Pentagon Town Hall Meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld
Pentagon Town Hall Meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Thursday, March 6, 2003 - 10:27 a.m. EST
(Pentagon town hall meeting. Also participating were Dr. David S.C. Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Peter Geren, special assistant to the Secretary of Defense; Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; and Gen. John M. Keane, vice chief of staff, U.S. Army.)
Rumsfeld: Be seated, please. Thank you.
Thank you very much, and thank you also for your service to the country. Thanks to those here and those that may be watching from bases or ships all across the world. We thank the dedicated men and women in uniform for doing so much to help keep our country free and safe.
I also want to welcome the representatives from BENS, the Business Executive for National Security, who are here. We thank you for your interest, your support and your assistance. And needless to say, we welcome the senior officials from the Department of Defense here, the vice chiefs and Dr. David Chu and others who are gathered.
I'm going to make some very brief remarks and then respond to questions, and the tough ones -- (Laughter) -- we'll heave them right down here.
Many of you will recall that on September 7th of 2001, I was here in this room, on September 10th to talk to you and others around the world about the need to see that we engage in a process of transforming the Department of Defense, not just the way we deter and defend, but also the way we conduct our business. We must build a department, I said on that day, where each of the dedicated people here can apply their considerable talents and skills to defend America, where they have the resources, the information and the freedom to perform.
At that time none of us knew that the next day, September 11th, the building would come under attack, the country would, by terrorists, and that we would be engaged in short order in a global war on terrorism, the likes of which the world had not seen.
Since September 11th, the people of the department have performed with courage, talent and devotion. And certainly each of you, military and civilian alike, has played an important role in the success that our country has had thus far, and you will be important and critical in achieving our victory in the period ahead.
When this war on terrorism started, there were some who suggested that we should put our efforts to transform the department on hold, that we really couldn't do both at once. The opposite was true. Indeed, the attacks of September 11th make transforming the department even more urgent, because they have awakened us to a fundamental truth that we have entered a new security environment, possibly the most dangerous the world has known. It's a security environment where new threats can emerge very suddenly, without warning; where adversaries can attack not just on distant battlefield, but they can attack the people of the United States right here in America; where the nexus between terror and terrorist states and weapons of mass destruction means that attacks in this 21st century will be more likely -- very likely more deadly than at any time in modern history.
Notwithstanding the successes that our country has had and our coalition has had -- a giant coalition of some 90 nations in this global war, and the good work that has been done, we are still not yet arranged to deal successfully with this new security environment.
We entered the century really arranged to fight big armies, big navies, and big air forces, and not to fight the shadowy terrorists and terrorist networks that operate with the support and assistance of terrorist states. And that's why we are so focused on transforming the department and the armed services. To win the global war on terror, the armed forces simply have to be more flexible, more agile, so that our forces can respond more quickly.
But the same is true of the men and women who support the forces in the Department of Defense. We also need to be more flexible and more agile. We also need freedom, the freedom to move resources and to shift people, and design and buy new weapons more rapidly so that this great department can in fact respond to the changes in our security environment.
Today we still do not yet have that agility. In an age where terrorists move information at the speed of an e-mail, and money at the speed of a wire transfer, and people at the speed of a commercial jetliner, the Defense Department is still bogged down to too great an extent in the micromanagement and bureaucratic processes of an earlier era.
Consider just a few of the obstacles we face each day. This department spends an average of $42 million an hour, and yet we are not allowed to move $15 million from one account to another without getting permission from four to six committees, which - a process that sometimes takes months.
Think of the fiscal year 2004 defense budget. It was developed by many of the people in this room, from the period probably of March of '02 to December of '02. It was then sent to the Office of Management and Budget for consideration between December of '02 and February of '03, last month, when the president presented it to the Congress. Congress will be considering it from February of '03 probably until October or November of '03; and, as in the past, probably making 10 to 20 percent changes in what was recommended.
