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13 November 2003

U.S. Forces Gearing for Modern Threats, Rumsfeld Says

Defense Secretary's Nov. 13 briefing en route Guam

The United States is adjusting its worldwide military presence to meet modern threats, says Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"We're moving worldwide from a static defense to a different footprint -- a footprint that recognizes that it's not possible today to predict with precision where a threat may come from or exactly what kind of a threat it might be," he told reporters November 13 during a press availability en route to Guam.

"We can reasonably well identify capabilities that are dangerous," the Defense Secretary said. What is needed from the United States and its friends and allies around the world is the agility to deter threats when and where they arise, he said. This, he noted, "requires access to a larger number of locations."

After visiting local officials and U.S. forces on Guam, Rumsfeld will be heading to Japan and South Korea for talks with military and civilian leaders there.

Rumsfeld reiterated the Bush administration's desire to get more troops and humanitarian and financial assistance for Afghanistan and Iraq. "Each country has to do that which they think fits their circumstance," he acknowledged.

Rumsfeld emphasized the U.S. desire to transfer sovereignty and security responsibilities to the Iraqi people "at a pace that they're comfortable with."

He noted that Iraqi ministries have begun to function effectively and oil revenues are coming in. Attacks on coalition forces, he noted, are mostly limited to central Baghdad and the central area.

"The coalition security forces have been adjusting their techniques and tactics and procedures to fit the evolving security situation on the ground," he said.

Following is a transcript of the press availability, as released by the Department of Defense:

(begin transcript)

From the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Media Availability En Route to Guam
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Rumsfeld: I want to just make a comment or two about our trip. If you go back to our Quadrennial Defense Review in our Regional Defense Guidance back in 2001 before September 11, it pointed out the importance of Asia to the United States to our circumstance in the world. Our visit this week is to two important allies -- Japan and Republic of Korea -- also with stops in Okinawa and Guam. Both countries are being helpful in the global war on terror, as well as in Iraq, and I look forward to meeting with the leadership of each country.

An additional reason for the visit is that the United States has, for several years now, been very systematically reviewing our arrangements of the world with various countries, our force deployments and stationings, and have come to some preliminary conclusions that we're now at a stage where we can begin discussing with our allies and with Congress. We don't have final decisions. Obviously these things will be adjusted as we talk to our allies and friends and as we test various ideas about what might make sense with those countries and with the United States Congress. But it's been a big effort for the United States and something, that I believe when it's completed, which will undoubtedly take a period of years to complete, will considerably better position the United States for the 21st century than we have been thus far.

I'd be happy to respond to a few questions.

Q: Mr. Secretary. You obviously planned to take a look at the situation here and perhaps in Okinawa for possible changes. Do you plan to propose to the Japanese and the Koreans the any specific changes, for instance, on the prospect of drawing down the 37,000 troops in Korea?

Rumsfeld: We've had discussions with the Republic of Korea over a period of time and we'll continue those discussions, I'm sure, during this trip, but I wouldn't want to try to preview what might ultimately be decided because we're just not at that stage.

Q: Will you have specific proposals or would you be in the listening mode more?

Rumsfeld: We'll have discussions.

Q: (Inaudible.) -- preliminary conclusions -- will you describe these more?

Rumsfeld: Sure, illustratively you might say theoretically it would be nice to be able to have access to certain locations and there are maybe three places where that might make sense and so you would begin having preliminary discussions with those countries, with neighboring countries, with Congress, and at then some point you develop a little greater conviction and visibility at what's possible, what's desirable. And at some point after these preliminary discussions you might come back with a recommendation.

Q: Do you mean in Asia or the world?

Rumsfeld: I'm talking about the world.

Q: You met with Paul Bremer when he was at the White House. Can you shed us any light on what they've decided to do can you also comment on the CIA report that is out that says that rebel forces in Iraq believe they're going in the right direction to push the U.S. out of there?

Rumsfeld: If that's what they think, they're wrong. I've not read the station chief's report, but that's what a station chief is supposed to do. He's supposed to make reports. And we've received it -- I have it here as a matter of fact to read -- and there are lots of different views, and the various intelligence agencies have been watching the evolving situation and developing conclusions as we've gone along, and it's always helpful and useful to have those things. I believe that Jerry Bremer -- after his meeting this morning -- we had a meeting with the President. He was planning when I left to go out and do a press briefing, and I assume he's done that. And I assume that Larry Di Rita has briefed you on that press briefing.

