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Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism
    #2034606 - 10/23/03 01:46 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

Pentagon downplays Rumsfeld pessimism

By Marianne Brun-Rovet in WashingtonPublished: October 22 2003 19:16 | Last Updated: October 22 2003 19:16

A senior Pentagon official on Wednesday insisted the US military was succeeding in Afghanistan and Iraq despite a private admission from Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, that both rebuilding efforts would be "a long, hard slog".

Larry Di Rita, Mr Rumsfeld's chief of staff, said Mr Rumsfeld's comments - in an internal Pentagon memo published on Wednesday by USA Today - were intended to ask "tough questions" about how best to proceed in the war on terror. It did not paint a bleak picture of Iraqi and Afghan operations, he said.

"It was a memo about the global war on terror, trying to ask the kinds of questions that need to be asked," Mr Di Rita said.

Mr Rumsfeld's memo, dated October 16, sought opinions from senior defence officials about whether the US was winning the "war on terrorism" and whether the Pentagon was too large and too slow to deal with new threats.

"It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog," the memo said.

It also questioned US success against al-Qaeda, saying the Pentagon is having "mixed results" against the terrorist group. "We have put considerable pressure on them - nonetheless, a great many remain at large," it said.

The memo was written even as the administration was embarking on an aggressive public relations campaign to persuade Americans the rebuilding was going well and the US was succeeding in tackling terrorism. Up to 70 countries are attending a two-day international donors' conference that starts in Madrid on Thursday. It aims to raise an estimated $56bn (?48bn) needed for the rebuilding of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Additional reporting by Peter Spiegel in London


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: Zahid]
    #2034607 - 10/23/03 01:46 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

Official: Rumsfeld 'Livid' Over Memo Leak
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

WASHINGTON ? Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) was "livid" Wednesday when he discovered a memo written to top aides made it onto the front page of the nation's largest circulated newspaper, a senior defense official told Fox News.

Rumsfeld appeared calm later in the day when he and a top Pentagon official described the memo as an internal discussion paper, not an insight into the defense secretary's opinion about U.S. success in the global war on terror.

But speaking to reporters Wednesday evening, Rumsfeld was clearly annoyed by the leak.

"If I wanted it published, I would have written it as a press release, which I didn't," Rumsfeld said after a closed-door meeting with senators on Capitol Hill.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers (search) said the memo, which poses more questions than answers, was written to generate ideas on how to begin the secretary's long-term goal of transforming the Defense Department to meet new threats.

"The experts will tell you that if you talk to somebody about change or transformation of anything, they will tell you that the larger an organization and the older an organization, the more difficult it is to change it, and it's not going to happen unles you have a CEO bought into the need for change. So, what you're seeing in this memo, the way we do business, is that our boss is challenging us with a lot of questions on are we changing ourselves to deal with this 21st century threat environment we find ourselves in," Myers said.

The Oct. 16 memo, written to four top aides ? Myers, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith ? was splashed across the front page of Wednesday's USA Today.

"It boggles my mind how a memo to four people ends up on the front page of a newspaper," a senior defense official said.

The memo raised eyebrows not because it appears to contradict the defense secretary's publicly optimistic statements about successes in the war on terror, but because it reveals some of Rumsfeld's concerns about whether the Defense Department has the capacity or will to fight the war.

"Is the U.S. winning or losing the global war on terrorism?" Rumsfeld asked his deputies in the first sentence of the memo.

"Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get?' It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog," he later stated.

Rumsfeld also posed some of his own discussion topics, including, "It is not possible to change [the Department of Defense] fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror, an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere ? one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem."

Rumsfeld wrote that in terms of cost and benefit, the "ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions."

In the memo, the defense secretary asked his lieutenants to come up with thoughts for a future meeting.

Senior officials described the memo as part of Rumsfeld's standard operating procedure, in which he dictates his thoughts throughout the week, puts them for paper, tosses them around and then sends out "snowflakes," memos meant to lay out a host of discussion questions.

Acting Defense Department spokesman Larry DiRita told reporters Wednesday that the memo is an informal writing that merely reflects the secretary's management style, his concerns about the pace and manner of the Pentagon's reorganization and his worry that senior defense officials are not adapting strategy and tactics in the war on terror equal to the adaptations made by the enemy when pressure is exerted on it by the United States.

"It's a constant sense of urgency. It's what he does. He injects urgency, he asks questions and he gets people thinking about things and that's what this memo hopefully will do," said DiRita, describing the memo's tone and content.

Asked to express his opinion on the content and spirit of the memo, another senior defense official said it represents "how things get done around here.

"That's how work is tasked from the [Office of the Secretary of Defense]," the official said. "This is how these memos look. They represent how he thinks. Some ask rhetorical questions, some seek information, some prompt people here to change their focus."

Rumsfeld too described his thought processes and methods.

"I asked questions, I didn't answer questions. I am a question asker, I should be sitting where you're sitting," Rumsfeld joked to reporters.

Privately, defense officials said one of the four officials' staff made photocopies for internal distribution in an attempt to prompt some office-wide thinking.

Officials said they believe the memo may have slipped out from someone on that staff, and the assumption for now is that the leak was "not malicious."

Democrats, however, immediately pounced on the memo as a concession by administration officials that its policies are failing. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Thursday that Rumsfeld is finally having an epiphany and self-doubt is setting in.

