Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado
Rumsfeld: Well, questions?
Media: How can you describe their role in the context of the larger role on terrorism? What specific things have they done that you can talk about [inaudible]?
Rumsfeld: You can't talk about much of it. What you can say is this. As you think about our world and the fact that we were basically organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, big navies and big air forces, and we recognize that during this period we're not going to be fighting big armies, big navies and big air forces. We're going to be dealing with various types of asymmetric threats and low-end activities that are complicated, that are in some cases in countries that we're at war with. In some cases the problems are in countries we're not at war with. In some cases they're in urban areas. Sometimes they're at sea. Sometimes they're in rural areas. What we need to do and what we've been working on for over four years now is to put the emphasis on the capability to add to our conventional abilities the kinds of skill sets that enable us to deal with those asymmetric threats.
But they and a number of other units and element and capabilities that now exist in the United States armed forces are increasingly important. We have, in fact, significantly increased their numbers, the nature and quantities of their equipment, the range of tasks and activities they're engaged in, their authorities, and now as a supported as well as a supporting command, Special Forces, Special Operations. The nature of their work often, as I mentioned earlier, is not the kind of thing that is seen on news reels. It doesn't involve large movements of people, it involves small movements of people, and to be successful in what they do and to be able to keep doing what they do tends to be a desire that we cannot do a lot of chatting about it. We are just as a country enormously fortunate that we've got folks like these who are willing to dedicate themselves to do [inaudible] with great professionalism.
Media: In regards to tempo for Special Operations Forces, are you concerned about that? Because they're so important in the global war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld: The tempo for all of our armed forces are something we want to keep our eye on, but what we've had to do is to make adjustments in the kinds of normal training activities that they're engaged in because the kind of activities they're engaged in constitute training in a very real sense. And I remember sitting with Pete Schoomaker one day and we were talking about readiness and he pointed out the fact that the units that had just come back have so much fabulous experience that it dwarfs the kind of training experience one would get in a normal peacetime environment.
So we do have to make adjustments and watch the tempo.
I must say the Special Operations Forces are managing to maintain a very high tempo, but they're doing it in very good form.
Rumsfeld: I talked to the President briefly about the hurricane, and he said the damage is just growing by the hour. Needless to say, the Department of Defense has a lot of people and a lot of capabilities that are engaged and on standby. I looked at a long listing of things that we've been involved in and will be involved in. The worry, obviously, is disease and illness that can come from disruptions of sewage systems and water systems and the absence of power. And so it apparently is a very very serious natural disaster.
Media: Can you give us some data points on the defense contribution?
Rumsfeld: We have them, and I think they're unclassified, and I think they're aboard the plane. It's several pages. We'll try to find an unclassified version of it.