DoD will then try to live with what's left during the period between October of '03 to September of '04. That means that at any given time during the fiscal year of that budget it will be between 14 and 30 months old, while we are trying to implement what Congress provides us. And all that is happening in a world that is changing monthly before our eyes. If you think about it, your family budget or a business budget or a department budget is not something that is solid mechanically by rote, because it's more of a plan. It's something that's developed and put out there as a guide, and you need the flexibility to adjust it as you proceed through living through that period that that guide or that budget was designed for. The fact that at any given time that plan if you will is between 14 and 30 months old, and the world is changing so rapidly -- it I think puts into perspective the difficulty of having so many restrictions imposed.
Instead of being streamlined for the fast-paced 21st century, the defense authorization has grown with each passing year. Just consider the changes over my brief career. When I was first elected to Congress in 1962, the defense authorization bill was one page. The last time I was secretary of Defense a quarter of a century ago, the '77 authorization bill had grown to 16 pages. When I came back to the Pentagon for this second tour, the 2001 authorization bill had grown to 534 pages. I can't even imagine what it will look like if I were to come back in 20, 25 -- (Laughter.) -- let's hope it's not a straight-line projection.
Today we have some 320,000 uniformed people doing what are essentially non-military jobs. And yet we are calling up Reserves to help deal with the global war on terror. The department is required to prepare and submit some 26,000 pages of justification, and over 800 required reports to Congress each year -- many of marginal value, I am sure many not read, consuming hundreds of thousands of man hours to develop, and untold number of trees destroyed. Despite 128 acquisition reform studies, we have a system in the Defense Department that since 1975 has doubled the time it takes to produce a new weapons system, in an era when new technologies are arriving in years and months, not decades.
The point is this: We are fighting the first war of the 21st century with a department that was fashioned to meet the challenges of the mid-20th century. We're all working hard to change. In 2001, I talked about some of the things we could do on our own to transform this department -- to eliminate waste and duplication and to demonstrate greater respect for the taxpayers' dollars. And in the past year and a half, we've made really some good progress. We've reduced management headquarters staffs in the department from the Pentagon to every base headquarters by about 11 percent. We have streamlined the acquisition process by getting rid of hundreds of pages of prescriptive rules and regulations, and allowing program managers -- we hope -- to be more innovative, flexible and creative.
By this spring we are schedule dot have a new financial management architecture in place -- at great expense -- so that we can begin dramatically reducing some 1,800 different information systems that we now rely upon. We are improving family housing for the service members. In 2001 when I spoke here, we had already privatized about 10,000 military family houses. And since then we've privatized an additional 18,000, and we expect to reach 102,000 privatized by the end of 2004. So in these and other areas we are making some good progress.
But to truly bring DoD into the 21st century we need legislative help. We are now working with Congress to fashion proposals that will help transform the department: how we move money, how we manage people, how we buy weapons. Final decisions on this package of legislative authorities have not been made. We are currently in discussions with the Office of Management and Budget about them. And we are still in a consultation process trying to make sure that we get it right.
We are looking at proposals to do the following things, among other things, for example: to establish a national security personnel system that would give us greater flexibility in how to handle and manage civilian personnel so that we can attract and retain and improve the performance of our 700,000-plus civilian work force; to begin the process of moving a number of non-military functions that had been thrust on DoD over the years to other more appropriate departments, so DoD can focus on tasks where we really do need to excel defending our country in this dangerous new century; and to establish more flexible rules for the flow of money through the department, giving us the ability to move somewhat larger sums between programs and priorities as we go through the year, so we can respond to urgent needs and changes in our circumstance; to eliminate some of the onerous regulations that make it impossible or unattractive for many small enterprises to do business with the Department of Defense; to expand authority for competitive outsourcing, so we can get military personnel out of non-military tasks and back into the field. There's really no reason, for example, that that the Department of Defense should be in the business of making eyeglasses -- the private sector I suspect makes them better and faster, and possibly even cheaper -- but we are, and these types of things need to change.
