Secretary Rumsfeld Pentagon Town Hall Meeting
Secretary Rumsfeld Pentagon Town Hall Meeting
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 1 p.m. EST
(Pentagon Town Hall Meeting. Also participating were Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowiz, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers and Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace)
Staff: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome secretary of Defense, the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld; the deputy secretary of Defense, the Honorable Paul Wolfowitz; chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Myers; and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Please be seated. Good morning.
Audience: Good morning.
Rumsfeld: Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate having this opportunity to visit with so many of the men and women who help make this great Department of Defense work.
Over the course of the past couple of years now, we've met here several times for these so-called town hall meetings to bring folks up to date on how we've been working on transforming the department, to give those of us up on the stage an opportunity to hear your thoughts and concerns, and importantly, to thank you for the truly outstanding job that the men and women, uniformed and civilian, are doing for our country.
All of you, along with some 2.6 million active duty, Guard and Reserve forces, and more than 700,000 civilians, are the backbone of America's defense. I want you to know that your hard work and your sacrifice are appreciated by all of us.
In the past, I've come here ready to respond to questions. But today, I've brought along reinforcements, as you can see. (Laughter.) Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dick Myers, and the vice chairman, General Pete Pace. While we work closely together every day, this is really the first time that we've all four appeared at one of these town hall meetings to respond to your questions. It's a bit unusual, but then, it's been an unusual year, and not just because of the global war on terrorism, but because of what we have all accomplished together in a relatively short period of time.
The past 18 to 20 months have marked a turning point for this department. Not only have we conducted a new kind of war, but we have begun an historic transformation of the programs, the process, and indeed, the culture of the Department of Defense. Specifically, we have fashioned a new defense strategy, with a new way of sizing our forces and new ways of balancing risks. We've adopted a new approach to defense planning, something that Paul Wolfowitz has worked hard on, that initiates a capabilities-based approach, as opposed to simply a threat-based approach.
We're now considering the best ways to strengthen our forces to deal with the new capabilities that exist in this 21st century world of ours, rather than simply planning for a relatively narrow range of threat scenarios that could leave us less well prepared to deal with the inevitable surprises our country seems to face.
We've rolled out a new Unified Command Plan with important changes that establish the new Northern Command to better defend the United States and provide military assistance to civil authorities; a Joint Forces Command that focuses on transformation; and a new Strategic Command that merges the Space Command and STRATCOM into a single command responsible, both early warning of and defense against missile attack and long-range conventional attacks. General Myers and Pete Pace have played critical roles in helping to formulate those changes, and General Myers has characterized the changes in the Unified Command Plan as the most significant of his long and distinguished career. They would be happy to elaborate if there are questions on those subjects.
We've adopted a new approach for deterrence that reduces the reliance on offensive nuclear weapons and replaces the old nuclear triad with a new triad that includes both defensive and non-nuclear precision strike capabilities. We've reorganized and revitalized missile defense, free of the constraints of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and we've reorganized the department to better focus on our space activities. We're also forging new relationships with a host of countries across the globe. We've targeted a number of quality-of- life improvements for those who wear the uniform -- pay raises, improved housing through privatization -- and we've focused hard on better stewardship of the taxpayers' dollars. They deserve it, and I'm determined to see that we make still more improvements.
All in all, we've done a great deal for an organization that is known historically as being resistant to change. These changes, however, are vital not just for the success in the global war on terrorism, which, of course, is enormously important, but because they will mean so much to the future defense of our country in the decades ahead. None of these things could have been accomplished without the expertise, the assistance and close cooperation of the military and civilian leadership and all of you. And for that, I am grateful.
Before I introduce General Myers, however, I'd like to introduce a young man who's sitting right here. David Bates is eight years old. Why don't you come up and stand right here and let people take a look at you. (Laughter.) David Bates -- you better stand right over here, or you'll be hidden. There we are. (Soft laughter.) David is here with his mother, and he is the winner of the Weekly Reader contest sponsored by the United States Army and the Pentagon, for his essay, "My American Value," which, as I recall, was on selfless service. Right? And he competed against 14,000 other contestants and won. Congratulations. (Applause.)
And there's a naturally proud mother, Mrs. Bates. (Laughs.)
