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Rumsfeld Speaks at Fort McNair, D.C.

Aired January 31, 2002 - 13:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And speaking of security, homeland security is topmost on the Pentagon's mind and the Pentagon right now in the process of proposing a $48 billion increase in its budget. Let's go now to some remarks that are being made even as we speak now by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to explain exactly what all that is about.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We need to change not only the capabilities at our disposal, but also how we think about war. All the high-tech weapons in the world will not transform the U.S. armed forces unless we also transform the way we think, the way we train, the way we exercise and the way we fight.

Some believe that with the U.S. in the midst of a dangerous war on terrorism now is not the time to transform our armed forces. I believe that quite the opposite is true; now is precisely the time to make changes. The impetus and the urgency added by the events of September 11 powerfully make the case for action. Every day we're faced with urgent, near-term requirements that create pressure to push the future off the table. But September 11 taught us that the future holds many unknown dangers and that we fail to prepare for them at our peril.

Our challenge is to make certain that as time passes and the shock of what befell us on that day wears off, we do not simply go back to doing things the way we did them before. The war on terrorism is a transformational event that cries out for us to rethink our activities -- each of us to rethink our activities, and put that new thinking into action.

Almost every day in meetings I am confronted by people who come to me with approaches and recommendations and suggestions and requests that reflect a mindset that was exactly the same as before September 11. They understand that September 11 occurred, but the power of this institution to continue what is so great that we all need to be reminded and, indeed, jarred to realize the urgency that exists.

RUMSFELD: I will say this, the Department of Defense, in my judgment, is up to the task, if you just look at what has been accomplished in the last year. In one year, the year 2001, we adopted a new defense strategy; we replaced the decade-old two major regional war construct for troop sizing with a new approach that is considerably more appropriate to our new world; we adopted a new approach to balancing risks -- the near-term war risks, the people risks, the transformation risks and the modernization risks; and we reorganized and revitalized our missile defense research and testing program free of the constraints of the ABM Treaty; we reorganized the department to better focus on space capabilities; through the nuclear posture review, we adopted a new approach to strategic deterrence that increases our security while reducing the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons; and, within a week or so, we will be briefing the president on a new unified command structure.

And all this was accomplished while fighting a war on terrorism. Not a bad start for a department that has a reputation and is often criticized for being incapable of changing and resistant to change.

Of course, as we transform, we must not make the mistake of assuming that our experience in Afghanistan presents us with a model for the next military campaign. Preparing to refight the last war is a mistake repeated throughout much of military history and one we must avoid, and will. But we can glean important lessons from recent experiences that apply to the future. Here are a few that I think are worth considering.

First, wars in the 21st century will increasingly require all elements of national power: economic, diplomatic, financial, legal, law enforcement, intelligence, as well as overt and covert military operation. Clauswitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other means. In this new century, many of those means may not be military.

Second, the ability of forces to communicate and operate seamlessly on the battlefield will be critical to our success. In Afghanistan we saw composite teams of U.S. Special Forces on the ground, working with Navy, Air Force and Marine pilots in the sky to identify targets, communicate targeting information and coordinate the timing of strikes with devastating consequences for the enemy. The change between what we were able to do before U.S. forces, Special Forces were on the ground and after they were on the ground was absolutely dramatic. The lesson of this war is that effectiveness in combat will depend heavily on jointness, how well the difference branches of the military can communicate and coordinate their efforts on the battlefield, and achieving jointness in wartime requires building that jointness in peacetime. We need to train like we fight and fight like we train and, too often, we don't.

Third, our policy in this war of accepting help from any country on any basis that is comfortable for them and allowing them to characterize what it is they're doing to help us instead of our characterizing it for them or our saying that we won't have a country participate unless they can participate in every single respect of this effort is enabling us to maximize both their cooperation and our effectiveness against the enemy.

Fourth, wars can benefit from coalitions of the willing, to be sure, but they should not be fought by committee.

RUMSFELD: The mission must determine the coalition. The coalition must not determine the mission. If it does, the mission will be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, and we can't afford that.

Fifth, defending the U.S. requires prevention, self-defense and sometimes preemption. It is not possible to defend against every conceivable kind of attack in every conceivable location at every minute of the day or night. Defending against terrorism and other emerging 21st-century threats may well require that we take the war to the enemy. The best and in some cases the only defense is a good offense.