"I think Secretary Rumsfeld's comments are an illustration of the concern that they have about the failures of their policy in Iraq so far," added Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. "They acknowledge they have not succeeded to date."

Rumsfeld said that, in fact, the United States has many yardsticks and metrics that have measured U.S. successes, but he is more concerned now with the "macro" picture, particularly the education of young people abroad to become terrorists. In his memo, he asked his aides whether the United States was "capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas (search) [Islamic schools] and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

"How many young people are being taught to go out as suicide bombers and to kill people, that's the question," Rumsfeld told reporters. "How many are there, and how does that inflow of terrorists in the world get reduced so that the number of people getting captured or killed is greater than the ones being produced? There isn't anyone who knows a metric to that ... but elevating that issue I think forces people to think about it in the broadest possible context, which is why I did so."


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: Zahid]
    #2034610 - 10/23/03 01:47 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

After grim Rumsfeld memo, White House supports him
By Dave Moniz and Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON ? The United States has no yardstick for measuring progress in the war on terrorism, has not "yet made truly bold moves" in fighting al-Qaeda and other terror groups, and is in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a memo that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent to top-ranking Defense officials last week.
Rumsfeld discussed various topics including the situation in Iraq and troop morale during a news conference at the Pentagon Tuesday.
By Heesoon Yim, AP

White House press secretary Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush in Australia, reacted by voicing support for Rumsfeld. "That's exactly what a strong and capable secretary of defense like Secretary Rumsfeld should be doing," said McClellan.

"The president has always said it will require thinking differently. It's a different type of war," McClellan said.

Three members of Congress who met with Rumsfeld Wednesday morning said the defense secretary gave them copies of the memo and discussed it with them.

"He's asking the tough questions we all need to be asking," said Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas.

Despite upbeat statements by the Bush administration, the memo to Rumsfeld's top staff reveals significant doubts about progress in the struggle against terrorists. Rumsfeld says that "it is not possible" to transform the Pentagon quickly enough to effectively fight the anti-terror war and that a "new institution" might be necessary to do that. (Related item: Rumsfeld's memo)

The memo, which diverges sharply from Rumsfeld's mostly positive public comments, offers one of the most candid and sobering assessments to date of how top administration officials view the 2-year-old war on terrorism. It suggests that significant work remains and raises a number of probing questions but few detailed proposals.

"Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" Rumsfeld asks in the Oct. 16 memo, which goes on to cite "mixed results" against al-Qaeda, "reasonable progress" tracking down top Iraqis and "somewhat slower progress" in apprehending Taliban leaders. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'? " he wrote.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita declined to comment specifically on the memo, but he said Rumsfeld's style is to "ask penetrating questions" to provoke candid discussion. "He's trying to keep a sense of urgency alive."

Among Rumsfeld's observations in the two-page memo:

? The United States is "just getting started" in fighting the Iraq-based terror group Ansar Al-Islam.

? The war is hugely expensive. "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions."

? Postwar stabilization efforts are very difficult. "It is pretty clear the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."

The memo was sent to Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of Defense for policy.

Rumsfeld asks whether the Defense Department is moving fast enough to adapt to fighting terrorists and whether the United States should create a private foundation to entice radical Islamic schools to a "more moderate course." Rumsfeld says the schools, known as madrassas, may be churning out new terrorists faster than the United States can kill or capture them.

The memo is not a policy statement, but a tool for shaping internal discussion. It highlights a Rumsfeld trait that supporters say is one of his greatest strengths: a willingness to challenge subordinates to constantly reassess problems. The memo prods Rumsfeld's most senior advisers to think in new ways about the war on terrorism at a time when many are preoccupied with the 7-month-old war in Iraq.

In public, the Bush administration has been upbeat in describing the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft has noted that two-thirds of al-Qaeda's leadership has been captured or killed.

Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Jim Drinkard and The Associated Press


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: Zahid]
    #2034613 - 10/23/03 01:48 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

dRumsfeld has been busy.


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: Zahid]
    #2034673 - 10/23/03 02:04 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

Nothing gets out that isnt supposed to. Not something like this.

Look for a new agency or broadening and restructuring of Homeland Security Department. Coming to everywhere soon... Donald Rumsfeld staring as Superman.


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: PsiloKitten]
    #2034818 - 10/23/03 02:51 AM (13 years, 5 days ago)

And now they're patting dRumsfeld on the back because he's 'stressed'. Hehe.. No wonder the West Wing series flopped.


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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: PsiloKitten]
    #2035732 - 10/23/03 12:19 PM (13 years, 4 days ago)

my thoughts exactly.

All I know is The Growery is a place where losers who get banned here go.

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Re: Pentagon Downplays Rumsfeld Pessimism [Re: Zahid]
    #2036798 - 10/23/03 05:59 PM (13 years, 4 days ago)

PsiloKitten, I agree with you that this had to be intentionally leaked.  Maybe not by Rumsfeld himself, but more likely by one of the handful of top officials who it was directed to.  I see a lot of polygraphs in the Pentagon's future. :smile: 
  The more important question is why was this leaked?  Someone was smart enough to know that a lot of people have been questioning the competence of the department of defense.  While I don't agree with the present DoD policies I am happy to see they are not completely dissalussioned as to how well effective these policies have been.  Rumsfeld is aware that things aren't going well and hopefully that is the first step in making some changes.  The DoD is full of ridiculously intelligent people (including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz), I just wish they saw the world in the same way I do. 

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