Our goal is to gain the freedom that you need to do your jobs. Each of you here is a dedicated public servant, or you wouldn't be here. You've chosen national defense as your vocation, because you love our country, and you probably know better than any the obstacles that each of you face each day and what needs to be done to solve some of the problems and make this department work better.
Of course there will always be resistance to change -- that's not surprising -- change isn't easy. People get comfortable to where they are in life. And this is a big institution. I suppose changing it is like turning a giant ship. It doesn't spin on a dime. It's not a speedboat. It's an important institution, and it's probably good that it takes time. But the ship is turning. I do believe that we are making progress. I can feel the turn. I suspect many of you can as well. And with your help and with the help of Congress, I believe we can do a lot more to make this department more effective and so that it will serve our country even better than it currently does.
So I thank all of you for what you do for our country -- those here and those listening across the globe. We appreciate it. We know that what you do contributes to peace and stability in this world and that it is greatly valued by the American people. We'd be happy to respond to questions. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Where's the man who asked about the subway coming in under the building? (Laughter.) Not here. Okay.
Questions? Questions behind me? Yes? We'll pass a microphone over.
Q: Good morning, sir. My name is Staff Sergeant Jason Spon. I work for the WHS MILPERS Office. Now, with regards to -- there's growing concern in regards to North Korea and their intentions. With us having a war on terrorism and the possibility of Iraq, will we be ready to defend ourselves, let alone wage a war against them at the same time if need be?
Rumsfeld: Yes. (Pause, then laughter.) I -- that question was asked recently at a meeting that General Myers and I were having, and that was his answer, "yes." And the reason I say that is it is a big order, let there be no doubt. But we've spent a great deal of time over the past two years fashioning a new defense strategy and a new force sizing construct. We then had that tested in the tank by the chiefs, and they conducted a table-top -- series of, I guess there were two exercises to look at it and analyze it and make judgements about it as to whether or not we would in fact be able to fulfill that assignment; specifically, be able to wage a major conflict in a theater and occupy a country, and near simultaneously swiftly defeat in another theater, and in addition be capable of conducting a variety of lesser contingencies such as things like Bosnia or Kosovo or what's currently going on in Afghanistan. And the answer was that in any exercise like that or activity like that or analysis you obviously see things that you wish were somewhat better than they are. But in the aggregate I think if you asked any of the gentlemen here who were involved in it they would say that we are well arranged and we feel good about the deterrent and the defensive capability that the United States has.
Question? Yes. If someone has a question back here, you should yell at me. (Laughter.)
Q: Good morning, sir. Ensign Elise Hurley (ph), Atlanta, Georgia. I'd like to hear your comments about your Reserve force, sir.
Rumsfeld: They are terrific. If you think of -- (Applause.). They really are. And I don't say that just because I used to be one. (Applause.) I'm trying to think; I finally retired in the Navy Reserve as a captain back, oh, 15, 18 years ago. And before that I'd been involved in Reserve activities.
But our force depends on the total-force concept. The Guard and the Reserve are an integral part of it. Anyone traveling anywhere in this country or walking around this building or anywhere across the globe, where I visit troops, knows the role that the Reserve and the Guard are playing. And they're essential to our success. They're essential to our security. And they just do a terrific job.
Question? Yes. I'd like a real complicated, technical question for Dr. David Chu. (Laughter.)
Q: Hello, sir. I'm Don Warner. I have a question about our strategic forces. As I read in the paper how B-52s were ordered to Guam and the study that you want to -- that DoD wants to use them more and more in the next 40 years, I read how there are, I think, about 80 bombers left. Are there any plans to bring our old B-52s out of the graveyard back into service to help beef up our forces some? Because I think I last read we've got 200-some bombers, between 52s, B-1s and B-2s.
Rumsfeld: Why don't we get the vice chief of staff of the Air Force, Doc Foglesong, up here? (Laughter/applause.)