Sixth, rule out nothing, including ground forces. The enemy must understand that we will use every means at our disposal to defeat them, and that we are prepared to make what other sacrifices are necessary to achieve victory. To the extent the United States is seen as leaning back, we've weakened the deterrent; we encourage people to engage in acts to our detriment. We need to be leaning forward as a country.

Seventh, getting U.S. special forces on the ground earlier dramatically increased the effectiveness of the air campaign. In Afghanistan, precision-guided bombs from the sky did not achieve their effectiveness until we had boots and eyes on the ground to tell the bombers exactly where to aim.

RUMSFELD: And finally, we need to be straight with the American people. We need to tell them the truth. And when you can't tell them something, we need to tell them we can't tell them something.

The American people understand what we're trying to accomplish, what is needed to get the job done, that it's not easy, and that there will be casualties. And they must know that good news or bad news, we will tell it to them straight. Broad, bipartisan public support must be rooted in a bond of trust of understanding and of common purpose.

There is a great deal we can learn from this first war of the 21st century, but we cannot and must not make the mistake of assuming that terrorism is the only threat. The next threat we face may indeed be from terrorists, but it could also be cyber-war, a traditional state-on-state conflict or something entirely different.

And that's why even as we prosecute this war on terrorism, we must be preparing for the next war. We need to transform our forces for new and unexpected challenges. We must be prepared for surprise, we must learn to live with little or no warning. And as we do so, much will change about our armed forces -- about the way they will think and fight in this new century.

But there are some things that will remain ever the same through the course of this century and beyond. In 1962, during a similar time of upheaval and transformation, as our forces prepared to meet the new challenges of the Cold War, General MacArthur addressed the cadets at West Point and he said, "Through all this welter of change, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win wars."

The mission of the armed forces remained equally fixed today, equally determined and inviolable. But we must recognize that earlier generation did that we will accomplish it only if we have the wisdom and the courage and the will to change.

Our men and women in uniform are doing a truly brilliant job in the war on terrorism. We're grateful to them. We're proud. And the best way we can show our appreciation is to make sure they have the resources, the capabilities and the innovative culture they need not only to win today's war but to deter and if necessary defeat the aggressors we will surely face in the dangerous century ahead.

RUMSFELD: We are truly fortunate to have each of you dedicated, determined, devoted in the service of our great nation. We look across the globe at the young men and women and what they're doing, and no one can go visit them and not come away with just enormous pride and confidence in the armed services of the United States.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much.

Now I've got a treat for you. We're going to answer some questions, or at least respond to questions.

(LAUGHTER)

This is an awful smart group, I know, so I'll answer the ones I know the answers to, and I'll respond to those that I don't. But what I'm going to do is I'm going to ask Tom Franks to come up here and let you heave some questions at him, because he's the expert.

General Franks, do you want to join me up here?

(APPLAUSE)

Now I know you're all shy, and you're afraid to be the first one to ask a question, so I'm going to ask the first question.

General Tom Franks, this country was attacked on 9/11. You began the attack on Afghanistan on October 7. Kabul was captured by the anti-Taliban forces on November 13. What in the world took you so long to get out -- to get out of the quagmire?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Oh, great students, something to be gained by having just heard the question.

I rode up here with the secretary for this session, and en route he was thinking about the date Kabul fell. Not one time, not one word, did the secretary facilitate my transformation from ignorant...

(LAUGHTER)

... to knowing that he was going to do that.

The fact of the matter is that young men and women using a combination of characteristics, factors, thoughts, approaches, the secretary described, takes a little time, took a little time. We were so blessed by the people of other government agencies as well as those of us in defense who put together an effort, not in a hurry, not driven by this town, but thoughtfully engaged by this town, challenged by the strategic leadership, given time to think through the process, to take the risks that were necessarily to be taken with a result that I think speaks for itself.

I am very proud of my association with the people who have done this work. I hope all of you are proud as well.

And for the confines of this audience, I would even make an unannounced and certainly unsolicited comment to our secretary. There are many who will characterize him as a very good secretary of defense.

RUMSFELD: Old is the word I mostly hear.

FRANKS: No sir, I say very good. You say old. I do not say, you said it...

(LAUGHTER)

Many will characterize Secretary Rumsfeld as a very good secretary of defense. I'll stand here as a combatant commander, and tell you I certainly agree with that, but I can also tell you he is a hell of a secretary of war.

