United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 24, 2002

(Also participating was Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Rumsfeld: Are we early? Son of a gun!

Good morning. A little skinny in the morning here, isn't it?

As the president travels this week to speak to friends and allies abroad, it is useful to note that the war on terrorism is certainly not America's war only and that terrorism is not just an American problem. While terrorism has existed for decades as low-intensity conflict, its rise in recent years, its frequency, its intensity and its scope, as well as its use by terrorist networks with global reach, make it a problem that -- not just a few countries, but indeed it's a problem of civilized nations everywhere.

Terrorism has to be vigorously opposed and soundly defeated wherever it exists. Whether in Afghanistan, in Europe, America, Asia or the Middle East, we have to end state sponsorship and support of terrorism, and we have to prevent authors of mass murder, as the president has termed them, from gaining and using weapons of mass destruction. And we have to be willing to help the security forces of other countries to take strong stand against terrorism.

It's for these reasons that today we're not only in Afghanistan, tracking down al Qaeda and Taliban, but we're also in -- helping in Georgia, Yemen, the Philippines, as well. It's why we oppose nations like those harboring and helping terrorists. And it's why we continue to seek and appreciate the support of every nation that's willing to join us in this important effort. Interestingly, currently there are 68 nations supporting the global war on terrorism. Twenty nations have deployed more than 16,000 troops to Central Command's area of responsibility. In Afghanistan alone, our coalition partners currently make up more than half the number of non-Afghan forces working with us.

Yet as focused as we are on the war against terrorism, we also recognize the need to work with other nations in the region to enhance security and stability. In that regard, over the past year, the United States and India have charted a new course in our bilateral relations and have recently completed the second round -- I guess it was yesterday -- completed the second round of two rounds of talks, headed by Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, and the -- not the minister of defense, but the defense secretary, as they call it in India, Dr. Yogindra Narain. And U.S. and India share important interests in fighting terrorism and in countering the spread of missile and weapons of mass destruction technology to dangerous regimes. Our talks over the past two days dealt with a number of subjects, including military-to-military exchanges, joint exercise, joint naval operations, counterterrorism cooperation, as well as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

We also expressed our country's very serious concerns about the dangerous situation between India and Pakistan, and the need to reduce tensions between the two countries. We made the point that war is not an option, given the dangers of escalation and the risks of uncertainty in an armed conflict between two nuclear-armed powers.

On a separate matter, yesterday there was a report circulating that there were some 20 U.S. military missing in the Paktia area of Afghanistan. None of us in the department were aware of the report. We've since tracked it down. It turns out it was a release by North Korea -- the Democratic -- so-called Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As we indicated yesterday, it was not only not accurate, it was undoubtedly purposely inaccurate.

Finally, later today, General Franks and others will brief on the results of the review of the battle of Takur Ghar, which took place earlier this year. Central Command has conducted a thorough review of the battle. CENTCOM's briefing this afternoon will be straightforward, but of necessity, it will be within the limits necessary to protect certain operational details which we have to keep classified for the protection of troops that are still conducting operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. General Franks will describe the ground rules this afternoon, and we'll have a military -- from Tampa -- and we'll have a military person here in the Washington Room to provide some detail, I believe, on a background basis.

The battle, as you know, resulted in the tragic loss of seven American troops. Their death -- deaths are a reminder not only of the dangers that military men and women face in the war on terrorism but the valor they display in the face of enemy fire, a fact that we remember with special gratitude as we prepare for the Memorial Day weekend.

General Pace.

Pace: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Overnight, coalition Special Operations forces conducted a raid west of Kandahar. As they were going into the compound, where there was suspected Taliban leadership, they were fired upon. They fired back. Initial reports are that they killed one and wounded two and that there were no friendly casualties. They've also detained approximately 50 folks who were on the ground at that site and are going through the initial processing of those individuals. And that's all we have on that particular operation at this time.

I'd also like to join the secretary as we look forward to a very peaceful and pleasant Memorial Day weekend to say "Thank you" to the families of all those who have lost their sons and daughters in the protection of our country and for those of who wear this uniform today to rededicate ourselves to this country and to those who went before us. We will not betray the wonderful legacy and freedom that we have inherited.

Thank you.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.


Q: Mr. Secretary, Iraq: The airwaves and the newspapers are bound with reports of possible U.S. plans for a possible invasion of Iraq, and yet recently, senior administration officials, including the president, seem to be trying to disabuse people of the notion that there's any imminent invasion plan. The president said this weekend, no plans on his desk, and he seemed to try to calm German worries about it. General Franks says he's received no orders from you to formulate a plan for an invasion of Iraq. And there are reports in the newspapers that your senior military leadership has, indeed, told you that this is not the time to do it. Could you perhaps shed some light on this?