So with that, I'll ask General Myers to say a few words, and then you folks will have the floor, and we'll all be prepared to respond to your questions. Dick Myers.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I also understand that the young Mr. Bates is the Pentagon mayor for today, so any of you hoping to upgrade your parking spaces -- (laughter, light applause) -- I think I'd approach him here in just a moment, see if you can't do a little better than you do.
Like the secretary, I appreciate everybody taking their time to be part of this forum. I've really got a really simple message for you, and that is just to thank you for the tremendous work over the past months, now going on to over a year.
On September 11th of last year, a year ago, it didn't matter if you were in this building or not. When we were attacked, it was certainly our Pentagon; it was our military; it was your nation, my nation. All of us lost friends in that, and I think all of us have been part of a national determined response to do the right thing.
And so over the last 14 months a lot has been demanded of you, and people know that. There have been a lot of extra hours. I'm well aware of that. Weekends and holiday duty are sort of commonplace. And I know it's not been an easy time, necessarily, for you and your families. But just let me tell you that what you do is so very, very important to the nation and to the senior leadership in this building. Without your efforts, we just couldn't be as successful as we've been on this war on terrorism, or in adapting our military for the challenges of today and the challenges that we're going to face tomorrow.
As we move forward, I'm reminded, you know, of some words that President Lincoln said at the start of the second year of the Civil War. He said, "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty. As our case is new, so must we think anew and act anew."
Today we also face very stormy and difficult times. We face very different challenges, new challenges. Therefore we must think anew, and we must act anew.
If you hear a new idea and someone attempts to discredit it by saying, "You know, we've never done it that way before," you ought to be concerned. Our armed forces have been and will continue to be -- have to do things that they've never done before, as we are today. And as you bring forward these solutions and these ideas, don't be afraid to bring the innovative one forward as well. If there's ever been a time to accept -- where the leadership's willing to accept educated and calculated risk in our efforts, now is the time. The senior leadership is encouraging this. And you all are the smart ones out there that know what we can -- where those fresh ideas are probably going to germinate and then prosper. So bring them forward.
In my travel to see the war fighters around the world, no single unit ever seems to be able to do the job all by itself and do it -- and do it alone. The best tactical solutions are often found when we combine the talents of many different units and many different services. Those operations, the successful ones, are often characterized by a climate of trust and confidence between the senior leadership. We need to learn from them, and we need to continue to improve our joint war fighting. Whether you're a soldier, a sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman, or DOD civilian, this war on terrorism will require great innovation and sacrifice on all our parts over the next several years.
And while it takes courage to fight this kind of war, it also takes great courage to allow someone to go do their duty. I think our families know the risk, and yet they stand proudly as children and husbands and wives and siblings and parents go off into harm's way. So to all the families out there that might just be listening, thank you for your enduring courage, for your sacrifices, and above all, for your patriotism.
Finally, there is nothing more important than winning this war. It's the most important thing we can do for the future of our nation. And each of you plays a very integral part. Your hard work has been appreciated and will be appreciated as we go forward in the future.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Rumsfeld: And now we'd be happy to respond to questions. If you want to direct them to one of the others, you're welcome to do that -- (light laughter) -- the tough ones, particularly. (Light laughter.) If you want to just have a question, then I'll figure out which one of those folks will answer it. So --
Questions? Who's up? Is there someone -- ? Yes, sir.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the Cox Commission chaired by Judge Walter T. Cox, a former member of the U.S. Court of Military Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, has presented to you a series of recommendations to improve the administration of military justice to members of the armed forces. When can members of the U.S. armed forces expect to have these measures implemented to provide them increased protections within the military justice system?
Rumsfeld: (Pause, laughter.) You know, Paul Wolfowitz is a doctor. He's a Ph.D. He probably ought to know the answer to that. (Laughter, applause.) Because I don't! Do you?
Wolfowitz: I'm going to have to admit I don't, either. It was -- we will look -- we'll check on that. Obviously, our general counsel is on top of this one. There is so much that goes on in this department, and it's a way to learn about it.
Myers: I agree. And I haven't seen the recommendations, and so we'll have to look at those. But I would just make the comment that every time the U.S. Military Justice system is reviewed, at whatever level, and usually it's very high levels, it gets very high marks. And if it's contrasted to the civilian justice system, it does as well or better in most instances. So I would just leave that out there -- the reviews that I've read in the past. I haven't read the current view, and will do that.