(APPLAUSE)

RUMSFELD: Now who's got a tough question for General Franks? He's a tough guy. Right here.

QUESTION: Well I'm not going to try to come up with a tough question for the general, sir. I had one prepared for you. I'm Bob Cyrzinski (ph). I'm a Department of Army Civilian, currently a student here at ICAF.

RUMSFELD: With that name, you're probably from Chicago, too.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Pittsburgh, but we're still in mourning over the Super Bowl.

(LAUGHTER)

RUMSFELD: So's Chicago.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Yes, sir. National missile defense has been a priority for your administration since the first day. The president reaffirmed that priority in the State of the Union address.

How has that priority role and mission changed, if it has, since the events of 9/11?

RUMSFELD: Well, I don't know that it has. If you think about it, when I was in my confirmation hearing, I was asked about the range of things that concerned me and it was really two things: One was our intelligence-gathering capability, given the complexity of the world and the fact that we don't have one or two targets, we've got a great many targets, and the fact that denial and deception is so advanced today in the world that it's a very difficult thing to do to actually have actionable intelligence.

I don't know how many times General Franks and I sat there and worried through the question of actionable intelligence in the past several months, but it was a great many days.

And we talked about the asymmetric threats, and it was never one over the others because it moves along the spectrum. To the extent it's not advantageous to tackle armies, navies and air forces, it becomes quite advantageous to look at areas of weakness, including, obviously, terrorist attacks, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, cyber-attacks, attacks on space assets and communications assets.

So I think that that missile defense issue remains. It's something we were inhibited by the ballistic missile treaty -- the ABM Treaty. In a few months that'll be behind us. We've been not doing tests that would be in violation because our country doesn't violate treaties. The president's now given the six-month notice. At that time we'll be able to actually execute a robust R&D program to seed the best, most cost-effective way to provide defenses that will dissuade people from thinking that they can hold our country and our forces and our friends and allies hostage.

QUESTION: Sir, in regard to the war on terrorism, how do we know when we've won the war? What indicators are you looking for?

RUMSFELD: I'll let you know.

(LAUGHTER)

No, that's not fair.

RUMSFELD: It's a tough question. There will not be a signing ceremony on the USS Missouri, for several reasons.

(LAUGHTER)

The reality is that our goal is to be able to live as free people, and to be able to get up in the morning and go out and know that our children can go to school and they'll come home safely, and that we don't have to carry weapons and hide and live underground and be fearful and acquiesce and give up our freedoms because some other group of people have imposed their will on us.

Now what does that mean? It means that we have to go after the terrorist networks. It means that we have to deal with countries that harbor terrorists. And we're never going to solve every terrorist act. I mean some people in Chicago terrorize their neighbors, but that's not what we're talking about here.

We're talking about global terrorism, and I think we can do an effective job on that problem. I think it'll take a period of years. It's not something that will be quick. It's not something that at the end of that that it'll be over and then you can relax, because there'll always be people who will attempt to -- to work their will against their neighbors and against the United States.

But I think we'll know when we have been successful for the most part in dealing with the most serious global network threats and the countries that are harboring those; that the real concern at the present time is the nexus between terrorist networks and terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction. And let there be no doubt there is that nexus, and it must force people all across this globe to realize that what we're dealing with here is something that is totally different than existed in previous periods. And it poses risks if not thousands of lives but hundreds of thousands of lives when one thinks of the power and lethality of those weapons.

Questions for General Franks?

It better be a good one.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, sir. My question's for you also. I prepare ahead of time. I'm sorry.

In various forums, including testimony to Congress, senior DOD leaders have expressed...

RUMSFELD: Who? What kind of leaders?

RUMSFELD: Senior Department of Defense leaders.

RUMSFELD: Defense leaders?

QUESTION: They've expressed the view that science and technology is indeed critical to transformation. If you agree, do you intend to increase or more importantly stabilize the science and technology budget, and what areas do you think are important to push. And then finally...

RUMSFELD: I can only do one or two at a time.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Obviously...

RUMSFELD: You want me to get my -- yes, the answer to that science and technology is yes. In what areas? Certainly broad areas, because it's impossible to know precisely where you're going to find the greatest opportunities.

I was in the pharmaceutical research and development business for years, and as often as not if you had a serious effort in a specific direction, looking for something, what you found was equally important but different.

