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Donald Rumsfeld Holds Press Conference

Aired November 21, 2001 - 12:24   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush today, visiting Fort Campbell, Kentucky to talk to the troops there, to congratulate them on the good work they are doing for this country.

Meantime, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has just landed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He will be operating special operations -- special forces there. This is the videotape of his talking with reporters on the plane on the way to Fort Bragg.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Most of the other towns that have changed hands are quite orderly. And people are behaving in a reasonably responsible way.

QUESTION: But these leaders, you say, they do not want anymore troops on the ground. I mean, how do you deal with that?

RUMSFELD: Afghans have never wanted foreign troops on the ground. That is one of the reasons the al Qaeda is not very popular.


RUMSFELD: And that's a perfectly natural attitude in my view. And I think that the -- there are undoubtedly will be differences among the various tribes and the elements within the Northern Alliance as to who ought to be where and who ought to do what and who ought to be in charge of what among themselves, then that is to be expected, that happens in any country when there is this kind of a changeover.


QUESTION: Secretary, is there anything new on have they gotten any of the senior leadership of al Qaeda over the past 24 hours, two or three days?

RUMSFELD: Oh goodness, I'm trying to think. Nothing that I would want to comment on or report on.

There is a fairly continuous stream of information about attacks from the air that are taking place on command and control locations or on convoys that are moving. But beyond that type of thing, and we do not have names on those individuals.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Uzbekistan...

RUMSFELD: Wait a second, let's some others have...

QUESTION: Some people like to talk about centers of gravity, hitting centers of gravity. What was the center of gravity that the military hit that changed the direction of this campaign? What was the key?

RUMSFELD: That's a tough question. And I'm not sure we'll know with any precision for months when people can be interviewed and talked to.

I think one of the critical -- to use a different phrase -- I think one of the critical aspects of this thus far, and it is far from over, let there be no doubt. I mean, this has got a good distance to run. But one of the critical elements is the fact that the Taliban are so repressive and that there was a -- in the Afghan population, the distaste for the repressiveness of the Taliban and the al Qaeda.

I think second, among the Afghan people, there was a dislike for the foreigners, that is to say the al Qaeda and the -- whether it is Pakistanis or Middle Easterners or Chinese or Chechens, whoever comprised the cluster of foreign element that has been really running that country in a major sense. I think there was a distaste for those people and a preference that they not be there.


RUMSFELD: Well, at that -- I think one thing the United States has had, and has going for us, is that it is very clear, we do not intend to occupy Afghanistan. We have no interest in that real estate at all.

We want the Afghan people to have that country. And that aspect of it seems to me, coupled with the humanitarian effort, the willingness to work with the various elements in the country, even though they do not work with each other, the singlemindness on the part of the United States, to deal with the al Qaeda and to replace the Taliban, provided a lot of incentives for the forces to take steps to oppose Taliban and al Qaeda.

You couple that with very effective air support, because of the folks we've had on the ground providing that improved targeting. And then couple that with the fact that the Afghan people, generally, want their lives improved, they are starving, they have been repressed and they want those folks out of there, it seems to me that combination is what's created the advances that have occurred thus far. Now, what will that do to get us the rest of the way towards our goals? It seems to me that remains to be seen. But I am hopeful that same attitude will contribute to people being willing to provide intelligence information as to where these folks are hiding, seeking the rewards that have been put forward by the Department of State. And I think they can -- ought to continue to be helpful.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, about the report -- a question you hear all the time is -- what is an Afghanistan person going to do with $25 million?

RUMSFELD: Well, it is not $25 million necessarily, it is up to. And needless to say, it is an incentive for people to provide intelligence information to assist in hunting down these folks and putting themselves at risk to do it. And what would they do with some portion of that amount of money? Why, the same thing anyone else would.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) One million -- I'm sorry -- but again, that's a lot of money for somebody who exists maybe on $500 a year.

RUMSFELD: Well, my guess is what would happen is some person, some human being, somewhere would have a scrap of information. And they would go to their leader, their -- the tribal chief for that activity. And they then would see what they think about that and then they move that piece of information someplace else. And by the time you are through, the amounts of monies that would be spread would vary depending on the contribution a person actually made. So I do not think that we have to worry about whether or not they will find an incentive.

QUESTION: Who will decide how the money is paid out?

RUMSFELD: The Department of State has that action.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Uzbekistani officials have given permission for AC-130s to go into that country. Have you issued orders to put planes there or in other surrounding countries?

RUMSFELD: We already have some aircrafts in Uzbekistan.

QUESTION: Do we have the AC-130s there?

RUMSFELD: We have not had AC-130s there. It's a matter that has been discussed with the government and I do not know that the government has made any announcements with respect to it.

But in the event that any government decides that they are willing to assist is by allowing various types of aircraft to go into their countries, we then make those decisions, place them where it is most convenient and most effective. And clearly, the range of an AC- 130 is such that it's helpful to have access to all portions of Afghanistan, and not just the south from the standpoint of that particular aircraft. So, needless to say, it would be helpful for us to have AC-130s up north, particularly when you have a situation like Kunduz because that particular weapons system and platform can put out an enormous amount of ordnance and with a great deal of precision without a lot of collateral damage.

QUESTION: How soon do you hope to have AC-130s in Uzbekistan, if they have given permission?

RUMSFELD: See, those are all your assumptions that they've said that and that we've agreed. The way we have done it from the beginning is we always let the countries involved characterize what it is they want to do for us and what it is they are doing for us because we need the maximum amount of help. And so I kind of leave it to countries to make decisions as to whether they want to do things and then what they want to say about them.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything new that's happening now in Afghanistan the U.S. is doing as you are getting closer to getting air bases? Can you tell us anything at all that's new that's happening there?

RUMSFELD: I don't know quite what new means but there are coalition forces, that is to say, countries besides the U.S. that are now functioning in Afghanistan.

We have been incrementally increasing our special forces so that we now have much broader and deeper coverage with the various elements in the north and the south that are opposing Taliban and al Qaeda. In some cases, we have one team and some cases we have more than one special forces team.

We have special operations activities taking place in the country. They vary, they go up and down in terms of intensity. We are doing all kinds of things that I have characterized earlier. We now have Global Hawk, which is a new element and helpful because of the winter weather coming and the difficulties the Predator has. I'm trying to think what -- I do not know quite what you mean by new, but...

QUESTION: Global Hawks flying now over Afghanistan?

RUMSFELD: Either yesterday, today or tomorrow. It's, as you know, still in the research and development and demonstration phase. So it's not going to be flying every day. It is going to have to be managed as a demonstration model.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to be landing soon, so you're going to have to stop talking for a minute.

RUMSFELD: Seat belts.


QUESTION: Do you have anything on the helicopter that had a hard landing (OFF-MIKE).

RUMSFELD: I do. It was a small helicopter. And we had, I believe, a broken arm, a broken leg and a couple of back sprains or strains. And they were lifted out relatively promptly by a C-130.

QUESTION: Thank you.

RUMSFELD: Thank you folks.

QUESTION: Where was that?


WOODRUFF: Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld answering reporters' questions a little while ago -- this is a tape -- answering questions a little while ago on his way to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to watch some special forces in training.




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