Rumsfeld: You know, Charlie, when you ask a question like that and you've got about six assertions in it, then it forces me either to go back and try to calibrate each one of those assertions, which may or may not be accurate, or else to answer generally. And so I think I'll -- without accepting the premises in your question, let me answer by saying this. The Department of Defense has a responsibility to assure that it remains, over time, in a position to do whatever the civilian leadership of the country asks it to do. And this department is clearly in a position to do what the civilian leadership has asked us to do or may ask us to do.

With respect to any one country, we obviously don't get into discussions about what conceivably could be done. And I don't mean to give that as a pointed answer to Iraq; it's a pointed answer to any country you might have happened to have mentioned. We simply don't discuss that subject.

Q: Might I follow up? Are you receiving mixed messages or one message from your military leadership -- that perhaps this might not be the time, given other pressures in the war on terrorism, to invade Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Well, first of all, we've not proposed that a country be invaded, to the military. Therefore, I don't know that it would -- I think it would probably be incorrect to say that the military has proposed something other than what I've proposed or anyone else has proposed. It's -- the problem with -- first of all, there is no military as such, just like there's no Europe and there's no administration. There are elements, there are people, and obviously you can find someone in a uniform who will tell you just about anything you want to be told.

And the idea that there's some sort of a single voice -- (chuckles) -- that speaks from this building, either on the civilian side or the military side, is simply not true, until the president makes a decision about something, and -- in which case, people recognize that that's the elected leadership of our country, and then we go about our business, trying to fulfill it to the best of our ability.

But I think that it would be inaccurate to characterize it. Maybe you'd like to comment. You're one of them. (Laughter.)

Pace: Sir, I am. I am. (Laughter.) Thank you for recognizing --

Rumsfeld: Goodness gracious!

Pace: I can't imagine a more robust flow of information between the military officers and civilian leadership. Daily, the chairman and the vice chairman, the secretary DepSecDef sit down first thing in the morning and discuss world events. And as the day unfolds, we get together several times a day. The Joint Chiefs have access and are involved in a dialogue. So any portrayal of there being a lack of opportunity for anything other than what it truly is, which is an open dialogue between the civilian leadership and the military leadership, is inaccurate. And I so much appreciate the opportunity I have to speak my mind on whatever topic I decide to speak up on.

Q: So if you didn't feel it was time to invade Iraq, you'd feel free to say so.

Pace: I'm not going to go to that point. I would tell you that I absolutely --

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.)

Pace: -- not only feel free, but I feel duty-bound to speak my mind to the civilian leadership of this country when it comes to operations involving the military.

Rumsfeld: I would want to underline something I sort of said in my first response: I hear all kinds of different views from people in uniform. I talk to people at all levels. I hear different views between General Pace and General Myers, just as they hear different opinions expressed between Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld. The -- it is a very open, easy relationship that exists, and it is not complicated. It is not mysterious.

It is a -- each of us continue to try to assure that we're working off the same set of facts. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And my impression is that we manage to do that very, very well, and, I think, any implication in any question by someone who's marginally informed or being advised by someone who's marginally informed to the contrary notwithstanding.

Q: Can I get --

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I do a follow-up on that, please?

Taking a different tack slightly: Given what you just said in your reply to Charlie and recognizing the Pentagon's responsibility -- I know you don't like "Pentagon" but -- Department of Defense's responsibility -- let me ask you flat-out: Is the United States or will the United States be prepared to invade any country by the end of this year if necessary, if it's --

Rumsfeld: You've got to be kidding. (Laughter.)

Q: That's the third time you've said that to me, and --

Rumsfeld: (Laughs heartily.) My goodness gracious.

Look: You've got to understand the way the world works. The way the world works is, the dumbest thing anyone could do would be to stand up here and start previewing things that somebody's thinking about or not thinking about or starting to disabuse you of each thing somebody tells you that we're thinking about, because then the first time we don't disabuse you, you'll say, "A-ha! That's what they're going to do." We don't discuss those types of things. We haven't from the time I arrived in the Pentagon, on January 20th of last year. And we won't as long as I'm here.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Can I ask about capabilities, specifically? If I could get each of you to just give us an idea of what capabilities that the military has would be strained or stressed in the event of a second conflict somewhere in the world.

