Tyszkiewicz: Ladies and gentlemen, (inaudible) we are delighted to host our wonderful guest, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Mr. Donald Rumsfeld. Please join me in applauding him. (Applause.)
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
General, I am so pleased to be here. What's happening here is important in so many ways. First of all to the troops here, thank you so much for what you do, for your service. It's important. It's valued. It's valued by the people of the United States. It's valued I know by the people of your respective countries, and it's certainly valued by the Iraqi people.
We, this group, the General, the distinguished gentlemen behind us, are doing something that is also important in and of itself -- bringing together 17 nations with forces and another four, a total of 21, in support, to work on a problem that's important to the world is an amazing accomplishment. This division is taking over an important sector in Iraq. General Kelly -- Where are you, General Kelly? General Kelly has been here and been involved and is in the process and in the days ahead of making the final transfer of responsibility.
The work here will be difficult but a wonderful start has been made. The political leadership is in place and assuming more and more responsibility. The economic circumstance has to improve still more, and the security situation we all recognize is a difficult one in the sense that there are terrorists, there are former regime Ba'athists, there are criminals, and there are people who are willing to attack and kill innocent men, women and children. Not just Coalition forces but the Iraqi people as well. So your task is not an easy one, it's a difficult one, but it's an important one.
I wanted to come here so that I could tell the General how much I admire what he's doing, how much I admire and respect the leadership of Ukraine and Spain and the other total of 21 countries. I was in, for example, Honduras recently and I talked to the President of Honduras and was told that the Honduras unit here, I think they're all volunteers. Are any of them here in this crowd? Anyone from Honduras here? There's one in the back. Good for you. Well, we thank you for being here.
I will be, needless to say, watching carefully what happens here, wishing you well. And the thing that strikes me is that for this many nations to come together, to work together -- We've done a lot of things together as countries. Political things, economic things. We've had exercises together, we've had various types of training together, exchanges of schools. But this is a real world experience that's taking place here together. It's not an exercise, it's not training, and it's not an exchange of information. It is a task, an important task, and that these 21 countries are here is admirable.
So thank you all. God bless you all. I wish you every success. (Applause.)
Tyszkiewicz: Thank you very much indeed for your important words and you can be assured that we are fully aware of the importance of (inaudible)…the coalition is. We will do our best to accomplish and fulfill this mission and fulfill our best examples as lessons from our officers, U.S. Marines. (Laughter.) And say we must succeed.
Tyszkiewicz: We must succeed. There is no other way. No (inaudible). The United States (Inaudible.) and support us. We must succeed.
Rumsfeld: Very good. Thank you. (Applause.)
Tyszkiewicz: We will take questions.
Rumsfeld: Any questions for the General from the press?
Q: Mr. Secretary, (Inaudible.) U.S. forces, either short term or long term?
Rumsfeld: Of course as you know U.S. forces tend to rotate over some period of time. The General and his team will be rotating out. So (inaudible) that implication.
Q: What's the biggest challenge you face as you take over here do you believe?
Tyszkiewicz: Some challenges of course, I think the biggest is multinationally… (inaudible) 21 nations. Troops from different countries from all over the world. From Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Of course with different cultures and different (inaudible) and of course with so many languages (inaudible). In a very short time, two months, we are engaged one team for one mission. We also need (inaudible.) which the U.S. (Inaudible.).
Q: In terms of assistance, what is the U.S. providing for the (inaudible) south central sector in terms of equipment and monetary?
Rumsfeld: I (inaudible) recall having looked at it recently, the United States is, and correct me if I'm wrong General, has supplied some intelligence assistance, I believe some engineering, I believe some quick reaction capability, I believe some medical, some liaison forces, that type of thing. Probably some lift getting in, too.
Tyszkiewicz: Yes, and especially since the day the United States provided us (inaudible.) communicate with forces of other countries and during this operation we will be supplied by the U.S. logistics system. And of course we have here another area responsibility, some U.S. military police units, some communication units, intelligence units, the Secretary mentioned. And some medical units and facilities, medical casevac [casualty evacuation] as well.
Q: (Inaudible) how long American forces going to stay here in Iraq? What's the (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: The question is how long will American forces stay in Iraq. The answer that the President has given is we'll stay as long as we're needed and not one day longer.
Rumsfeld: I think that I prefer the way it's been said rather than responding directly to your comment.
The American people and the armed forces of the United States feel a responsibility to help contribute to peace and stability in the world, and we do that from time to time, from place to place. But our first choice, of course, is to have a peaceful world and a secure world without having to do that. When we do do it we tend to do it in a way that we help and then draw down our forces as we've been drawing them down in Kosovo and Bosnia, as you know. A lot of the nations here participated in the Balkans efforts.
So I anticipate that over some period of time, it's not really set to a timetable, it's event-driven. What takes place here and how fast can we encourage the Iraqis to assume more and more responsibility for their sovereignty and political leadership. How fast can we encourage them to take more and more responsibility for their security responsibilities for instance?
I was briefed by Ambassador Bremer yesterday, and I must say I found it remarkable that in four and a half months the Iraqi security forces helping the Coalition and helping the Iraqi city councils and the Iraqi Governing Council have gone from zero to something like 55,000. That's an amazing accomplishment in four and a half or five months. And the number is growing every day, as it should because it's the Iraqi's country. It's their responsibility to provide for their security, and over time I'm sure they'll be able to do that.
Thank you very much.
Tyszkiewicz: Sir, in honor of your visit, please allow me to make one more presentation the unit crest (inaudible). And next time you visit [inaudible] us we’ll have our multinational division south central crest.
Rumsfeld: Very good. Thank you.