RUMSFELD: There's a great deal of serendipity here. And you can go charging off with intelligent people with a lot of money and do a wonderful job on finding something that is more useful for something other than what you thought. So it's not -- you can't have precision in this area.

Now the third question for General Franks.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Well, the last piece of my question is can you stay investing in programs such as, take, for instance, something like hypersonic engines...

RUMSFELD: Hypersonic what?

QUESTION: Hypersonic engines, which would be something that could enable access -- very high-speed engines that would allow you to access space? And really the technology itself is not what's important, but the thought of investing in something that most of here in the room might not benefit from but that would really be a long- term investment of benefit to those that will come after us. And that's the end of my question.

RUMSFELD: Thank you. You know the truth does have a certain virtue. What I do, I am no Mozart and no Einstein. Those folks would go off in a room and figure out something brilliant by themselves. Most of the rest of us what we do we do with other people. And what I do with respect to the Central Command is I sit down with a fellow who knows an awful lot more about it than I do and we go back and forth and discuss it, and I learn a lot and he ends up doing a wonderful job for our country.

And I do the same thing in the area of science and technology. The last thing I would do would be to reach down into those things and micromanage some piece of it. It is not likely I would do that.

And I'm sure that there are people who are involved in these activities listening today, and if I said yes to your question, they might go off and do it.

(LAUGHTER)

Or worse they might go out and not do it. So I'm disinclined to try to pretend I know the answer to your question which I don't.

Now, don't stick your hand up unless it's for General Franks. Yes?

QUESTION: Sir, my question is for General Franks. RUMSFELD: Great.

QUESTION: Sir, how do we maintain a capability to have troops that can ride on horseback and call in air strikes and do all the high-tech things that we need to do in the future, but maintain that tie to the low-tech things that might be of high value in a future conflict when we're concentrating on procuring new weapon systems, new hardware and new technology?

FRANKS: Intellectual malleability. Thought.

(LAUGHTER)

Flexibility. Never denying the possibilities when one considers the human spirit, the spirit of men and women in uniform -- men and women who have served you in the past and will serve you in the future.

What we do is we assure ourselves that we maintain core competencies to represent the capabilities the secretary described in his prepared remarks. There are capabilities that we know we need to have as we move toward tomorrow.

One of the things that we don't want to leave behind as we move toward tomorrow is the ability to think, the ability to adapt, the ability to do things that the Soviet Union was not able to do, and is no more.

FRANKS: Probably the best answer that I can give you, I can tell you that no one taught these brave young men to request leather saddles, oats and that sort of thing. They figured it out. But I can tell you, when they went on the ground, they also had some of the most incredible and highly technologically capable assets with them that this nation is able to produce.

So the combination of their willingness to rise up and exercise their intellectual flexibility and do the right things with saddles and horse riding and that, coupled with some of the best technological capabilities we were able to give them, produced the result I think we've all seen.

Not an entirely satisfactory answer to your question, but I think the practical answer is the answer: What we do is we focus on the capabilities we know we're going to need for the future and then we trust America and these young men and women to be able to fill in the gaps and connect the dots for us.

QUESTION: I'll toss this question up to both of you, sir. You've talked about transformation and the need for quick adaptation in regards to doctrine, force structure and acquisition. However, what I didn't hear were any requirements or suggestions for transforming what many believe to be a key impediment to quick transformation -- or quick adaptation and true transformation, and that's our planning programming and budgeting system.

So I was wondering if you could give us your thoughts on the need for transforming this support system.

(APPLAUSE)

RUMSFELD: I'm not going to give you the particulars, but about 8, 10 weeks ago I had to sit through a meeting with the president of the United States, and these nice folks came in and they started a briefing and they explained exactly what was happening. And they said that it starts with the presidential guidance and then it comes to the secretary of defense guidance and then it goes down to the CINC and then it's worked on and then it proceeds all the way out to the other end and here's what we're presenting today.

And he had a picture of the president and a picture of the secretary of defense up there and I looked at it and I said, "When did the president give that guidance?" And it was 24 months ago; it was another president.

(LAUGHTER)

I said, "When did the secretary of defense give that guidance?"

RUMSFELD: And it was 18 months ago, and it was a different secretary of defense.

And these nice folks they worked their heads off just like beavers, and they produced this thing, and it came out if -- it had nothing to do with today. It had nothing to do with anything that was going on today. And wonderful, dedicated, fine, talented people doing acts, work, effort that was wasteful of their time and a shame. And I felt badly.