Wolfowitz: The only reason I stepped up here to answer a question I didn't know the answer to was number one, I had no choice. (Laughs.) (Laughter, applause.) Number two, I thought it might be my only chance to get to say anything at all, so, and I -- (laughter) -- I did want to say very briefly, I feel very privileged, and I think we are all privileged, to be part of this great department at a time when the country needs what we have to offer so badly and one I believe, in fact, we performed so magnificently over the last year.
It's also a special privilege to be able to work with these three gentlemen, who not only bring vision -- vision, I guess, you can get in a lot of universities where I used to work, but the ability to translate vision into practical steps and implement the vision. And one of the things that comes up in almost everything that I hear discussed in our daily roundtables or in briefings is, how is this going to affect the men and women who are on the front lines, and the families who support them? That concern about people really permeates everything that the secretary and General Myers and Pete Pace are thinking about.
And even on, though I can't answer you about the Cox Commission, I can tell you very much when we -- we're looking at the whole question of detainees, and military commissions and how we handle al Qaeda prisoners, foremost in our minds was how this would affect our own administration of military justice, how this would affect our own people if they become prisoners someday and how it affects the kind of training we give to people, because we don't train our military to be jailers. Unfortunately, they're stuck doing that these days, but we're trying to do it in a way that maintains the right ethic and standard for our people and for their treatment in the event that they're captured someday. That's an example of the kind of consideration that comes up all the time.
Thanks for giving me a chance to say something. (Laughter, applause.)
Rumsfeld: Questions? (Pause.)
Q: Here's one.
Rumsfeld: Oh, there you are. Right in the middle. Here comes the mike.
Q: This one's for Pete Pace. (Light laughter.)
Rumsfeld: We may lose Paul and Pete Pace here in about 10, 15 minutes because they're due at a meeting over in the White House. So we'd better get a good question. Give Pete Pace a tough one.
Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, I don't think mine is quite too difficult. We saw a new change with the tuition assistance that just came out, which is now paying a hundred percent for up to a certain number of credits. And for some people that's going to be more helpful; for other people it's going to greatly decrease their ability to continue their education. My question is, what are we doing to try to expand and to improve on the education for the enlisted members of our armed forces? This tuition change to me did not really seem like a positive move to improve the education level of our enlisted troops.
Rumsfeld: How did it reduce it?
Q: It -- there's a cap on the actual credit hour. And if you work it out, it looks to be if you do three credit courses, you're really only going to get four courses for the entire year, which will pay a hundred percent of it up to I think $250 per credit.
Rumsfeld: And that was a change recently?
Q: Just effective October first.
Rumsfeld: Next time I come down here I'm bringing Dr. David Chu. (Light laughter.) That's what I'm going to do.
Pace: Fine with me, sir. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I'm still going to bring you, Pete, though. (Laughter.)
Pace: I don't know anything, either, but what -- what the heck. (Laughter.) I can't answer your direct question about the changes in dollars, but I can tell you this, having been the president of the Marine Corps University a couple years ago, that I do know that the collective leadership of our various military universities are working real hard at making it so that your entire time in service can be used to your benefit to get either an associate level degree or a college B.S. level degree. It's important that we give all of our members, enlisted and officer alike, the opportunity to increase their education.
When I was at the university, specifically within the Marine Corps we were trying to make it so that every Marine who came into service, if they wanted to, could at least get to the associate level -- if not, the baccalaureate level -- by the time they had served 20 years in service. And I know that the services continue to do that. Specifically how this 100 percent increase, from 75 to 100 percent, but apparently the degradation in the number of hours that you can take, will affect the services, I do not know. I will find out, and I'll satisfy myself that we've done the right thing. But I do know the intent is that all of us have the opportunity for continuing education, because in a very selfish way, the better educated all of our armed forces members are, the better the team will be. (Applause.)
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. My name is Dennis Stevens. I work for the United States Air Force in the finance department as a computer specialist.
In light of the ongoing threat and the ongoing military operations, I know that there have been a lot of changes in our building as far as security for the people who come to work here every day. I asked this question last time we were here, and there was some -- maybe some confusion. But I wanted to see if you could tell us all how things are changing around this building to protect the men and women that come here and work every day.
Rumsfeld: Are you the one who asked about whether the subway came in? It turns out I think I was right and you were wrong! (Laughter, applause.) I hope I was right!
