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27 June 2004

Myers Says NATO'S Rapid Response Force Will Develop Over Time

General explains NRF will be used for a variety of missions

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers says NATO's Rapid Response Force "will develop over time" and will be used for missions ranging from humanitarian assistance to combat.

Myers told reporters in Istanbul, Turkey, June 27 that one of the successful transformation measures for the Alliance will be its ability to organize military forces "that are usable, deployable, and can meet various missions."

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who spoke with Myers in advance of the June 28-29 NATO Summit in Turkey, said the alliance's response force has to be used or "it will atrophy."

He also predicted that NATO would soon take on greater responsibilities in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where it will assume a role for training Iraqi security forces. The number of trained Iraqi security personnel has risen from none to 206,000 in the past year, but the secretary noted that some of them "need to have their training advanced" and many of them need better equipment.

Myers noted that "uniform standards" are needed for the various Iraqi security units. He also said that a small number of NATO forces could be embedded alongside Iraqi forces to carry out mentoring roles.

Rumsfeld participated in a number of bilateral meetings in advance of the summit that included representatives of Turkey, Denmark, Poland, Iraq, the United Kingdom Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and others.

The secretary was asked by reporters to comment on Iran's decision to resume building centrifuges to produce low-enriched uranium. "Well, you've got a country that's on the terrorist list that's making mischief in Afghanistan, making mischief in Iraq, working with Syria to support the Hezbollah terrorism in the Middle East, and now has visibly, publicly defied the United Nation's IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) stipulations," he said, "I guess the question would be why would one be surprised?"

Following is the transcript of Rumsfeld's and Myers' press availability with reporters:

(begin transcript)


United States Department of Defense
DOD News Briefing
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers
Sunday, June 27, 2004

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when you're saying you have a bilat [inaudible], is it the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The last I heard the plane's due in and it's going to have on it the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister. I hope. And I'm going to meet with them. I've already had bilaterals today with the Turkish MOD [Minister of Defense], the Danish MOD, and the Polish MOD. And coming up would be the Iraqi Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, the Secretary General prior to meeting with the President and then with the President, to be followed by Italy, U.K., Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and several other....

Tonight we have the DPC [Defense Planning Committee] and the NACD [North Atlantic Council of Deputies] and then a cocktail event with the Ministers of Defense and the Iraqi Foreign and Defense Ministers, and then a dinner with the Ministers of Defense from probably, I don't know how many countries. It's probably the 26 NATO countries plus some Partnership for Peace nations. So it will be big.

QUESTION: Tonight is the [inaudible]. Isn't the EAPC [European Atlantic Partnership Council] the dinner?

VOICE: No. This is the Ministers of Defense of NATO.

QUESTION: So the Iraqi bilat is going to be right away or tonight?


It's interesting, NATO, I read articles in the press and I hear people talking about the relationships in NATO and I think back to when I came to Washington in the '50s, the Suez crisis; the '60s when France pulled out of NATO; in the Kennedy era the skybolt difficulties across the Atlantic; followed by the Vietnam War which caused great divisions within the Alliance. When I was Ambassador to NATO in the '70s, the Year of Europe with Michele Jeaubert in constant hostility with the United States and others in NATO. Big natural gas pipeline issue with Russia that Germany wanted to do and it caused a big split in NATO. The Pershing II during the Reagan administration; nuclear freeze issues; the Mansfield Amendments. If you think about it the last two years have been amazing in terms of not having those kinds of very serious tensions in the Alliance.

I don't know when in the history of the Alliance we've seen so many successes. If you think about it, we've got the NATO Response Force that's been established. The NATO transformation campaign is forcing more aggressive readiness reporting and certification standards and decisionmaking reforms. We've stood up the CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear] Defense Battalion which is an important accomplishment; created a streamlined command structure thanks to the work of J.D. Crouch [assistant secretary of defense for international security policy]. All of these have been U.S. initiatives, I might add. And moved from I think 20 to 11 headquarters -- dropped out nine. Established the Allied Command Transformation, and we're working on interoperability.

NATO has taken command for the first time in the history of the Alliance of an activity. In this case it was the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. The first time outside of the NATO treaty area and outside of Europe.