These procedures that this department has are so powerful. It's like a train being loaded in San Francisco, a freight train. Car after car is filled the way someone believed it should be done six months ago before 9/11, and then it starts rolling down the track and it comes and it comes and it comes and it arrives in New York City and unloads, and it's nothing anyone needs.

Dov Zakheim, the comptroller, has already collapsed a few pieces of it. These -- the processes, these freight trains that are going down the track, as I said earlier, don't connect. We can perfectly compare all the war risks between North Korea and Iraq and this and that, and it does not connect at all to the people risks. It doesn't connect to the modernization risks. It doesn't connect to the transformation risks. They're all on separate tracks, and there isn't any way to look at these. One's apples; the other's oranges.

Now, what are we going to do about that? Is that what the question was?

(LAUGHTER)

We're going to do everything that is humanly possible. I am absolutely dumbfounded and shocked that it can work the way it works, and wonderful talented people can work their heads off in it, and that we aren't capable of getting them to connect between them and to get them sufficiently fast and sufficiently flexible.

Now if you think of the budgeting process, part of it is the Congress, and part of it's the fact the OMB has to have a crack in it. So if you think of a fiscal year that begins in October 1, the Congress needs from February to October to do the authorizations, to do the appropriations, some portion of that time so you can't mess much with that.

Then you've got the period from when it's announced, February, this February 4, the president's going to announce the budget. We have to get it to OMB sometime before that; for the sake of argument, October, November, in there.

RUMSFELD: That means it has to be started working on -- it was actually the '04 fiscal year budget that will be effective in October of '03.

That's right. It's so long I can't cope with it.

Actually starts, you know years before hand. And the whole early building process ignores so much of what's already happening.

Now, when I was secretary of defense the last time a quarter of a century ago, not many of you were even alive as I look out, the reality was that the acquisition period was about half of what it is today, and the reality also is that technology is advancing about four times as fast as it use to. Now how in the world can we expect to live in a circumstance like that? The only thing wrong with your question is wasn't vicious enough.

QUESTION: Sir, you mentioned asymmetric warfare. No, sir, sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

General Franks, if you'd like to take a crack at it, you're welcome to, sir.

But you mentioned asymmetric warfare, and a big component of that is interconnected systems.

RUMSFELD: It is.

QUESTION: Do you envision with -- that operations in the transformed military of the future will shift emphasis somewhat from kinetic systems to cyber-warfare?

RUMSFELD: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

Why don't we get Pete Pace up here too? I want you to meet the first Marine to ever serve as vice...

(APPLAUSE) QUESTION: Sir, I am Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Fernandez (ph), Chilean army, National War College. Would you elaborate what kind of a threat you perceive in the next future inside of the Western Hemisphere, and what kind of a role...

RUMSFELD: I'm sorry. What kind of threat?

QUESTION: What kind of threat do you perceive in the Western Hemisphere, and what kind of a role for the Western Hemisphere army force do you identify in relation with those threats? Thank you.

RUMSFELD: I think that we ought to expect -- first of all we just had a threat in this hemisphere on September 11. And we saw the use of airplanes as missiles. And it is -- I honestly believe it is more likely to be, in this hemisphere, an asymmetric threat than any other. I think that the reality is that, at least with respect to the United States, we are so heavily dependent on our communications, we're heavily dependent on technologies and they are not all hardened. And that fact has to be attractive to one wishing us ill.

RUMSFELD: And there are certainly ways that people can jam, immobilize, make more difficult and cost us a great deal by using very readily available technologies that we've developed against us. And it's that type of thing that I think in this hemisphere is most likely.

QUESTION: Yes, sir. General Pace, a question for you, sir, is what question would you like me to ask the secretary?

(LAUGHTER)

GENERAL PETER PACE, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: That's easy.

Never let a promising career stand in the way of a good joke. Go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

RUMSFELD: Oh, that's wonderful.

QUESTION: We've just gone through a few days here -- through our crisis decision exercise. We pretended we're in the year 2008 and a number of possible and credible-type threats that we've tried to negotiate both here and in our own hemisphere and around the world, and one of the things that we kept coming back to is that there were a number of agencies we wanted to tap out and reach. And the homeland security folks were ones that were primary on our mind and in recent press events there's been some discussion about CINC Homeland.

Could you speak, Mr. Secretary, either you or the general could speak a little more on what can we expect to see and what the CINC Homeland is going to look like?