Foglesong: I'd like to defer to David Chu for that. (Laughter.) The specific answer to your question is, no, we don't have any. We're sized right now at the right number of bombers, we believe. The B-52s that are out of Davis-Monthan are in no state that we could ever bring them back as a result of our SALT commitments years ago.
So we think we have the right size bomber force now. We are modernizing it. We are keenly aware of the fact that we have to take these older airplanes and bring them up-to-date. And so we've got a pretty comprehensive road map to do that.
Rumsfeld: And if you'd asked about tankers or lift, it would have been a different answer. (Laughter.)
Questions? Yes, way back there.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I was actually out in the hall, you asked for me. Is there an update on subway security, sir? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I had a feeling you'd be here. (Laughter.) I think we're doing just fine down there where the subway comes in. They're making some improvements and they're keeping it out from under the building. And most people who look at the security thing feel pretty good about it. How do you feel about it now?
Q: Thank you. It has improved. I do know that there have been some problems. There was an issue yesterday. But since I take the subway every day, it's something I see every day. And it's not -- it doesn't have the security of, say, the airport, for instance, which is unfortunate, but it would be very difficult to implement that.
Rumsfeld: All right. Who's next? (Laughter.) Yes.
Q: Before you came back to the Pentagon, you were very involved in a project called the Space Commission report. I was wondering about your insights in terms of how it's being implemented. Are you thinking about perhaps having a Space Commission continuation? What are your observations, sir?
Rumsfeld: I haven't given any thought to having another Space Commission, and I feel I'm pretty busy right now. (Laughter.) But we felt good about that commission. There were a lot of very talented people on it, and they produced a report which I believe, Doc, it's safe to say we implemented something like eight- or nine-tenths of it, didn't we?
Foglesong: Yes, sir. Almost all of it was implemented.
Rumsfeld: And the feeling is that the implementation of those recommendations have been beneficial. Are you involved in the space business? How do you feel? Have we moved the ball down the field?
Q: Sir, I think we've got about 80 percent solution, but we've still got more room to move in terms of -- (inaudible) -- sir.
Rumsfeld: Well, you know, now we have someone who technically has that subject, and maybe we ought to think about taking a look at where we are -- and it's been a couple of years -- and give some thought to whether or not we've learned enough that we can make some more progress and finish the 20 percent, although it is a moving target.
Foglesong: We always agreed that we'd circle back; there'd be a period of time here that we'd want to come back with you, as a matter of fact, and circle back on what we have implemented to make sure we get it right. And so it's probably time to circle back and make sure we've implemented the things that we said we wanted to do. And there are a couple of statutory issues that we still have to address as well.
Rumsfeld: Good. Question?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is Tracy Bolo and I work for the general counsel's office of the Air Force. And I appreciate your commitment to the transformation that you want to make to DoD. And there's a request that I have.
I am a member of a graduate student program designed to attract younger people that are willing and interested in government service. And what we've found is, both my colleagues and myself are finding challenges moving out of this program into permanent positions within DoD. And we've found the personnel system to be needing transformation and guidance. (Laughter; applause.)
Some of my colleagues have been targeted for positions and are on the docket for over six months waiting for those permanent positions to be transferred. I personally am involved in the hiring of the new graduate students that we bring on, and it takes me over eight weeks to get their paperwork through the personnel system.
So I guess it's not a question but a request that we look at ways to transform our personnel system so that we can maintain this talent that we're attracting currently.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. David Chu, fix it! (Laughter.) Where's the mike?
Chu: Well, I want to congratulate you that it's only eight weeks. You're below average. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Stand up, David. Let people see you.
Q: That's the minimum.
Chu: That's exactly what we want to try to change. We have a package of legislation that the secretary has gotten the vice president to give us an agreement in principle we can put forward. We're still arguing with various other agencies about of details.
But one of the things we want to address is how fast we hire. In fact, we'd like the power to go where private firms are. At a college job fair, being able to say, "The job's yours." That's a long way from where we are now. We'd like pay banding as our way of paying people, which gives a lot more flexibility on job content to changing your duties as time goes along.