We have the Polish leadership and the multinational division in Iraq with NATO helping with force generation. I forget how many NATO countries are involved in Iraq now, but I think it's 11. Preparing to terminate the successful SFOR [Stabilization Force] mission in Bosnia. NATO Headquarters will remain behind to kind of help with defense reform and counterterrorism and the hunt for war criminals, but it marks the end of a long, something like nine-year activity there that has been successfully completed, and a good thing. Continuing to act as a stabilizing force in Kosovo. Continuing with the maritime interdiction activities in Operation Active Endeavor.

We welcomed seven new members into NATO and now at this meeting here in Istanbul we very likely will see NATO reflect its decision to take on additional responsibilities in Afghanistan by expanding out of the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] Kabul area into some of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams [PRT] to the north; and second, assuming a responsibility in Iraq for assisting in training the Iraqi security forces.

So if you put that in that context you get a quite different picture than one might otherwise get. If you think of the whole history, the span, from the '50s on and the enormous tensions that have existed in the Alliance and the fact that within the last two and a half to three years the accomplishments that have been made in many instances at the initiation of the United States, but also I would add through the leadership of [former NATO] Secretary General Robertson and now [current NATO Secretary General] Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as well as the encouragement of so many friends and allies in NATO. I think it's an impressive set of accomplishments and an impressive record for the world's leading military alliance.

That is not, I am sure, a very newsworthy way of characterizing what is taking place, and for that I apologize. It does, however, have the benefit of being the truth.

With that, General Myers and I will sit back, relax, drink our diet colas and be just delighted to respond to anything that might come up.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Turkish Defense Minister has said before that Turkey has no intention of negotiating for the release of the three hostages in Iraq. I wonder if I might ask what your reaction, sir, is to the taking of more hostages and more threats of beheadings? And General Myers, are you all actively trying to rescue these people? What's your reaction?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I'll say what we always say. We're up against a group of people who are terrorists; who are killers; who make it a practice to kill innocent men, women and children; who have increasingly migrated away from attacking hard targets and are concentrating on soft targets, targets that are more vulnerable. It ought not to come as any surprise that there are some very bad people in the world, clusters of extremists, that represent a relatively small minority of the world population, that are engaged in a struggle against the entire rest of the world. That's why this 90-nation coalition is doing what it's doing to try to track down and stop them.

QUESTION: And the threat of beheadings?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: What do you mean threat? They've already beheaded some people. Saddam Hussein beheaded people, took hands off, pulled tongues out and cut them out, heaved people off the tops of buildings. We've seen these types of things in our world previously. It tells you a lot about them and the importance of stopping them, finding them, tracking them down, squeezing down their finances, making it more difficult for them to organize. And to the extent we can capture them and stop them from doing what they're doing.

QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, are you all actively trying to find these people?


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can talk a little bit more about -- two things you mentioned, that NATO [inaudible]. That's going to probably improve shortly. What does it mean in practice in northern Afghanistan how many more troops will be up there? And then for Iraq --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: In northern Afghanistan? Oh, I see.

QUESTION: For the PRTs. What in practice does that mean? And then on NATO, --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: One at a time. On that one, it means that the Secretary General and the NATO nations have announced that they want to expand out of the relatively narrow task of the current ISAF in Kabul and the immediate environs and expand it to include sequentially a number of the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are headed by NATO nations in some cases, in other cases by NATO nations plus some non-NATO nations. That's what it means. It means that we have arrived at the point where the capabilities necessary for NATO to do that have been generated according to General Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander. And I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe we're at that point where that will be announced.

QUESTION: And they'll assume control of existing PRTs or create new ones as well?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Both things are happening. Precisely which ones they will take control of very likely will start in a defined area and then expand from that. But at the moment it will be ones to the north, and for sure one in Kanduz, I know, a German-led PRT.

QUESTION: On NATO training, what in practice does this mean, particularly in regards to what [Army] General [David] Patraeus is already doing now.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Patraeus just arrived about a week ago. We have been training and equipping forces in Iraq for a year plus, and we've gone from zero to 206,000. There is still a lot of work to do. Some of the 206,000 need to have their training advanced. Many of them still need to have equipment improved. The new Iraqi government is making judgments about how it's going to recast those various security forces. The Prime Minister --

If you think of it, you currently have the army, the police, the civil defense corps, the site protection and the border patrol. The new government of Iraq is in the process and has been meeting with our people to explain that what they would like to do would be to accelerate the size of the army and one way they might do that is to chop the civil defense corps into it. Add to their training, add to their capabilities and equipping. So it kind of depends on what the Iraqis decide and what the coalition countries then agree is a portion of the needs that the Iraqis have that can best be fulfilled. The important thing is that NATO is assuming a responsibility to assist in the training and equipping of the Iraqi forces.