Rumsfeld: The answer to that is something like this -- and then, Pete, you may want to comment. If you talk to a given CINC -- combatant commander in a given area, you'd get an answer that was restricted to that particular area of responsibility. If you talk to someone in the department at the military or civilian level, you would probably get an answer that would be appropriate for each CINC, and they'd be different answers, and then nationwide, or worldwide, where you could reallocate and reorder how these various types of capabilities presently are located.

The second thing I would say, if we had a serious shortage of something, I think it would be rather stupid to stand up here and announce it to the world, don't you?

Third, what we do is, as things are used -- as they have been, to be sure, in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- what we do is we see that happening and then we say let's get ahead of the curve, and you go to school on it, you learn. And you -- one of the lessons learned is that from conflict to conflict, the rate of usage of different things changes. And so your assumptions are that you -- you go into something saying to yourself, "I've got 100 percent of what I would likely need for that." But then you get into something and you discover, my goodness, you're using it at a rate that's different, which means that you've actually got 200 percent; you don't need half of what you got. Or you're using more at a faster rate and, therefore, you've only got 50 percent of what you think you might need. And then what you do is work with the people who make these various capabilities and either start getting rid of the things you don't need or increasing the things you do need. And it's a constant process. It's not complicated.

How'd I do?

Pace: Sir, you did great! (Laughter.)

I would simply add to that that your military is ready today to execute whatever mission the civilian leadership of this country gives us to do. The fact of the matter is, the more time you have to prepare for that kind of mission, whatever it is, the more elegant the solution could be.

But, as we learned on September 11th, we don't always get the chance to pick when we have to respond. And when you think about what your military did for you between 11 September and 7 October, when they mustered the force and went to a landlocked country halfway around the world, that we weren't even thinking about having to go to combat in, it gives you some flavor for the flexibility that we bring to the table. So I'm very comfortable that -- whether we have warning or not, that we'll be ready to respond.

Q: Mr. Secretary, but it is true that the military has said repeatedly they are stretched too thin.

Rumsfeld: What do you mean that "THE military has said repeatedly"?

Q: Military leaders --

Rumsfeld: Now come on!

Q: No, but uniformed officers --

Rumsfeld: You just heard what he said. He's in one!

Q: There -- aren't there other branches of the military?

Rumsfeld: Sure, there are other branches. But the military does not say what you just said they say. Individuals from certain parts of the country, world, will say that this or that needs to be increased or decreased. That happens all the time. It happens in wartime. It happens in peacetime.

Q: Many officers and also members of Congress have said repeatedly recently, over recent months, they're stretched too thin, they need more people, thousands of more people. So wouldn't that lead one to believe that if you were to engage in another military conflict, that it would be a problem, you would be stretched too thin, even more so?

Rumsfeld: I thought he just answered it. I thought he answered it well.

Pace: The only thing I would add to that would be the fact that in fact that, as directed by the secretary, we are looking at what we're doing worldwide, that we've been doing for many, many years, to determine whether or not the mission that we went on X years ago is still a valid mission, and are there things that we can do to reduce the number of things we may be doing that are not -- no longer needed.

But as far as our current missions and responsibilities and the projected ones, I'm very comfortable that we are ready to respond.

Rumsfeld: You know, just a little footnote in history. I believe the record will show that nine-tenths of everything that was taken over to the Middle East to fight the war of Desert Storm a decade or so ago was brought back unused. Now what does that suggest? It suggests that that -- (chuckles) --

Q: Overkill.

Rumsfeld: Well, no. No, it -- what it suggests is, it's hard to know precisely what you think might be necessary, and you want to be safe, so you have more than you think you're going to need. But that's not irrelevant. It's worth -- when you hear people say what they're saying to you, and then you hear someone in uniform stand up and say to the world what General Pace just said, and you want to kind of weigh them, I'd give a little more weight to Pete, myself.

Q: Well, just to follow up on what you said, nine-tenths they brought home. So you're saying, next time, no one has to bring nearly as much?

Rumsfeld: I didn't say a word. I just said it's an interesting little footnote in history.


Q: I'd like to shift gears for a second to something else completely -- Iran. The president, on the trip to Europe in the last couple of days, has talked about his concerns about Russia's nuclear relationship with Iran, and in particular, Iran's efforts to get nuclear weapons. I wondered if you can shed any light, your views, on your concerns about the progress you are worried about that Iran may be making in its nuclear program, the proliferation risk that that would pose in Iran, and whether you also have concerns that Russia has an ongoing nuclear relationship with Iran that is of concern to you.