So we're with you. And what we need you to do is to speak up forcefully, when this package gets to the Hill, to say, "This is what we need. This will make us much more effective." That will help us get it through Congress.
Rumsfeld: Thank you, David. Question? Way in the back.
Q: Sir, I have two questions. I have a question for you and I have a question for General Keane. For General Keane, sir, how do you intend on defending America's greatest national shrine, Yankee Stadium? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Say that again. (Laughter.)
Q: Sir, how do you intend on defending Yankee Stadium?
Rumsfeld: From the ground or the air or the sea? (Laughter.)
Q: Sir, it's a national shrine -- all sides.
Rumsfeld: All sides.
Keane: Well, it's well-known, I guess, at the Pentagon that I'm a New York City guy and a big Yankee fan. The truth of the matter is, the Yankees don't need a defense. (Applause.)
Q: And, sir, my second, not quite as important, question -- (Laughter.) -- how does the Department of Defense see its efforts cooperatively with homeland security respective to intelligence-gathering?
Rumsfeld: "Unformed" probably is the way to characterize it at the present time. The department is probably not going to be fully -- Homeland Security is not going to be fully stood up for months. It is in its very early stages.
The Department of Defense had representatives in the process that created it. We have created an Office of Homeland Defense, a civilian office, that would work with the Northern Command, which is also a new activity for the Department of Defense. And we're in the beginning stages of developing the connectors.
The intel piece of it is something that the president addressed very recently when he announced the creation of a --
Rumsfeld: TTIC. What's it stand for?
Staff: Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
Rumsfeld: Center, right. And it's going to be under the agency, as I recall. And we are participants in various ways. And we have recently nominated a person to serve as the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.
And the task of bringing all these things together is something that I would suspect we need to put a great deal of effort behind. But, being realistic, it is not going to happen like that. That center -- I know they're determined to get it going in the next two to three months on a preliminary basis. It probably will not be fully functional at least for a year is my guess.
We feel that the right structures are being put in place, and now it's a matter of getting good people, and those good people working with each other to figure out how we can do the best job for the country.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I'm one of the individuals that Tracy was speaking about earlier, the graduate students. My name is Matthew Soden. I'm pursuing my MBA at George Washington University as well as work for the general counsel's office. And my question is, with all this talk of transformation, what sort of best practices are being looked at in the private sector to help transform the Department of Defense?
Rumsfeld: We have a business advisory group, and they are looking at best practices and benchmarking. And they're attempting to develop metrics, along with others in the department and the controller's ship and elsewhere.
You know, the old military saying is you get what you inspect, not what you expect. Or, to put it differently, in the private sector they say, "What you measure improves." And it's true, because it forces you to have priorities, and it's a wonderful device.
And unless people take those things that they're measuring, that they're going to track, whether it's daily or weekly or monthly, unless they take them and expose themselves by showing others what those things are, they don't improve.
Once you do that, they do improve, because they know that every time the boss comes around the corner he's going to ask somebody, "How is that happening? What's going on? Why isn't it better? Why is it getting worse?" And we see that, for example, in a few things in the department; oh, safety at a naval air station, they always had that as a part of what they were focused on.
But there are other things that each element in this department needs to have, and we need to have those metrics, and they need to be macro-metrics for certain big chunks, but each element of the department needs to have metrics that fit what they're focused on and what their priorities are and how they're going to actually see that we continue to improve and do a better job.
I think that the fact that the metrics aren't finished is unfortunate. What has to be done is you have to get agreement that those are the things that ought to be tracked. And then you have to put them in place, and then you have to calibrate them.
It's kind of like looking at the consumer price index. You have to decide what you want in it, what basket of things is going to be in it, and then you have to be willing to watch it and adjust it over time, and maybe even run a couple of things in parallel so that you begin to understand what is going to give you the very best information you need.
We're working on it. We're not there. And until we do get there and get them out and get them public, we will not get the kind of traction that we really need.