What will happen is it will be a partnership. NATO will have, we already have a number of countries in there helping to do these things, but they will then work with the Iraqi chain of command and the new Iraqi government and tasks will be assigned out, and among those people involved will be the U.S. activities, will clearly play a significant role in it.

QUESTION: -- inside Iraq?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: We've been doing it both places, but I think Jaap de Hoop Scheffer just announced today that it will be done both in and out. If you think of it, we've been training some police, for example, in Jordan. But one would have to recognize the overwhelming bulk of the training and equipping will take place in the country.

It's important when you think about this task to not think that you take a recruit, stick him in a training program, and then he comes out and he goes and does it. It just isn't the way it works. These people when they come out have to be fit into a chain of command some place. They have to have a mentoring program so that they have continuing training after they've gotten where they have gotten, and it is a much more sophisticated task than simply putting somebody through school and then shoving them out into the society. He needs to be a part of a unit, he needs to be a mentoring process and in some cases they will be embedded with other types of Iraqi security forces or Coalition security forces.

QUESTION: Are these lessons that you've learned from say the April experience in some of these things you just mentioned, that weren't maybe being done or done as rigorously before?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: They've been done unevenly around the country and in Afghanistan over two and a half years, and I wouldn't say it's a lesson learned. People knew all along that to get a good police officer trained it took eight or 12 weeks, depending on the prior experience. Conscious decisions were made that it was important to recruit people and get people off the street so that they didn't become criminals or go out and get hired by the terrorists. So a lot of policemen were scooped up by our division leaders, recruited, paid, and made policemen and put out on the beat in three or four weeks with the understanding they'd go back and get the extra training later. So I don't know that I'd call it lessons learned as much as we're now in a stage where we've got lots of people, despite the fact over 400 Iraqi security forces have been killed already. We've got folks standing in line for those jobs and that's a good thing. My guess is we'll keep recruiting heavily for the same reason I said, to get them off the streets as well as to get them trained.

QUESTION: You would envision then some embedding on the part of NATO trainers and so on with Iraqi units?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: No. NATO's task would be to help train and equip. Once they're trained and equipped they've got to be then fit into Coalition and more sophisticated Iraqi forces and the embedding would be done like that, I would guess.

QUESTION: With the Coalition forces, is that right? Coalition forces with Iraqi units?

GENERAL MYERS: Probably. Let me just mention one thing on the Secretary's earlier comments. The Interim Iraqi Government has already talked about making sure the standards for the ICDC [Iraqi Civil Defense Corps], which will probably become the Iraqi National Guard, but the standards are even. It's a good thing. They've said, just to reinforce the Secretary's point, we need uniform standards across all these different units. They're going to put a command and control structure over the Iraqi National Guard, the ICDC. They're thinking about it, it's their business, and we'll help.

I don't think you can rule out NATO forces, small numbers perhaps embedding to do the mentoring piece, is what I'm thinking.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: But don't you think they'd be more likely to be NATO Coalition forces as opposed to NATO --

GENERAL MYERS: Yes. Probably. It depends on the unit.

QUESTION: General Myers, you just said the ICDC is likely to become now an Iraqi national guard. Mr. Secretary, you said they were likely to become part of the Army. Are you all looking at this like an [inaudible] structure?


SECRETARY RUMSFELD: He hasn't refined it yet but the Prime Minister's the one that's A, announced it, not us; B, made the decision, not us; and the national guard as I understand it would be part of the army.

GENERAL MYERS: It would be, but not in the sense that our National Guard is. They have different connotations.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: They want to change the name of the civil defense because apparently in Iraq the civil defense corps means fire department. It's kind of demeaning to call these folks that, so they're going to change the name, I believe, and get them more connected to the army and the national guard and have more of a military connotation than a fire department connotation.

QUESTION: Just before I came downstairs I was reading on the computer and a story broke out of Afghanistan where the Taliban have killed I want to say 17, perhaps 18 people who they've found out in the provinces, with voting cards. They killed them because they had voting cards. Does this illustrate or highlight the need to put these NATO forces [inaudible] in --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I haven't seen the article.