Q: The metro doesn't go right under the building, it goes --
Rumsfeld: It stops short now.
Q: -- it goes right next to the East Wing of the building, which is where --
Rumsfeld: Right. I thought I'd been told that by someone smart like Wolfowitz. But -- (laughter).
Q: Yes. It doesn't go right under the building, it goes very close to the building. But in general, the improvements in security for the people who come to work here every day.
Rumsfeld: Well, there have been a great many things that have been done. As you -- visually, you can see there are a good many more people that are in the area around the building, police as well as military people. The subway was one of the things that was taken care of.
As you notice when you drive out in front of the River Entrance, there are policemen out there that stop trucks from transiting under the underpass, which was considered to be a dangerous situation.
From time to time, when we go to different threat levels or when there is a specific indication that there might be a potential threat, we do other things. I'm being a little vague, not simply because I'm not completely knowledgeable about it, but I'm being vague because we purposely don't talk an awful lot about it. What we do is try to do things in an irregular way. I don't mean by "irregular" that they're random, but we do them in a way that varies from time to time. And the purpose of that is because there's a stress level on the force if you maintain everything at the highest alert level. If, on the other hand, you make the changes from time to time, it's difficult for people who might wish us ill to know precisely when a certain capability is or isn't present. And I'm aware of the fact that frequently the press reports that something's moved or something's changed. I would prefer they didn't. But there's lot of things I would prefer in life that don't happen! (Laughter.)
But we are doing things on an irregular basis for that very sensible reason.
You're gutsy to stand right back up again! (Laughter.) I like that!
Questions? (Pause.) We're going to have to change out the audience and get some fresh people in here who have questions. (Laughter.) There they come. All right. There's one.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I just wanted to ask how you felt about the continued movement to decrease headquarters staff sizes. One of the -- I think this predates your transformation efforts, but one of the things that I know has changed in the last 10 years is headquarters staff now deploy, and all the promises of electronic technology that was going to make us more efficient seems to have increased the workload in many cases, rather than making us more effective. Do you have any insight on how we're going to continue reducing headquarters staff without seeming to reduce some of the demands on those staff?
Rumsfeld: Very skillfully is how we're going to try to do it. Let me just take a sentence or two, and then ask Dick Myers to comment.
You're right; the Congress some years ago passed a law that required -- I believe it was a 15 percent reduction in headquarters in some definition that they cast. I personally think it's probably a good idea. Most of the world, with the advances that have taken place in information technology, have been able to reduce the sizes of staffs and increase their tooth-to-tail ratio. How well it will work when we're in a situation like we're in with the global war on terrorism, I think, is something that Dick Myers and Pete Pace have been working on. I'll let Dick make a comment.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Yes, we are discussing with the secretary, almost as we speak, about the next increment of the cut, which is supposed to happen this year, the next 7-1/2 percent. And I think there is an understanding that the headquarters staffs are working very, very hard. Whether you're here in Washington, D.C., or whether you're in a combatant command or a component command somewhere, everybody is working extremely hard. And so we're going to take a look at that with the secretary and see if adjustments are justified and if they're needed.
The other piece of that is, I don't think we've done a very precise job in describing for the senior leadership the difference between the tooth and the tail. It's -- there's a lot of gray area. There's a lot of things that we do that we call "tail" that you can't go to war without. So it turns out that's tooth, and that includes some headquarters. So I don't think those terms that were used when we started thinking about headquarters reductions are quite as useful today as they were in the past. And as we get smarter about that, I think we can make smarter decisions.
But that's -- this is an issue that the secretary's asked us to work, and we'll be working that here in the next couple of months.
Rumsfeld: Question? Yes, sir?
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I have a proposal that would make a lot of people happy, wouldn't cost you a dime, and would benefit the troops. Do you want to hear more?
Rumsfeld: Benefit the what?
Q: Benefit the troops, military forces.
Rumsfeld: I think we better zip up our pockets. It's too good to be true. (Laughter.) Let's hear it.
Q: It wouldn't cost you a dime, sir.
I was heartened by the quote that the chairman used about thinking anew. We have a total force, armed forces, with military and DOD civilians, but yet the DOD civilians don't get to use the PX system. It wouldn't cost you a dime to say, "Let 'em use PX system." (Pause.) (Light applause.)
