparently there's a problem with the hearing aids in the room on this subject.

 

            Why don't you have a go at it, Pete, just for the fun of it?

 

            GEN. PACE:  I've been in this job since 1 October, 2001, and I think I've been in every meeting with the Secretary and the senior [leaders] where we have discussed how many troops are needed.  And in every case, the civilian leadership has said to the military personnel, how many do you need, tell us what you need, you will get it.  The military folks, like me, have done our analysis of what we need on the battlefield and we have come up with the numbers we have come up with, and we have been given those numbers.  General Franks, General Abizaid, General Sanchez have all done their own analysis and have all come up with the numbers of forces that they need, and they have been provided those forces.

 

            It is a balance between having a huge number -- which means, oh, by the way, that's more people in a country that would like, as we would like, to not have as many foreign soldiers on their territory. Of course the Iraqis would like to have not as many U.S. and coalition on their territory.  So there's a balance between having X number of rifles available and having too many for the situation that's needed. And that's a military judgment.

 

            The military commanders have asked for specific amounts of forces, and every force that have been requested of the civilian leadership, we have been authorized to provide.  I don't know how to make it any more simple than that.

 

            Q     Were there missteps that were made that led us to this situation today?  Do you see any military missteps or other missteps?

 

            GEN. PACE:  No.  I will tell you what I think is happening today. I think what you have happening today is terrorists who see 30 June coming and are scared stiff that in fact the promise that had been made to the Iraqi people that they will have the opportunity to have a representative, democratic government, to live in freedom, to not have to subject themselves to thugs like the people we're fighting right now, that that is causing these thugs to attack more in a frenzy because they do not want this to succeed.

 

            Q     But you guys have long said that.  I mean, the military has long anticipated that before June 30th, there would be an upswing in violence just for the reasons you-all have articulated.  So what I'm trying to balance, from what Mr. McIntyre had asked, is that you anticipated a possible upswing in violence and the numbers were going to be drawn down even though you anticipated more violence.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  They weren't drawn down.  They were going to be kept level at 115,000.  Your question is inaccurate.

 

            Q     Well, I haven't (finished ?), sir.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Just a minute.  And in fact, the number is not going to change dramatically the number of incidents and attacks that might take place.

 

            Q     Sir, you said earlier that you would not have anticipated the number of loss of life of Americans --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  In the last week, that's right.

 

            Q     -- in the last week.  Yet we have heard from February and before that that the military, for the reasons you have articulated again today, General Pace, anticipated a rise of dead-enders, et cetera, to thwart the June 30th handover.  What I'm failing to understand -- and my hearing aid has a new battery, sir -- is that, if you anticipated this upsurge in violence, why would it be that you did not anticipate U.S. and coalition troops coming under heavier attack if you expect more violence?  And two, why would you have to wait until now to start to temporarily delay the exodus of troops rotating out?

 

            GEN. PACE:  I think the plan has been very, very flexible.  And I think the fact that we have swapped out 115,000 troops over four or five months has given us a spike in the total number of troops in theater for several months now that have allowed the commanders there to do exactly what they're doing, which is to say we have this situation, we want to retain this number of troops.  That is part of the flexibility that we built into the replacement plan in the first place.  So --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And we're going to -- we're going to --

 

            Q     (Inaudible.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We're going to call this to an end.  And we've got General Casey who's here, and his associates, who will be happy to discuss the troop-level plans for deployment and redeployment.

 

            Thank you.

 

            (NOTE:  General Casey's briefing is available under separate transcript.)

 

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