QUESTION: It just said the Taliban claimed credit for doing it and did it because they had voting cards.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: There's no question but the extremists are killing targets that represent success. The Taliban never wanted women to vote, let alone go out in the street alone or go to doctors or go to school or do anything. So the idea that a woman would register to vote, it should come as no surprise that the Taliban doesn't like that. That's one of the challenges that the Afghan government has is to find ways so that women can in fact register to vote without getting killed and without being harassed or stopped by either Taliban or people in the country who don't think women ought to participate as the constitution provides for.

The same thing is happening in Iraq and other parts of the world. When people see things that do not fit the model that the extremists see of the world which is going back hundreds and hundreds of years to a totally different role for women, a society that is ruled by their likes in a very strict way, then they're going to try to stop it. If they see progress they try to stop it. We just simply have to recognize that the vast majority of the people in the world aren't going to accept that.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'm just wondering if you might be able to clear up a little confusion about Afghanistan and the PRTs. It's my understanding that NATO had already undertaken the PRT mission, five of them, I think, but had only staffed one. My understanding is the Dutch government just agreed to staff another. I'm wondering if you could clarify how many others are going to be filled.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The way to think of it is this. NATO did make announcement of a political commitment to do that. That has to be followed with practical facts. General Jones then had the task of saying okay, NATO, you've made a political commitment. Now I'm going to go out to the countries and see if we'll live up to this political commitment and over a period of weeks and months he had to get so many C-130s, so many helicopters, so many troops, so many quick response capabilities, so much intelligence assets and what have you, and he has been gathering all that up and tin-cupping the NATO countries and in fact got to the point where he can say whew, we did it.

QUESTION: So that's what --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's what's been happening since the political, and what number that encompasses, let's ask [U.S. Ambassador to NATO] Nick Burns. What very likely will happen is as that capability grows they will add additional PRTs to it and as countries decide to take on additional PRTs they will ask that the NATO umbrella include them.

QUESTION: Another subject, does anyone know how many PRTs there are now?

VOICE: Sixteen total.


VOICE: Existent.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: How many committed? Another five or so?

VOICE: I think there are five more for a total of 21.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Something like that.

QUESTION: And ten of those are U.S., right?

VOICE: I don't know the exact number but I can get it for you.

QUESTION: In other words did you say you had 16 --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You can't say you had, because one gets added periodically, it keeps growing. It started with one. We started doing this at our instance a long time ago, a year and a half ago, to see if it worked, whether it would be a helpful way of extending government influence out into the provinces and giving people a stake in how that thing sorts out, and quite honestly.

QUESTION: Sir, on another topic, the Iranians today announced that they are going to resume the construction of centrifuges for enriching uranium.


QUESTION: For peaceful purposes. But I'm just wondering if you have any comment on that.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, you've got a country that's on the terrorist list that's making mischief in Afghanistan, making mischief in Iraq, working with Syria to support the Hezbollah terrorism in the Middle East, and now has visibly, publicly defied the United Nations IAEA stipulations. I guess the question would be why would one be surprised?

QUESTION: Sir, I'd like to ask you about the rapid response capability being beefed up within NATO. What kind of missions do you see that would be most applicable, and how is it going to be made up? Where would it be based?

GENERAL MYERS: The NATO Response Force will develop over time. This is going to be one of the main ways that NATO transforms itself, gets forces that are usable, deployable, and can meet various missions. I think you'll see it being used for a variety of things, from humanitarian crisis to full-scale conflict. And the nice thing about it is that the force that is asked for every time in the different rotations is tailorable by the military forces depending on the political will of the Alliance to go do what it has to do.

An example would be, and I'm not saying this is going to happen, but an example would be the Olympics in Athens. They need a certain capability the military has. It might be the NATO Response Force would provide those. It certainly wouldn't be the whole Response Force. You don't need a bunch of infantry battalions, but you might need some of the capability -- their chemical, biological, [inaudible] contamination for instance. So it will be tailored for the tasks.

QUESTION: How big would this group be?