Rumsfeld: Where's David Chu? (Laughter.) It's never crossed my mind. And I'm kind of a conservative, careful person, so I think I'll take that under advisement and think a bit about it. But one would think that as long as there have been the military and as long as there have been PXs, that if it were as simple as you've suggested, it would have happened before, wouldn't you?
Q: One would think that.
Rumsfeld: One would think. But who knows?
Q: (Off mike) -- think anew.
Rumsfeld: We're thinking anew. All right. We'll have a look at that. (Laughter.)
Dick, do you want to say anything about that, since you're the one who brought up this business about thinking anew? (Laughter.) I learned that from you! (Laughter.)
Myers: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Next question.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, good morning. I'm Mike Mayon with the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. On Friday, Secretary Wolfowitz presented five employers with an award for their contributions to the national defense. I would just ask you if you could underscore the importance of employer support of their guardsmen and reservists who are called to duty.
Rumsfeld: Well, yes, sir. We thank you and we thank the employers all across this country who have been so enormously helpful and cooperative in supporting those individuals who do get called up. My recollection is that we've called something in the neighborhood of 70,000 Guard and Reserve thus far. We've been able to release some of them. We're now down to, I believe it's in the low 50,000 level.
But that means in each of those instances that what those individuals were doing is not being done, and it means that the employers all across the country have to make other arrangements and find ways to patch around and then make arrangements also so that when these individuals leave active service and go back to their homes and go back on an inactive status, that they go back to their old post. And it is a wonderful thing and a great program, and we appreciate, and we recognize it, and we value it, and we thank you.
Question? Yes, sir.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, this topic is homeland security and --
Rumsfeld: Pete Pace.
Q: -- homeland defense.
Rumsfeld: This one's for Pete Pace.
Q: Okay. As Congress is looking at increasing our role, and you mentioned that we're, going through a turnaround phase, the military's role in homeland security has primarily been supportive. How do you feel about the military being used as a "Superman" every time civil authorities need help?
Pace: Well, I'm not quite sure I'd phrase the question that way, but I think there is a role for the U.S. military to play, and I think we need to be very careful, as citizens of the United States, that we craft that role for ourselves inside of our own country properly. A way to get to that I think is to take a look at the capabilities that our country needs for homeland security and to determine what currently exists, both at state, local and national levels, and where the gaps are. And for those gaps that exist, which of those gaps might the U.S. military be able to fulfill short-term until the nation's able to build that capacity for local law enforcement, and which of that might we rightfully continue to provide to the nation because it's unique and we ought not to expend more than we need to, and therefore the military has the capacity, and that should be good enough for the nation.
But I think we need to lay out the entire spectrum of capabilities and fill in those gaps where we can, being very mindful of the fact that we want most of the law enforcement-type activities inside the United States conducted by law enforcement.
Rumsfeld: I agree. And certainly, if we are asked to do an emergency assignment, like the airports when there's no other capability, as General Pace says, it ought to be for a short period of time. We ought to get in, do it, and get out, and get back to doing military assignments and not essentially civilian functions. And that's what we've been pressuring to do, and we've been pretty successful.
Q: Morning, sir. My question is, General Myers mentioned the families that stay at home, and those families make up the American public. And our struggle has been, how do we continue to weigh the balance between keeping the public and the American family informed with operational security, host-nation sensitivities, especially in light of the Internet and email and 24/7 news coverage?
Rumsfeld: Well, it is important that the American people support the activities of this department and of their government, and they can't do that if they don't have a good deal of information on which to make intelligent judgments. And the American people do have a good center of gravity. They are able to receive so much information. As you say, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they're receiving these inputs from the press, from the television and the radio and from other sources. And they take it all in and then kind of drop a plumb line through the center of it and have a sense of what's taking place.
I do not personally think that the problems of maintaining proper security inhibit in any way the flow of information to the American people that they need to have. They do not need to know secrets. They do not need to know things that could put people's life at risk. They do not need to know things that could dry up our sources of information. And the implication that the people have a right to know is important as a basic thought; it is incorrect if it suggests that they ought to know things that could cause the loss of life of men and women in uniform. And they know that. The American people understand that. Let there be no doubt but that they understand that. So I don't see any real conflict between the two.