PACE: First of all, I think we're doing an excellent job in our own government of teeing up decisions for the decisionmakers in the entire process that leads up to things getting in front of the president or to the principals.

What happens, I believe, after the decision is made is we then go back to our stovepipes in execution, and we have yet to come up with a decent formula inside the United States, in my opinion, of a way to take a decision like "Execute Plan Colombia," for example, in a way that is coordinated and continues to be tied together well in Washington. It gets done, but we have some slop-over because we tend to go back into our stovepipes. With regard to homeland security, one of the potential problems we have right now is that we have the National Security Council and then we have the Homeland Security Council and we have several entities that, for good and sufficient reason, when they were stood up, were brought on-line to do certain things.

PACE: Now we're going to have the CINC of Northern Command have the responsibility for homeland security for the United States, and that will be a third entity that will enter this discussion.

From our standpoint, this individual is going to have to take NORAD and assure that the very, very longstanding close relationship with Canada is maintained and nurtured and taken properly into the future, and to figure out is there a way then to add the air defense, the land and sea defenses? He's going to have to figure out for starters where is the best place to be? Do you want them near the capitol region? Probably. In the capitol region? Maybe not, if homeland security is something that you want to be concerned about with some kind of an attack in and around Washington. And then building the staff, and what types of functions do we want this CINC to be able to perform.

Posse Comitatis. How much do we want our military to actually do or not do inside the United States? Right now, we have folks who are going to be detailed to the borders of the United States in support of other government agencies, and how do we work all that.

So I can't give you a precise answer to that, because we are just in the beginning of understanding the types of capabilities that we need this country to have.

And then who best should perform those functions and provide those capabilities? Should it be the states? Should it be the federal government? And if it's the federal government, should it be FEMA, FBI, the military? We need to make all those determinations.

So whoever this new CINC is going to be come 1 October, he is going to be very busy just figuring out what questions to answer and then determining how to go about answering them.

RUMSFELD: I should add one thing, and that is that when the general says some forces are going to be assigned to the borders, it's going to be for a brief period. We already have an exit strategy.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: As you were speaking, I was thinking about our open society and the freedoms that exist therein, and certainly the picture that you paint for threats of the future suggest that some of those freedoms will have to be at least relooked at by the American people in terms of how we conduct our day-to-day lives. If you could, from your perspective, what areas do you see as areas that we will probably have to compromise in terms of our -- the freedoms that we've enjoyed in the past?

And secondly do you get the impression that -- from your experience, that the American people have the stomach to deal with making those kinds of changes?

RUMSFELD: That's a tough question, and I guess my short answer is that there -- I have so much confidence in the American people, I don't doubt for a minute but that we're going to be able to live in this world, and I do think we're going to be able to live in this world without giving up an awful lot of our freedoms. I think the president put it well when he said that clearly we need to be -- have a heightened sense of awareness, I think was the phrase he used, which is a good phrase.

RUMSFELD: I mean, if you think of those people in the airplane that stopped the man with explosives in his shoes, God bless them. I have not ridden on a commercial plane since September 11, but I can't believe anything other than that everyone riding on those planes is sensitive to those issues. And that's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. I think that -- I mean, goodness, the Super Bowl's going to go on. People go out and they do their things.

On the other hand, we're realistic. We're spending a lot of money and we're spending a lot of time trying to make sure that we take reasonable steps to protect our nuclear power plants, to have some combat air patrols in the air to be available and some planes on strip alert. We're doing things with respect to borders and airports that are distinctly different. It takes longer to get on a plane today.

And the trade-off is something that people seem to be able to live with really quite readily, because they understand the risks we face. And people have a pretty good inner-gyroscope that seems to keep them centered I think. I feel pretty good about our future.

QUESTION: This question is for General Franks.

RUMSFELD: God bless you.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Sir, having been in the RCINC (ph) commander and now the CINC and having worked extensively with the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, how do you foresee the Army's portion of the transformation as it affects the reserve component?

FRANKS: My personal view is that the Army's transformation is about right. I will tell you that the wearer of this particular uniform, sort of, belies the work I do and the way I think. It occurred to me the other day that I'm never going to be in the Army again. And so, it may be that this is a little bit of a tough question, but I'll give you an answer to your question from a joint and unified, sort of, perspective.