GENERAL MYERS: They go on rotations and each one has a list of force requirements. We could get that for you because it will vary a little bit but there's a number we could probably get for you if you want that. It's sort of a kind of capability that it would have. But there are land pieces, there are air pieces, there are naval pieces, special forces pieces and lots of mixed capabilities like I mentioned, the chemical, biological, [inaudible] contamination.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: When we proposed it a year, year and a half ago, the reality is if NATO's a military alliance, a military alliance has no real relevance unless it has the ability to fairly rapidly deploy military capabilities. NATO did not have a NATO Response Force that could do that in a short period of time, effectively, as committed forces that were known in advance, trained and ready and equipped to do a series of tasks that could be, as Dick says, modular, put together, mix and match depending on the crisis. It could range all the way from peaceful humanitarian type of systems up to full-fledged combat.

Countries then had to make commitments, dedicate assets to it. And the first tranche and the second tranche and the third tranche, I believe in six-month pieces?


SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Have been being committed. Now the task is to use it. There's no point in having it if you don't use it.

QUESTION: So it's all up and ready?

GENERAL MYERS: Oh, yes, it's been [inaudible] third, I think --

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: It hasn't been used yet.

GENERAL MYERS: In fact it takes command today, is today here for I think NRF three. There is a command structure that goes with it, there's a certification of the forces, and it's not like they all go hang out in one place. They are forces that are committed by the various alliances.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: And are on a short string, ready to go.

GENERAL MYERS: Ready to go.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: They're supposed to be ready to go.

Now [inaudible] you have to use that. You say where might you do it? Well, one example might you do it is for the Olympics, if there were that kind of a need. Another example, you might do it if it were to be decided that the elections in Afghanistan would benefit from some additional capability so that the kind of thing you're talking about that happens doesn't happen during that period. People who want to disrupt the election are prevented from disrupting the election. That's an example of how it might be --

QUESTION: Host nations do the requesting?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I beg your pardon?

QUESTION: The host nation would do the requesting?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Yeah. You wouldn't go sending them places that --


SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Generally in an environment like that Greece would have to ask or Afghanistan would have to ask. On the other hand, you could have a hostile environment where the host nation didn't do the requesting, where there was an attack on some NATO nation, a capability somewhere in the world.

QUESTION: You were talking this morning about the fact that there are limits currently that national governments put on the use of their military forces, and that's a discussion that's going to be coming up here. We saw it in operation in [inaudible] to some extent. I'm wondering if that is a reason why this force hasn't been -- you're on the third generation -- why this force hasn't been used yet, or is it because you haven't received any requests for its use? And will those limitations affect your ability to use this force?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: On the record, certainly the NATO Response Force would have to have fully understood, fully coordinated rules of engagement. You can't have elements that have one set of rules and elements in a response force that have another set of rules. You'd have to have sorted out national caveats or national differences in those things prior to utilization.

The second thing you have to have is you have, to employ a NATO response force you have to have a consensus in NATO. It operates on consensus. Therefore you would have to have agreement that that use of it would be appropriate.

QUESTION: My question is, because those national caveats exist, is that a reason why the first two generations haven't been used? And how are you going to deal with this question in the future if that's the case?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: NATO is going to have to -- First of all, it's going to have to use its response force or else it will atrophy. Second, you have to sort through those caveats and differences with respect to ROEs [Rules of Engagement] to the extent you're going to end up engaged with those forces.

VOICE: Why don't we shift over to the camera portion.

QUESTION: Can I ask, there have been several airstrikes against Zarqawi safehouses, and yet we've had the kidnappings. It's obviously a very active [inaudible]. Can you sort of lay out what damage you think is done to his network with the airstrikes and sort of what the state of play is now?

GENERAL MYERS: We've picked up a couple of his lieutenants. That's helpful. But we haven't gotten him, the airstrikes have missed. So what I think people need to know is we are working very hard to bring this organization down the best we can. There's a major effort underway to do that.

It sort of reminds me of the conversation we had before we got Saddam Hussein. It's the same sort of thing. We kept saying well, we've almost got him, almost got him. The Secretary said close doesn't count. So --

QUESTION: [Inaudible].

GENERAL MYERS: It doesn't count. But we do have a couple of his lieutenants.

QUESTION: By get them you mean you've captured a couple, you haven't killed them with a bomb.

GENERAL MYERS: Right. We've captured a couple of his lieutenants.

QUESTION: Thanks for your time.

(end transcript)