I continue to be deeply concerned about the inability of the Pentagon to manage classified information in an appropriate way. The leaks that come out of this building and this department and the government generally, I think, are wrong, harmful and should stop.
Question. This one's for Paul Wolfowitz. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Sir, I read an article --
Rumsfeld: Mike. We can hear if you stand up there.
Q: Thank you again. I read an article this last week, sir, where you had an interview and you were discussing the reduced use of -- or potential for reduced use of the Reserve components. I was wondering if that was based on evidence that there is a decrease or decline in public sentiment about utilization of Reserve components in current operations, or if it is actually difficulties with the mobilization process itself.
Wolfowitz: I think we are looking at the Reserve requirements in the context of planning for contingency operations, including in Iraq, trying to look at them very carefully so that we are calling up the people we need but not calling up people we don't need. It's not that we have problems. In fact, I would say one of the things that's remarkable about the way the system has worked over the last year is the uncomplaining way in which reservists have answered a call and served for periods of time that they probably never imagined. But we've got to be able to sustain this war on terrorism over a long period of time. That means sustaining, among other things, our reserve system over a long period of time. And if we call up people for missions that aren't really essential and leave them called up for periods of time that are indefinite, that aren't necessary, we're going to start losing the confidence of the reservists. And that's something we need to hang onto.
Their performance to date has been absolutely magnificent. We couldn't do what we're doing without them. We're going to have to keep using them, and probably using them heavily. But that means that we also shouldn't use them in places where the mission isn't essential; in places where host nations could carry the mission for us; in places where civilians could carry the mission for us. It's a precious resource. We can't just use it as though it's something that comes free.
Rumsfeld: Questions? Yes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Marty Burns from the Marine Corps. My question is about headquarters manpower reduction. We heard a little bit about it earlier, but I believe the secretary of the Navy has mandated that on top of that another 10 percent. In the war on terrorism, prior to it, we certainly, I think, all could understand and agree that we could retrospectively look and find ways we could cut our manpower. But after 9/11, and with the war on terrorism, it seems like we're doing an awful lot more with a lot less, and on top of that, the Navy cutting another 10 percent. How do we, as civilians, who provide the resources here so that the uniform services can go out and fight our battles and keep this country the way it is and great, how do we look at that and see that we're cutting our headquarters strength and how we justify that with all that we're doing now with the war on terrorism?
Rumsfeld: I thought that Dick Myers answered it pretty well. Let me just add a word or two. When I came back to the department after being gone for a few years, 25 to be exact -- (laughter) -- my impression has been that there are a great many people in uniform who are being asked to perform tasks that are not really military tasks, and that for whatever reason, they were available, they were talented, they were able to do things, and people grabbed them and they ended up doing a whole host of things that could every bit as well be done by civilians or by contractors.
Therefore, to the extent we're able to move people in uniform out of assignments that are not necessarily appropriate for people in the military and into assignments that are, we will increase the number of military uniform people available.
Second, to the extent we can move assignments into the civilian side or the contractor side, we relieve that pressure. For example, force protection. We're trying to get the Congress to change the law so that we can use civilians to provide some of the force protection here in the United States so that we do not have to use uniform personnel to the extent we currently do.
I think that there's one other category of things, and that is that there are some things that we're doing that we don't need to do. You're right, if you keep adding new assignments and you don't stop doing something, then you're putting too much stress on the system. The only way to be certain that you've got the right or wrong number of people is to go ahead and add new assignments and then see if there aren't things you can stop doing.
We've got, frankly, a good deal of duplication going on in this building. There are offices in the services that are doing things that are then reviewed at a higher level in the services, they're then reviewed at a higher level in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, then a still higher level. And you've got three or four layers doing exactly the same dagburn thing! And it seems to me that there's too many people sending memos to each other around here, and too many people chopping on every single piece of paper that moves through the place. It takes too long for anything to happen, as far as I'm concerned. I think we ought to -- (interrupted by applause).
All that being said, General Myers is right, and you're right; we do need to be very careful about seeing that we are -- that we do not reduce those levels to a point that we damage our effectiveness from a military standpoint, or we put people into a situation where so much is being asked of them that they would find that they'd go off and do something else in their lives rather than serve in the defense establishment, where we need them badly.
This one's for General Myers, I bet. (Laughter.) Yeah, it is. You may not know it!
Q: I think I'm going to have to change my question, Mr. Secretary! (Laughter.)
