INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
US Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld’s Views on Terror War
An IDC Analysis
Delhi, 21 December 2001
an earlier Mediawatch we had reported the US Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld’s plans for a RMA in America’s military strategy helped by
the Pentagon guru Marshal. The radical change in his post cold war
strategy devoid of super-power rivalry, to engage in regional warfare in
distant places has come true in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan
where technology has played a greater role than the concentration of
forces or deployment of ground troops.
also prescribed that the US military should be prepared for 1–1/2
regional wars instead of two and cut down the strength of forces
accordingly, so that resources thus saved could be utilized in techno
a theoretical plane to a real situation, he has helped guide the
increasingly successful war in Afghanistan, being fought on a terrain
where so many nations including the mighty Soviet Union have failed
before. Rumsfeld's daily televised briefings –– and his willingness to
speak his mind –– have helped make him a household name. Last week at
the Pentagon, with al Qaeda forces under direct attack and Osama bin
Laden's whereabouts in question, he sat down with Newsweek’s Washington
Post correspondent Lally Weymouth for an interview.
did you think of the Osama bin Laden videotape?
not inclined to come out with a series of sound bites on the tape. It is
what it is. People can see it and make their own judgments. I already knew
what I thought of the fellow.
do you think he made it?
idea. He was obviously proud of himself. It was clearly not a professional
job. But everyone in the room knew it was being done. They talked about
it. You could see they knew it was being done.
doesn't seem like a smart thing to do.
guess it depends on what your perspective is. There are a lot of things
you and I wouldn't characterize as being smart. When that film was made,
maybe he felt that what he said was important and he wanted people to hear
the war started, did you think it would take longer to get where we are
really was without a timeframe in my head. I knew we had to put enormous
pressure on them and I knew we had to do it in a variety of different
ways. I also knew it wouldn't end with a bang –– that the pressure
would finally push them down and out and they would have to flee in some
way. But I didn't have a time frame in my head that I was testing it
the start of the war, didn't you urge that the bombing be made more
aggressive ––- toward the front lines?
–– Commander [Army Gen] Tom Franks and I –– knew that we needed to
get U.S. forces on the ground with the opposition forces so that they
could provide the coordination with the air strikes. Once Gen Franks was
able to do that, it changed the thing dramatically. We started being much
more effective with the bombing, and that is what enabled the [Afghan]
opposition forces on the ground to move forward. They had been there in
the same position for years.
peacekeepers be deployed within the next 10 days without interfering with
feeling is that you don't get peacekeeping until you get peace. I like to
refer to it as a security force. I don't think it will have to be a
terribly big one. The only place they are talking about having it is in
Kabul, the capital. Most of the other places are relatively calm. There is
still fighting and lawlessness, but that is true in some American cities
you have an exit strategy?
don't think of ourselves as being part of the security force in Kabul. We
know what we want to do and when we have done it, we can go do it
someplace else. What we want to do is to capture or kill the senior
Taliban leadership and see that they are punished. We want to make sure
that the rest of the Taliban are disarmed or have become part of various
other forces –– that they are no longer trying to kill people. With
respect to al Qaeda, we want to capture or kill the senior leadership and
catch and imprison the remainder, so they don't go back to their countries
and terrorize people and reorganize and then start attacking us again.
When those things are accomplished from a military standpoint, we will
have done our job. That doesn't mean that the U.S. has finished the job
because we do have an obligation from the humanitarian standpoint to help
see that the food and medical needs of the people are met. We don't want
Afghanistan a year from now to go back to being a place that harbors
terrorists, so it is in our interest to be attentive to what kind of
government comes along.
Afghanistan, what is next?
President has not made an announcement.
many people in this building think the next target should be Iraq?
are undoubtedly people who have different views on the subject. I give my
advice to the President. What we are doing in Afghanistan is a major
effort. The President has from the outset said that in order to defend our
country, we must go after terrorists wherever they are and countries that
harbor terrorists. That is as much as he has said thus far.
was a report that US military people were spotted in Somalia last week.
Are you preparing for action there?
seen those stories and they are just stories.
you feel confident that bin Laden is in Afghanistan and that he will be
you have the senior people, you don't have them. You have to keep putting
pressure on them, trying to find out where they are, offering rewards for
people to help you find them and some day you will find them –– in
Afghanistan or somewhere else. It's not knowable at this stage. We're
there are tunnels from the caves in Afghanistan into Pakistan.
if bin Laden goes there, what would you do? Would you send US forces and
also work with the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI?
the moment, the Pakistani units on the Pakistan border are regular army.
they actually blocking the Pakistani frontier from Afghans or Taliban who
are attempting to flee?
to. It's very hard. It's so long and so porous and so mountainous and so
rugged. And there are so many passes. And you can walk across or go by
mule or donkey or bribe your way through. On the Afghan side, we have some
forces that are attempting to block some key passes. On the ground, we
have some forces that are attempting to block [people fleeing] at various
key transit points from inside Afghanistan.
are also some US special operations people in the general neighborhood in
case something occurs where they can be helpful. There is no question that
there are a lot of al Qaeda fighters holed up in caves and tunnels [in the
area around Tora Bora].
that mean thousands?
don't know. There's no way to know. They don't do head counts, and the
tunnels and caves are big. But the firepower has been fierce, so there are
certainly hundreds and hundreds of them. I would suspect there may be more
the luxury of [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar's cave incredible?
He had more than one of those compounds. He had several.
President gave notification today [Thursday] that the US will withdraw
from the 1972 ABM Treaty in order to build a missile defense system. Do
you believe, with the US facing so many threats, that such a huge amount
of money should be spent on an anti-ballistic missile shield?
need to recognize that it's unlikely that armies, navies and air forces
are going to attack us because we have such strong ones that we deter
those countries from doing that. Therefore, the asymmetrical threats
–– ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, terrorist attacks,
cyberattacks –– are places they can leverage their capabilities in a
way that gives them an advantage. Therefore, we must find a way to defend
against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, cyberattacks, terrorist
a cruise missile is launched from a ship offshore, then the shield won't
defend against it, will it?
why I said cruise missiles are a worry, also. We need to worry about all
of them. Ballistic missile defense is one thing. Cruise missile defense is
another. Defense against chemical and biological weapons is another. We
have to worry about all those threats.
Sept 11 an enormous intelligence failure not only for US agencies but also
for the foreign services with whom we have friendly relations?
one would wish it had not happened. [But] there are a lot of [other]
things that did not happen because people stopped them.
and possibly since, I don't know. We are vigilant and are constantly
arresting people and interrogating people, and finding out things they
were thinking of doing and stopping them. Terrorists can attack at any
time, at any place, using any technique. And it is not possible to defend
every place at every moment of the day or night against every conceivable
technique of terrorism. The only way you can deal with it is to go after
them and stop them and that is what we are trying to do.
(IDC will soon give an analysis on – After Taliban/Afghanistan What?)