I think the United States Army has it about right when it recognizes the need for transformation, and I think those of us who wear this uniform would say that it had it about right a couple, three years ago when the Army started to move in this direction.

FRANKS: I don't make a distinction between transformation for active forces and transformation for Army reserve or National Guard forces, because I believe that these represent America's Army forces. And I would say the same thing about our airmen, and I would say the same thing about naval forces and so forth.

I think that there is recognition in the United States Army that transformation is necessary. I think that a lot of energy has gone into that. I think that some of the experience we have gained in Afghanistan provides a testament to the validity of the approach. I think the Army, given its own head, would probably accelerate what it's trying to do.

And so long answer to a short question, I'm a believer in the approach.

In terms of the prioritization of equipping and the transformation of the structures of active and which active and reserve component and which reserve component units, I have to leave that to people who are much smarter than I am on that subject.

RUMSFELD: Now on the subject of transformation, I mentioned earlier that we do have a new office of force transformation, and Admiral Zabrowski (ph) is the head of that office, and he's here. I'd like to have him stand up and -- and you'll see the human being who is helping us think through a lot of these things.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: If there's an overriding theme that we've had throughout the year, it is that national security policy making is a delicate balancing act among ends, ways, means, and risks and ranking priorities, if you could only choose one or two, what would your priorities be?

RUMSFELD: One or two priorities?

QUESTION: In terms of transformation, yes, sir? If you had six or seven things you'd like to accomplish, but for whatever reason all six or seven just can't be accomplished, what are your top two and why?

RUMSFELD: That was the vicious question I...

(LAUGHTER)

Why don't we let the expert just tell you?

FRANKS: The most important transformation that we're facing is the transformation from the industrial to the information age. To the extent we do that well all our other efforts and transformation will prosper. To the extent that we don't, all those efforts will be for nought.

(APPLAUSE)

RUMSFELD: General Pace?

PACE: If I could only pick one thing, I would pick mindset. I will tell you categorically that if we change none of our toys and simply change the way we think about how to apply them, we will have transformation on a very, very fast path.

Take, for example, what happened in Afghanistan, and all the things you've heard about.

PACE: The reason that happened was the mindset change of a leadership, of doing things differently, leading forward, as the secretary talked about, and not spoken about here, but very important -- and Tom Franks can nod his head if this is true or not -- the ability of the CINC to have the freedom to make mistakes; to try things -- when you're in the beginning pieces of a new way of doing something, to be able to try and make mistakes and know that you're boss is going to let you make mistakes and pick yourself up and clean yourself off and get back in the game. A huge mindset difference, and I believe the catalyst if we're going to transformation.

RUMSFELD: I'm going to take the admiral's and the general's comments as suggestions.

(LAUGHTER)

And I'm going to give you the answer.

(LAUGHTER)

And the answer is this: I went yesterday with General Myers over to see the president of the United States. And we sat down and I said, "Mr. President, we're going to do an awful lot of things in the next 12 months in the Department of Defense, but there's not a single thing we're going to do that is anywhere near as important as the subject I'm putting before you today." And I went over and laid out the six or eight top posts that are coming open in the next four, five, six, eight months and the kinds of people -- the criteria that I thought were critical, that we look for the very best people for those six or eight top jobs and what the criteria were and how we were going to approach it.

And I said, "When we come in with those recommendations -- and here is some people we're thinking about, I want you to know that and start thinking about this because this is critically important to your presidency and it is going to have more to do with transformation than anything the admiral or the general said."

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in your plans for transformation, do you envision the military health care system staying within the military or moving over to the private sector? RUMSFELD: I don't know. I have trouble believing that we should have, for example, in the Navy such a high percentage of our total force doing medical work. I don't know that I'm right, but I just have a sense that that may be right. Maybe it's because I spent too many years in the private sector, but I do believe there are things that we can find ways to do in the private sector as well or better and as efficiently and possibly as or more cost-effective and be able to focus on some other things.

So I expect that some aspects will migrate that way. The problem I've got is that -- well, I won't get into it. That's a side road and some other time we can talk about it. Questions. Way in the back -- Lady, woman, excuse me.

QUESTION: Yes, sir, your comments on transformation, very important to us as strategic leaders...

HARRIS: All right this time this is not a jump of the gun. We are going to go to President Bush who is about to begin his remarks at Booker T. Washington in Atlanta. He is stepping to the podium, and there he is.

(INTERRUPTED FOR CNN COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)

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