Myers: See how I do. Ask it -- (off mike).
Q: This one is more personal, biographical --
Q: -- and I'm afraid it goes to you, Mr. Secretary. You indicated a moment ago that you bring to your office the unique perspective of someone who's held it before, albeit a few years ago. Could you characterize for us some of the other changes that impact on your ability to do your job in this city between then and now?
Rumsfeld: Well, I suppose the two things that leap to mind -- one is the interaction between the Congress and the department has changed dramatically since the 1970s. Back then the -- as I recall, the authorization bill was about 50 or 60 pages. Today it's 900 pages. The degree that the committees of the Congress -- the staffs have blown up by many, many multiples on the congressional committees, with the result being that there are just an enormous number of requirements and inhibitions and restrictions and prohibitions that are imposed on the department. We're up, I think, in the 900 level of reports that we send up there. I don't even know who reads them, but we're killing trees all over the globe. And it's -- they get put into the law and then people just keep doing it. If we just could knock off half of the reports and cut the rest of them in half and use a single color -- (laughter) -- like black and white -- (laughter) -- and then put them on the computer and give them the electrons and let them make the paper, we could save so much time and so much effort.
But the second thing is the interagency process. If you think about it, our government was organized in an earlier period. These departments and agencies the president has practically no ability to change without congressional approval. And the nature of our world in this 21st century is so different that all you can do is about from time to time add a new department. So over my lifetime, I've seen the Department of Housing and Urban Development added and the Department of Transportation added and the Department of HHS added and the Department of Veterans' Affairs added, and now the Department of Homeland Security added. But nothing ever ends. We just keep layering on top.
And that creates problems. It means that it -- what we're -- where these issues, which are not unique to any one department or agency -- they tend to blur into others, and to try get those threads up through the needle head, you end up having a massive coordinating problem, where we -- I just spend hours, hours and hours, over in the White House, in the Situation Room, in interagency meetings. And Dr. Wolfowitz does the same thing, and General Myers, and Pete Pace. They're always in the meetings with me, one of them. And the other's in the meetings with Paul. And it just drains the life out of you after a period of time -- not quite. We still have a lot of life -- (laughter). Those are the two big differences.
The thing that's the same are the people. I mean, the men and women in uniform, and the civilian employees, and the dedication that you find, which is heart-warming. It really is.
Question. This one's for Dick Myers. (Light laughter.) You're a repeat.
You got one over here? Where? I can't see it.
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness! Lieutenant! We'll be back to you. (Laughter.) This is for General Myers.
Q: Sir -- sir, Lieutenant Efemba. I was just wondering, is the Department of Defense, primarily the ground forces, are they making a switch to smaller units, sort of like the Marine Corps, operating at the brigade or even less -- smaller and -- the battalion level so they can react faster to contingencies throughout the world, sir?
Rumsfeld: Was that question -- is the Army -- or --
Q: In the Army -- is the Army in particular, but just the DOD in general --
Myers: Sure. Well, I think that the bigger issue is -- and I think you can answer this yourself -- are we properly -- let's take ourselves back over a year ago to pre-September 11th. Were we properly organized for the task that we've had this last 14 months? And my guess is you'd probably say no, we weren't. And I would submit we still aren't, that we still are not as agile and as flexible as we need to be to take on the kind of adversary that is a thinking, reacting adversary: the global terrorist. And there are things we would like to do that we are inhibited from doing today just because of the way we're organized and equipped and, in some cases, trained. So that's been a lot of the transformational efforts that have, I think, been given a real sense of urgency since a year ago September 11th, or they've been focused on, on making us more able to do those sorts of tasks. And I think that goes to the heart of your question.
So the answer is yes, we're looking at all those things. And I think each of the services is trying to make the changes in their -- the way they organize, train and equip so they're better able -- to include your own service -- better able to do the kinds of things that we need to do in the future. And part of it has to do with that agility and flexibility. And one of my favorite things, of course, is how you tie in all the command and control and the rest of that piece, which we do so unevenly across all the various services. I mean, it's just a -- this really is a dog's breakfast. And I think you'll see in the '04 budget a real attempt to try to bring these threads together in a more coherent way than has ever been done in the past. So that's how I'd address it.
Rumsfeld: We'll take two more questions. Yes, there's one. And then, this will be the second.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: This is for Pete Pace.