Questions? Yes, sir. We've got this distinguished panel right here that know the answers to everything.
Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is John Fairfield. I'm United States Air Force, retired. And I served 14 years in this building on your staff and on the Air staff, and I deeply appreciate the men and women who continue to serve and support you.
I've seen so many attempts at DoD reform and I've never felt that there's been a congressional effort as serious as the effort that you just mentioned. Do you see any pull from the Congress to really help you achieve the efficiency the department needs? Rumsfeld: I do. I think that what happened on September 11th has really jarred the country, and I think it forces us to recognize that business as usual in this department won't do it.
The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, was down yesterday or the day before for breakfast and spent at least three hours here, was fully briefed, I believe, by Ken Krieg, who is probably here, who's kind of spearheading this activity. And then I had breakfast or lunch with him and we talked some more. He is determined to engage this personally as a project.
In addition -- I guess Powell Moore is not here -- Pete Geren is here. Pete, what would you say the size of the tiger team up on Capitol Hill is?
Geren: We've met with over 60 members of the Congress. We've found enthusiasm for the initiatives. As you know, and you mentioned earlier, it's still in OMB as far as the final forms of it. But we've found tremendous interest and commitment. And I do think, coming out of September 11th, there's a recognition of the importance of this and a commitment to it. And I think we're going to see some enthusiasm on the Hill for it that we haven't seen previously.
Rumsfeld: I haven't been up on the Hill a single time and not had some member of Congress come up to me, as just Jane Harman did; she's from California and she's on the Intel Committee, used to be on the Armed Services Committee. And I saw her the other night and she said, "I want to be helpful on the transformation."
And there's just a terrific group of folks up there that -- a lot of them have served in executive positions before, which is helpful. In other words, there are the former governors. Lamar Alexander said he wants to be helpful. Elizabeth Dole, the new senator from Carolina, said she wanted to be helpful.
There's a very good group that is forming. And as we finish pounding down the final details with the Office of Management & Budget and they have an actual package, then we ought to be able to get the thing really moving.
Yes. Question? Right here with the microphone. Yes, sir.
Q: Sir, Scott Buchanan with Force Transformation. Referring to some of the things you mentioned earlier with the stand-up of NorthCom and the stand-up of the Office of Homeland Defense and the new joint national training capability, that kind of thing, what role do you see us playing in interacting with -- on personnel issues, actually -- in training with homeland security as a new department and with similar missions?
Rumsfeld: It's unclear to me, but there's no question but that Tom Ridge and his folks have already talked to Ed Eberhardt and said he would very much like them to assist and participate in various types of exercises and activities so that the connections will work properly. And I'm sure that that's getting started rather rapidly.
Question, right here. Any more back here?
Q: Sir, Commander Glarros (ph). You mentioned -- I want to bring back the ball to acquisition. In the 1960s, Secretary McNamara, he introduced the (inaudible) to address the then-complex issues of its day and the challenges that that brought forth. It was an industrial tool for an industrial age.
You mentioned inspections and expectations helping drive that train. But really what incentives do you intend to put into place that would reflect the metrics of the information age, such as valuing flexibility? Would it be incapable of assessing uncertainty, such as the marketplace does in real options?
Rumsfeld: Incentives. Are you thinking about carrots or sticks? (Laughter.) No, it is -- the difference between the private sector and government is everything. In the private sector, you are faced every day with the possibility of failing and not existing and ending, terminating, going out of business, bankruptcy -- it's done -- the investment, the effort, all of that. And that focuses the mind. Believe me, it focuses the mind.
Fear focuses the mind. And as the saying goes, it's your enemies that make you strong. And you get out in the marketplace and you simply have to compete or you go under. And you walk down any street, go through any street anywhere, you see stores that were in business for three, four, six, eight, 10, 12 months and they're gone. And that's true of businesses.
