Defense Chief Emphasizes Reviews of Pentagon Policies

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Defense Chief Emphasizes Reviews of Pentagon Policies


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The following are excerpts of yesterday's interview of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld with editors and reporters of The Washington Times.

Mr. Rumsfeld: The president ran for the office of president. He gave a series of speeches allowing us how he thought it would be a good idea if the United States reviewed defense strategy and those postures and the way we are dealing with the men and women in the armed services, and relationships in the post-Cold War world. . . .

[President Bush] asked me when he invited me to become his nominee for secretary of defense to . . . undertake a series of reviews and a serious look at our country's circumstance in the world, and we have been doing that. It's been interesting. We have had a series of six or eight studies that were completed, and became part really of the Quadrennial Defense Review [QDR].

We have been moving through that process because of the time compression that exists, there has been a need to do a rather unusual thing, and that is to gather the Chiefs and on occasion the [theater commanders] and undersecretaries into a room and have us pretty much do it ourselves rather than thinking we can delegate it down and then hope to reconnect it at the top after they come back up. There wasn't enough time for that.

DEFENSE DEADLINES

Q: What's your deadline for getting this to the president, for getting a recommendation to the president?

A: Oh gosh, there are certainly statutory requirements and we'll need them all, I suppose, one way or another. I don't set artificial deadlines but the Quadrennial Defense Review I think has to be reported to the Congress by October 1st, the nuclear posture statement sometime towards the end of the year or January. I intend to do that earlier, finish it earlier. The defense planning guidance has to go out in anticipation of the budget bill and the fiscal guidance has to go out soon and then the budget bill, presumably . . . it will end late in the year and then the president announces the budget in January or so. So all those threads have to come through the needle head pretty darn quick. . . .

Q: We had people telling us that the QDR is becoming driven largely by [budget considerations rather than strategy].

A: That was an argument made for the last [QDR]. . . . I don't think it's

quite possible to say that about this one, except for the fact that if you have the law requiring that this be completed by September 30th, and the fiscal guidance goes out sometime in July or August and the defense planning guidance and the fiscal guidance and then you are working on your budget in September, October, November, it's hard for someone not to be able to say [that] . . . although that doesn't make it so. We have had a number of months where there has not been any kind of a budget drill and there has been a great deal of thought going on. I suppose if someone wants to say that, they can say it, but I doubt if the people involved would say that.

Q: Do you think it's becoming more budget driven?

A: I think life is budget driven. Do I think the work that we have done over the past three or four months is budget driven? Absolutely not. . . .

THE CHINA THREAT

Q: It's been widely reported that there is going to be a shift in focus towards Asia, which means China, and the issue of China obviously has become very important in a sense that people say, don't make China into an enemy, but yet it already appears as if they regard us as their main enemy. . . . You have kind of a reputation as being a realist on China. Could you give us your take on what you think is going on with the [People's Republic of China] today?

A: Well first, go back to [director of the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment] Andy Marshall's paper. You are right. It did discuss Asia, but rather than suggesting an emphasis on Asia and . …

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