Rumsfeld: Well! I've just been asked the question that leads to an answer, which is then characterized as inflammatory in the media. And the question is, should I refuse to answer --

Q: No! (Laughter.)

Rumsfeld: -- and therefore not be accused of being inflammatory or alarmist or something? Or should I just give the same honest answer I've given for six, eight, 10, 12 months?

Q: The same honest answer.

Rumsfeld: All right. If you'll promise not to characterize it as inflammatory or alarmist or anything.

Q: Well, there's a lot of witnesses in the room --

Rumsfeld: Okay.

Q: -- so I'll have to be careful.

Rumsfeld: You bet I'm concerned about Iran and its unambiguous effort to develop -- already has -- some weapons of mass destruction, but to develop the full spectrum of weapons of mass destruction. It's clear, it's unambiguous. And that is something that has been discussed in roughly the same tone of voice by me and by dozens of people over a prolonged period of time. It's not new. The president is concerned about it. And the president apparently has raised it in his meetings in Europe with, I suspect, more than one friend and ally. It's something we raise in meetings with other countries because it's something that ought to be of concern to that region and to the world.

Q: Do you agree with the assessment that some people make that now Iran could be within several months of having some sort of usable, realistic nuclear device? Do you think they're years away? Do you think they're making recent progress in nuclear weapons?

Rumsfeld: Oh, there's no question about it, they've been getting assistance and they've been making good progress and they have been determined to accomplish that goal. And I'm not going to get into how long it will take them, but there's no question but that they're on a path to achieve that, and they're receiving assistance from countries they shouldn't.


Q: To follow up on that point and get onto the missile defense issue: There was a report today that they've launched their fifth Shahab-3 flight test. A, is that true? B, what's the significance in terms of the regional threat on missiles? And C, what's your concern about -- this is a reminder that Russia is actively helping Iran develop that missile.

Rumsfeld: They've been getting help from North Korea, for example, with respect to missiles. They also have developed their own indigenous capability to produce ballistic missiles of increasing range. I have not seen any data that I could answer the question about the Shahab test that you're referring to.

(To General Pace.) Have you?

Pace: No, sir, I've not.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: (Inaudible) -- that development program, it's well known that they are developing it. It could range to hit Israel, hit southern Turkey. And Russia has helped them in terms of some of the booster engines. I mean, what's the significance here other -- that program along the lines of Iran's nuclear capability? Together, those are a major --

Rumsfeld: Iran is not a country that has warm, civil relationships with very many nations in the world. A country of that character that then proceeds to develop weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them is an unhappy prospect for its neighbors and for other countries in the world who want to contribute to a more peaceful and stable world, as we do. Our circumstance, our ability to continue as free people and not be terrorized and to enjoy the benefits of world trade and the economic intercourse that exists all across the world today is damaged by fear of war or war. It's damaged by instability. It changes everything.

And it is so central to our well being as a people and to the people of Western Europe and of South America and the rest of the world that the idea that nations of the character of Iran or Iraq have these weapons or will have these weapons ought to be of concern to thinking people.

Q: Mr. Secretary, let me take you back to India and Pakistan for a moment. You said in your opening --

Rumsfeld: Ask General Pace a tough one.

Q: Either one of you can answer -- or both, preferably.

You said that war is not an option. The United States is trying to "lower the temperature" between those two countries. What is your assessment about whether India and Pakistan -- to what extent do they actually have a capability to wage a nuclear conflict? And have you had any estimates on how catastrophic that would be? Are you using those kind of estimates to try to convince them to step back?

Rumsfeld: Well, there's no question but that they have a capability of waging a nuclear war. And needless to say, countries that are interested in that not happening think about those things.

Q: Yeah -- I mean, obviously it would be a terrible tragedy. Do you have any idea -- has there been any estimates done on how many people would die or what -- how terrible it would be?

Rumsfeld: I have a lot of information, and I'm not inclined to get into it here. But it would be bad. It would not be pretty. It would be not short-lived.


Q: Sir, your deputy, Mr. Wolfowitz, is going to Singapore for this regional security meeting.

Rumsfeld: He is indeed.

Q: What is the U.S. doing now and plans to do for the security in Asia? And I have another question, on the World Cup games in Korea and Japan. I understand that you have some troops there who are -- (inaudible) -- the games. Would you provide any detail on that?