Government doesn't. Government doesn't end. It can't fail as such. And absent that incentive -- fear, whatever it is -- we have to find alternatives. We have to find things that help people recognize the need to change. If you don't change -- if the market changes and you don't change to meet that market, you die in the private sector.
If a market changes here, it's perfectly possible to go right on missing the market for a long, long, long time. And what made sense, you know, some period back, and good, smart, motivated people put it in place, doesn't end because good people are still doing it. And yet some things have to stop so that other things can start.
And you're right; you do need incentives. And you need more than just sticks; you need carrots as well. Really, if you take a skipper of a base somewhere in California, he doesn't have any real incentive to treat the taxpayers' money respectfully. He knows if he saves some money at the end of the year, what happens to him? He doesn't get to use it for something else; he loses it. And so it's use it or lose it. Well, no one would behave that way in the private sector.
So what we have to do -- partly metrics help. In other words, people want to do right. They want to do well for the country. They want to be seen as performing efficiently and successfully and responsibly. And that's where metrics come in. We simply have to get those things in each of the elements of this department so that we're -- people can track progress, they can see that what they're doing is -- A, it makes sense, and that it's getting better, and people look at it and say, Good for you -- that's getting better and it's making a difference. And people want to succeed with things like that. We can do that.
Q: I'm Sergeant Slade (ph) from Special Air Missions. Rumors are roaming in Europe that with the current world situation the U.S. is contemplating moving its forces, not only Air Force but Army, out of Germany and France, into countries like Poland or Czech Republic. Is the Department of Defense entertaining these ideas, or is it indeed just a rumor?
Rumsfeld: Umm. What's happened is when I was asked to come in here and look at this department, one of the things the president asked me to look at was how our forces are arranged around the world, and how we feel about that. It's a new century with -- we have a new defense strategy, we have a new force sizing construct. And so what we did was we tried to do it in a logical sequence, and we did the defense strategy in the year 2001 and the force sizing construct and the Quadrennial Defense Review. And we are now almost through the process of looking at our force structure. The vice chief of staff, Pete Pace, is in the process of doing some analysis that he calls "operational availability." And we think that will be a help.
A second thing that's happening that we think will be a help in answering the question is the work that's being done by Joint Forces Command and the Joint Staff on what is called Joint Concepts of Operation. And to the extent we can focus ourselves on the way warfighting actually takes place and have it be less service centric and more joint centric, I think we'll be better off.
As we do these multiple things, we are also doing one other thing, which is going to have an enormous difference, and that is to completely change the contingency planning process for war plans and for contingency plans, and to shorten it and to turn it into an iterative process.
Now, we still have to some extent a leftover force deployment arrangement. We have a lot of forces in Germany because they were there -- it was important that they be there during the Cold War because of the Soviet Union and the possible threat across the North German plain. Obviously that's not the case today.
We still have a lot of forces in Korea arranged very far forward, where it's intrusive in their lives, and where they really aren't very flexible or usable for other things. And here's South Korea with a GDP that's probably 25, 35 times North Korea's, and has all the capability in the world of providing the kind of up-front deterrent that is needed. And we of course have comparative advantages with respect to an air hub or a sea hub and reinforcement. So we are what the new president for Korea, for example, ran and asked that we look at how we might rebalance our relationship and our force structure. So we are -- General LaPorte is engaged in that process, and it's a consultative process with the South Korean government.
And I suspect that what we'll do is we'll end up making some adjustments there. Whether the forces would come home or whether they'd move farther south on the peninsula, or whether they would move to some neighboring area are the kinds of things that are being sorted out.
The same thing is true with our forces in Western Europe. We have had some difficulties, for example, recently in the force flow where we weren't allowed to take forces across Austria by train. There was question about whether we could move them through some other countries. And of course the taxpayers of the United States can't have one military for the United States and another that's only usable when country A, B, C or D allows that we might be willing to use it. So we do have to look at that arrangement. But we do need to do it in a way that we retain a forward deployment of some forces, in a way that we recognize the fact that we do have the ability to move forces fairly rapidly.