But I'm going to let Jerry carry the message and the message basically that he'd been visiting with the Governing Council on various ways forward, and there are a number of things that have been evolving in the country. What hasn't evolved is our desire to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people and security responsibilities to the Iraqi people at a pace that they're comfortable with and capable of absorbing those responsibilities for themselves. And because of these ideas that Jerry Bremer has been discussing with members of the Governing Council as well as the fact that we've been able to significantly ramp up security forces. We've gone from zero now probably around June 1 up to something like 131,000, that is in excess of the 128,00 U.S. forces that are there, and very soon it will pass the combined U.S. and coalition forces. The other things that have been happening are that we've been meeting our oil quotas, and oil revenues are coming in. We've been able to have the ministries begin to function effectively. On the negative side, there's been an increase in improvised explosive devices, and mortar firing, although about 93 percent of all of the incidents are occurring in the central Baghdad and central area. There are isolated incidents to the north, the south, and the west, but for the most part, they're in that discreet area. The coalition security forces have been adjusting their techniques and tactics and procedures to fit the evolving security situation on the ground. And Jerry Bremer very likely will go back, having had consultations with the National Security Council and the President, and continue the process of talking to the Governing Council about various ways forward.

Q: Are you yourself impatient with the progress?

Rumsfeld: Why don't we let some others get in a question two?

Q: They're building nuclear weapons; they have nuclear weapons; they have missiles; they have conventional forces. You're going to basically the last front line in the Cold War. How do you see the threat from North Korea?

Rumsfeld: My understanding is that the process is going to go forward where the President has put it on a diplomatic track. They've had, I believe, one six-power meeting. I suspect there will be another six-power meeting as we go forward, and we'll see what it produces.

Q: Are you worried about North Korea? About the threat?

Rumsfeld: I think people have for 50 years. We've had forces and a U.N. presence on the Korean peninsula as a way to deter and defend and assure that the peninsula is a peaceful one.

Q: (Inaudible.) -- efforts in on this trip -- contributions and troops for Iraq?

Rumsfeld: As I said the other day at the foreign press center my pattern on these things is to let the world know what we'd like. We'd like assistance, we'd like troop assistance, we'd like humanitarian assistance, we'd like financial assistance for countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. We want as many countries as possible to participate because we think it's good for them. It's good for peace in Iraq. It's good for the 23 million liberated Iraqi people, and for other countries to have a commitment to them, and certainly we favor that. On the other hand each country has to do that which they think fits their circumstance. They have different financial circumstances, and to the extent where we'll have discussions on those subjects, they'll be private, and to the extent any decision is made, they'll be made by countries other than the United States, which has been my practice since September 11th.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you said that at the end of this process of changing the force posture that you believe the United States will be better positioned for the 21st century. Could you explain a little bit more how it will be and whether these will be the biggest changes in force posture in that region since the end of World War?

Rumsfeld: These will be the biggest -- you mean worldwide?

Q: No, in that region.

Rumsfeld: But forget the region. Deal with it worldwide. Worldwide we ended the Cold War with a concept of static defense. That there were visibly identifiable threats, and that we were a defensive alliance in the world and we had defensive treaties, and we would be in a static defensive position where we would deter and dissuade people from engaging in mischief and adventures, which they should avoid or else pay a penalty for. And it worked. Those days are gone, the Soviet Union is gone. And we're moving worldwide from a static defense to a different footprint -- a footprint that recognizes that it's not possible today to predict with precision where a threat may come from or exactly what kind of a threat it might be. We can reasonably well identify capabilities that are dangerous. And what the United States and our friends and allies around the world have to be prepared to do is, to the extent possible, deter, and if not, defend against those kinds of capabilities that are increasingly available in the world. And that requires much more agility. It requires access to a larger number of locations. It requires less static defense, if you will, and those are the kids of important conceptual changes that we've been involved in with respect to our own forces and with respect to our alliances worldwide.

Q: (Inaudible.) [Incident today in Nasariyah]. Do you think that might deter other nations from wanting to become part of a coalition when what happened to the Italians occurring today?

Rumsfeld: Certainly people need to participate there with their eyes open. I feel, as anyone, my heart goes out to the Italian Carabinierri troops that were killed and their families and friends. I spoke with the Minister of Defense of Italy this morning and talked to him about it. They are very firm in their resolve to continue to participate. There's no question but that Saddam Hussein and Fedayeen Saddam remnants are purposely targeting people in an attempt to get them to leave so that they can take back that country, imposing vicious dictatorial regime -- a regime that goes around cutting off people's hands and heads and tongues and throwing people off the tops of buildings. And it's not going to happen. So each country has to decide what they'll do. It's up to them. They're sovereign nations, and I wish everyone well in making a decision that they'll be proud of. We're proud of our decision.

Q: The United States is working with Japan to develop missile defense, you said so in the foreign press center. And then how about with South Korea?

Rumsfeld: We're available to talk to countries about missile defense. We've made that very clear and to the extent countries are interested in discussing with us, we discuss it with them.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.

(end transcript)