Rumsfeld: Paul Wolfowitz is going to be at the Singapore defense conference. We, needless to say, have a very good relationship with Singapore. We take aircraft carriers into a port that they've provided and facilitated for us to use.

We have relationships with so many of those countries. Just in recent days, I've met with leaders from Malaysia and various other countries. Australia has been here not too long ago. So we're -- we have wonderful military-to-military relationships in that part of the world.

You're also correct -- (to the general) -- do you know the details of the World Cup?

Pace: I know that General Schwartz, who just left as the U.S. commander there, has been replaced at the end of -- beginning of this month by General LaPorte, had worked very closely with our Korean partners to assist them in making sure that, number one, the U.S. forces -- that the U.S. force protection is in place for the World Cup games, and to be able to provide intelligence and other kinds of support that the Korean government might ask us for, to ensure that the games are able to go off peacefully.

But I would not want to get into specifics about what they have planned, because it is, again, into ongoing operations, and that would be not right.

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: If Pakistan proceeds with the plan to pull troops out of the Afghan border to the degree that was mentioned, would you look to increase the number of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan or push harder to cross the border?

Rumsfeld: There's no question but that the tension on the Indian-Pakistan border has altered already the number of Pakistani troops that are on the Afghan border, and certainly altered the number that could be there and would very likely be there, were there not that tension. General Franks is aware of that, and it would be the combatant commander's decision as to how he dealt with that in the -- in -- if and when additional forces depart the Afghan border, which they have not yet done.


Q: Has your contingency planning for evacuating U.S. people from the embassies in Pakistan or in India changed at all in the last couple of days, given the rising tensions over there?

Rumsfeld: No. Not to my knowledge. As you know, one of the responsibilities of the department is to continuously keep on the shelf various types of contingency and evacuation plans, but they have not been changed that I know of.

(To General Pace.) Do you know of any?

Pace: No, sir. We periodically review those to make sure that they are responsive to whatever the contingency might be.

Rumsfeld: Yeah?

Q: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to go back to General Pace on Iraq for just a second. You said you were duty-bound to tell the administration the Joint Chiefs' thoughts. Are you -- do you also feel duty-bound to tell the American people what the people in the Joint Chiefs of Staff are saying, if they have any concerns about an Iraq situation, particularly sending in troops where they might face biological weapons, or sending them in where they might need a large number? Do you feel a duty-bound obligation to say something to the American people about what the Joint Chiefs of Staff might be saying?

Pace: First of all, the dialogue -- and it is a dialogue that goes on daily, and frequently hourly -- between the civilian leadership and the uniform leadership, is very robust and is encouraged --

Rumsfeld: That's the understatement of the morning.

Pace: -- and is encouraged. So I feel like I, personally, and the other chiefs, have as much opportunity as we need to say whatever we want to say to our leaders. I will tell you that I believe I do inform the civilian population of the country as a whole when I inform the civilian leaders that they've elected of whatever my concerns may or may not be in a particular area of the world. So my responsibility is, as a member of the Joint Chiefs, to provide the best military advice I can to our elected and appointed civilian leaders.

Q: And you can't share that now with the American people, what some of those concerns are?

Pace: First of all, the short answer to the question is no. (Laughter.) But the longer answer is, is that we have dialogue about operations worldwide. And to try to focus that down into one spot right now is truly to do a disservice to the amount of energy that's being expended on all of our responsibilities in the war on terrorism.

Q: General, also on Iraq, they have fired some SAMs at us recently, and we've hit some other SAM sites recently as well. Do you see any indication that this is any kind of escalation on the part of Saddam, or if it's just part of his usual kind of saber-rattling in the no-fly zone?

Pace: We've looked at the historical data with regard to how many missiles and antiaircraft weapons have been fired. This is consistent with what's been going on the last several years. It is also consistent that when we are fired on, we are going to take action. And as you know, a couple of days ago, there were two different responses: one that destroyed a radar and the other that destroyed two communications facilities. So we are going to continue to fly the missions that we've been given, and we are going to continue to respond if attacked.

Q: General, could you say in the latest raid in Afghanistan who or what that was aimed at, and also, whether in the previous raid, on May 12th, whether you've determined at this point that any al Qaeda or Taliban were captured or killed in that raid?

Pace: The raid that happened overnight west of Kandahar was aimed a Taliban leadership compound. Do not know yet what we have there other than one dead, two wounded and 50-plus who have been detained and are undergoing initial screening.