The movement of forces from the continental limits of the United States, or the 50 states of the United States, to some other location is generally not where the time is used up. The time tends to be used up in planning, and thinking, and getting ready and that type of thing. So we do have I think with today's speed of communication and transportation the ability to make some adjustments that I hope would be somewhat less stressful on our force, and that we'll still demonstrate to the world that we are engaged in the world, we care about assisting our friends and allies across the globe, and that we are just simply making the kinds of logical adjustments. General Jones in Europe is in the process of thinking that through as well, and I suspect he'll be coming back with some recommendations in the period ahead.
Yes? I'm told this is the last one -- so make it a pistol. (Laughter.) Where's the mike? You have it.
Q: So I'll ask.
Rumsfeld: Seize the moment.
Q: Yes, absolutely. Sir, Mike Flynn with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. I'd like to know your position --
Rumsfeld: How are we doing with the subway? (Laughter.)
Q: No -- I know how we are doing with the subway.
Rumsfeld: All right.
Q: I'd like to know your thoughts, and probably those of Dr. Chu, on the mobilization of first responders away from -- you know, to go abroad, given the growing threat at home. And also, do you think that possibly alignment of forces under NorthCom to respond to threats at home might be an answer to that?
Rumsfeld: I'll start it. We have generally felt that the task of defending America was best performed forward, by preventing things from threatening our country. We now see that terrorists can attack at any time and anyplace, using any technique, and that we have serious vulnerabilities here at home. Therefore, we still have the same assets -- we still have the same forces and arrangements, and the question is how do you best use them.
The type of thing that needs to be done to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States I suppose is, to simplify it, a couple of things. One is to deter things and to be able to deal with them when they happen -- that's here. And the other is to prevent them by going out, as the president said, and finding the terrorists where they are and disrupting those terrorist networks and putting so much pressure on them -- through capturing and interrogation, and canceling bank accounts, and making it difficult to move, and those types of things, which we know have disrupted a number of terrorist threats both here and elsewhere around the world.
It is understandable that some people would look and say, Well, my goodness, if we have threats right here, shouldn't we keep forces right here to protect against those threats? And I guess the answer to that is, isn't it better to deal with those threats elsewhere and stop them to the extent you can, and have a balance as to what you do? So we do need force protection here in the United States, to be sure. And we do need first responders. But we also need the law enforcement and the intelligence gathering that can help stop things here. And we need the pressure that's being put on across the globe to make life more difficult for terrorist states and for terrorist networks.
Chu: Let me just add, I think we recognize that first responder forces -- local, state, national -- are all under stress. And really the solution over time is to expand that community. We are trying to do that on the military side as well as on the civil side as well. I know some of the first responder community would like to be exempted from mobilization. We are considering exemptions on a case-by-case basis. Actually, there have been very few requests like that -- 15 to 20 since September 11th, 2001. I think that community understands that the acceptance of the Reserve position also means an acceptance of a call to duty when the country summons you. And of course had you been put in a key or critical position which would force you out of the Reserves, you are automatically exempt under the law.
Rumsfeld: In closing, let me just say one last word about this word "transformation." It leaves an impression that you start in an untransformed state, and then you transform and become a transformed state. Life isn't like that. Life is dynamic, it's changing, and really it's transforming. It's really more a culture. It's an attitude. It's a willingness to accept the fact that we cannot simply sit glued with what we have.
We have got to look at the world honestly. We have got to be willing to address it. We have got to be bold. We simply have to be willing to innovate and do things differently. And to the extent we need to start new things, we ought to be able to stop some things. If the world has changed that much that we need to do starting some things, then we have to be willing to stop doing some things. And each of you in your jobs know that there are steps that you are required to do that aren't necessary. Is there anyone who doesn't agree with that? (Laughter.)
And what you've got to do is shove those up to your bosses and tell them these aren't needed, and why in the world don't we get with the 21st century?! (Applause.)
Thank you very much.