Q: -- after the last election, I think a lot of us are excited --
Rumsfeld: Uh-oh. He doesn't do politics. (Laughter, applause.) This one's for Wolfowitz. He does everything.
Q: -- we've been looking at a lot of force restructuring. We see it on the navy side with the new technologies and things like that. I'm just curious, the insight on what the future holds with the results of the last election?
Wolfowitz: We don't do politics on the -- (word inaudible) -- side, either. (Laughs.) We really do it in a bipartisan way. And, you know, it's a kind of amazing thing. Just take the Senate Appropriations Committee, for example. You've got Dan Inouye when the Democrats are in charge, and Ted Stevens when the Republicans are in charge. They're both magnificent. What I actually worry more about is what happens when that generation -- they're among the few World War II veterans left in the Congress -- when they leave.
But, we have -- it is essential, and this isn't just because it's the right thing to say, it is absolutely essential if we're going to do our job going into the future, it's got to be built on a bipartisan basis. We can't have a defense program that's planned out for five or six years in the future that is completely undone every time there's an election. And that's why we work very, very hard with both ranking members and the chairmen of the committees.
We have regular sessions with what we call the Big Four, which will be the chairman and ranking on the House side and on the Senate side of the Armed Services Committee, or the Big Eight, where we add in the chairman and ranking on the appropriations committees. It is one way to try to manage this very unwieldy process of the Congress that the secretary described. But those leaders, people like Murtha and Skelton on the Democratic side, and Lewis and now Duncan Hunter on the Republican side -- it's wonderful, frankly, what great support we have for this department, from all of our relevant committees. And, I think particularly after the record of the last year and the way this department has performed, more people want to be associated with us; it's a success story and it's great.
Rumsfeld: There you are. I need a mike. We'll make this the last question.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I work as a munitions officer for the Army National Guard, and homeland security is a big issue with us as well. Unfortunately, throughout all the services we have, our own looks at acquisition, testing and surveillance. Seems we don't have purple ammunition. It's not colorless. We each do our own ways in each. How can we get together as one set standard?
Rumsfeld: Now that is a Pete Pace question. (Laughter; applause.) Right out of the park! I can just feel it.
Pace: Well, the short answer is, I do not know the specific answer to your question. It's my responsibility to be able to stand here and give you the best answer I can, but because I cannot answer your question specifically, I got to go back and do a little bit of homework. I can tell you that at the ground munitions side of the house, that the Army and Marine Corps, with which I'm both familiar, are on the same sheet of music. So I'm not quite sure what your point is, and I would very much like to get from you what your problems are. The Navy and the Air Force, sharing JDAMS.
So the munitions programs of which I'm aware are in fact purple and can be shared amongst the services. But if its a procurement and how you do business inside the services, then that's something I need an education on. And perhaps I can assist. Can we take 37 seconds to get clarity?
Q: Yes, sir.
Pace: (Inaudible) -- go ahead.
Q: Each one of the services themselves have their own set standards for testing, acquisition, storage. We don't all speak the same language as far as inter-service, beside the Army and the Marine Corps, which do -- we do have a memorandum of agreement between the, you know, the Marine Corps and Army, but the other services, we have to treat each one differently, shipping in munitions; storing munitions; accounting for them on different standards -- Army uses one system; Air Force another. We can't talk to each other effectively, especially on the battlefield. We use different systems. Can't we get to one system? We're a Department of Defense.
Pace: I got it. It's a great question. General Myers has appointed me chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee. That's part of my responsibility. I got it. We'll work on it. Thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: The answer to your question is a little different. The answer is yes. (Laughter.) We certainly ought to be able to get to a single system. (Laughter; applause.)
We owe you an answer on the Cox Commission, and the office of public affairs have an answer to that in -- I almost said 10 days, but what I meant was five working days. How's that? And we also owe you an answer on the PX and commissaries, I guess you --
Myers: (Off mike.)
Q: If I could have that, that'd be great, sir.
Rumsfeld: Yeah. And I just don't know the answer to that.
Wolfowitz: And enlisted tuition.
Rumsfeld: And the enlisted tuition question, which came here. And Torie Clarke in the Public Affairs Office will gather up responses to those questions.
Last, I simply want to say again thanks so much for everything you do for our country. We appreciate it, and we wish you well.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)