On the May 12th event, we are still in the process of interviewing those that we have. And as you know, it's a very difficult process, because they don't always tell us exactly who they are. They're not always very forthcoming. So it takes time to be able to get through all the questioning we have to determine whether or not we have, in fact, an innocent civilian, in which case they'll be turned back into the population, or someone who needs to be retained because he's a combatant.

Q: Do you even know at this point whether they're Taliban or al Qaeda among those?

Pace: We do not -- I do not know, and I don't think we know yet.

Q: Mr. Secretary, a question about the briefing we're going to get this afternoon: I know we'll get the details of the investigation. I know you've already been briefed on it. And I just want to ask you --

Rumsfeld: (How do you ?) know all that? (Soft laughter.)

Q: I just want to ask you generally, do you believe -- and without going into any details of what happened -- do you believe that the U.S. commanders made the best decisions they could at the time, given the information they had? Or do you think that, in retrospect, some mistakes were made in that operation?

Rumsfeld: Well, I -- what I'd prefer to do is to respond to that next week, after you've had a chance to hear the briefing and to walk through it, because I think you'll find several things. I think you'll find that the briefing is -- correction -- that the review that was undertaken was a very thorough, well done review. Second: I think you'll be impressed with the heroism of the soldiers and the individuals who were involved in many elements of that battle.

Third, I think what you'll find is, as in most human endeavors, that plans are never executed exactly the way they're developed, nor are budgets, nor are anything that we do when we get up in the morning, as to what my day's going to be. I get a new calendar handed me about every 15 minutes, as some change has been made. And that's because what you do is, you develop a plan, and then you walk out into the real world, and everyone's not arranged exactly the way your plan suggested, and things evolve in ways that are different, whether it's weather or circumstances of other types.

I know a number of the people who were involved in that activity, at the senior level. I visited in the hospital with a number of the individuals who were wounded in the battle. And what I thought I would do -- and that is the military individual who will be here, who will not be identified and will not be speaking on the record; he'll be speaking on background basis -- was to give you a chance to see one of those individuals, the person who conducted the review, who walked over all the real estate involved, and allow him to help you walk through and get calibrated with respect to what is known and what is not knowable and what is speculative. And it is a useful thing to do, and I think it'll be worth your time.

Pace: May I add to that, please, because I have been in a couple of firefights in my lifetime, and I would simply like to point out that it's very difficult, sitting in an air-conditioned environment with good lighting, to fully appreciate all that happens on the battlefield. It's also very difficult, when you're in that battle, to have the exact same vision of what happened as the man next to you, because each person's experience in combat is so drastically different. And it gets more different the more individual weapons are pointed at you as an individual.

So as we go about this -- and I certainly understand your curiosity -- let's not forget that this is a(n) extremely chaotic environment, inside of which individuals do things heroically that normal human beings wouldn't even think about doing, but they look to their left, and they look to their right, and they realize that their fellow soldier, their fellow Marine is depending on them. The fact that a soldier or a Marine may recall something different than the others does not mean that either one of them is wrong. It's just that it is an enormously complex, chaotic environment -- people shooting at you, things going "bang," vision obscured, and there's a lot of things that you don't even know about.

I can recall in great detail my own personal combat experiences, but I will guarantee you that my platoon mates would recall those exact same incidents very differently. And I simply ask you to remember that as you go through your curiosity, as you should, about what really happened there.

Rumsfeld: We'll make this the last question.

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, I'd like to get back to India- Pakistan for a minute. Given this new military relationship with India and the fact that we have troops -- forces in Pakistan, what kind of leverage or influence can you exert, or are you exerting, to de-escalate the tension between those two countries?

Rumsfeld: Needless to say, the United States, and many, many other nations in the world, have a great interest in what's taking place in India and Pakistan. You're quite right, we do have forces in Pakistan and we have large numbers of Americans in both countries. And so it's not just the United States, but it's our friends in Western Europe. And any right-thinking nation is going to -- cannot help but to observe the growing tension that exists between those two countries and pray that they recognize the dangers that they're putting themselves in and their people and their economic circumstance and their political futures. It is a difficult situation.

And -- you used the word "leverage." I'm uncomfortable with it. These are two sovereign nations; they make their own decisions. We have interests and relationships with each, as do many of our friends. And I know the president, and Secretary Powell and others in the administration, as well as in this department, have been working with both Pakistan and India in a variety of different ways to see if there aren't ways that each of them can begin that process of stepping down rather than stepping up.

Have a nice Memorial Day.

Q: Same to you. Have a good weekend.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.


Additional Links

Stay Connected