Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White
Maj. General Larry Gottardi, Army chief of public affairs (AC PA)
Cols. Stephanie Hoehne and James Allen, Office of the AC PA
Meeting with Pentagon Reporters
The Pentagon
Arlington, Virginia
September 20, 2001

WHITE: Thank you very much for coming. We truly appreciate it.

This was going to be our normal quarterly discussion as of at least through the 10th of September, but the world has changed as we all know, so we can use this to talk about how the world has changed and how the Army is responding to it.

Let me just make a couple of remarks to start out with and then we can get to questions.

I visited New York City yesterday, and I met with Mayor Giuliani who is an incredible leader. I think that we would all agree that the city is extremely fortunate to have a man of his caliber, talent, compassion, and energy in a moment of crisis. So I was fortunate enough to spend some time with he and his emergency preparedness officials to make sure that the support that they were getting from the department was properly aligned. I'm very happy to say, proud to say they're quite pleased with the support we've provided.

I then went down to Ground Zero which is a sobering experience, to say the least. I spoke with the National Guardsmen from the State of New York, the Army Guard that has been there since the early moments of the crisis. They're doing a wonderful job, which again reiterates our point that we keep making, that we're one Army today, that the reserve components are absolutely vital to the Army.

In the past two weeks I've been to Kosovo, Bosnia, stood on the Macedonian border, and in all the places I have been there have been reserve component forces side by side with active. You have to cheat a little bit and look at the patch on the shoulder to figure out whether it's an RC or an AC soldier. The expertise, the discipline, the professionalism is seamless and we're very, very proud of that.

On the home front here at the Pentagon, the recovery operation continues. The support, again, not only from civil authorities principally from the state of Virginia, but also active and reserve component soldiers have been terrific. There were incredible acts of heroism here immediately after the attack or the loss of life would have been greater. There are a number of wonderful stories of people, both civilian and military, who stepped up during that critical period.

We are well on the way to finishing the process of the removal of remains from here and then we will get about memorializing the event and reconstructing and I think it's been publicized how we intend to do that, the contractors that will be involved and so forth.

We are supporting Infinite Justice. As you know it was widely reported that the deployment order was signed yesterday. This is -- but I would remind you that the president and the secretary of Defense have made it clear that we are in a campaign, that this will be a multi-faceted campaign aimed at destroying international terrorism from a number of different perspectives -- economic, political, military, operational, communication. And consequently a single deployment order has been instituted following on that, but there's a lot more that will come.

The Army is engaged and is fully ready to execute its part of that campaign plan as it flows up. We have wonderful soldiers and they are trained and ready and confident that we will, in fact, get on with this as a part of our joint team.

So with that as background, why don't I open the floor to questions and we'll get to what you want to talk about.

QUESTION: What is the Army's role in supporting the (inaudible)? Can you be more specific?

WHITE: I won't be more specific in terms of the exact operational nature of the plan. Of course we won't talk about that. But we are ready to conduct sustained land combat operations as determined by the secretary of Defense and the president. That is our business, that is our mission. So as the campaign unfolds, should that be required, we're ready to deliver that, and we're ready to deliver it across the whole array of force structure -- heavy, light, air mobile, airborne, special operations. All of the combat capability and combat support and combat service support capability that we have in the Army structure.

QUESTION: You can't get into it, but everyone's already talked about, including the secretary, about Special Forces being used here. You don't take out these shadowy people with cruise missiles. You have to go and route them out of caves. We may need even more Special Forces.

Clearly, and everyone said it throughout the day, that Special Forces are going to lead the way for the Army. Is that right?

WHITE: Well, we have a very strong Special Ops capability in the Army, and I am sure that this campaign will involve them. And they are ready to go.

QUESTION: Have any Army units, were any covered under the deployment order from yesterday?

WHITE: I won't discuss the specifics of the deployment order except to say that we are in the process of executing that order. Our components are executing it. But I'm not going to get into the details of the line by line of the deployment --

QUESTION: Without going line by line, can you tell us if any units were covered by that deployment order?

WHITE: Yes. We have elements that were part of the order.

QUESTION: The OSD guidance, I understood, was once a unit is ordered you are free to identify it and tell us it's going. I thought that was the OSD guidance.

WHITE: Is that the OSD guidance? Then I'll have to follow up with you and give you specifics of it. We'll be happy to do that through Larry.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how is the Army going to prepare for this new kind of war that we keep hearing about? The long sustained, [knock 'em dead], we'll go in like Desert Storm and do our job and be out in a few days. How is the Army going to be trained and ready for this long operation?

WHITE: I think it (inaudible) very well (inaudible). We're going to submit the '03-'07 program next month, and I want to make sure that we have fully funded in that program both the interim brigades that we have announced, the six interim brigades we've announced, and keep those on schedule; and second, that we fully fund the objective force which is currently in the (inaudible). So I think it's critical that we maintain or find ways to accelerate the transformation and the program that we submit will reflect that.

QUESTION: And the $20 billion that is coming partly to the Pentagon, do you get some of that or something specifically aimed at dealing with this current situation?

WHITE: Yeah, I think you'll see a portion of this earmarked, for example, for force protection of bases and installations.

We have not --

QUESTION: Would that be higher up or --

WHITE: It's going to be a combination of things. I think there will be contract aspects of it, there will be in-house aspects of it, but we have never in the past been able to fully fund force protection requirements and I think it's clear that it's very important that we do so.

QUESTION: Anything else in the $20 billion that you anticipate --

WHITE: I think in addition to that you're going to have a bill for increased operational tempo. The normal things that you would see in a supplemental.

QUESTION: What about restructuring training? That's what some people in the Army are talking about, restructuring training to go after this current threat of terrorism, maybe more mountain training, for example. What can you say about that?

WHITE: We have restructured what we do in the Combat Training Command to represent a far more diverse threat portrayal than we typically did ten years ago. If you went to the National Training Center ten years ago you would have seen a Soviet motorized rifle regiment in all its glory. Today the portrayal of the threat there is very multi-dimensional. A wide range of scenarios. We've completely recast that into a more diverse approach which I think tracks with what you might call this more complicated operational environment that we face.

I think what we're doing in the National Training Center, both at Hohenfels, at JRTC, and at the NTC tracks very well with this new environment that we're in.

QUESTION: Have any of your forces been ordered to deploy (inaudible)?

WHITE: Any who?

QUESTION: Any of your forces been ordered to fly to the (inaudible)?

WHITE: Yeah. That's the same question I got earlier. We will get you the forces that are deploying, that were part of the deployment orders.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it's being dubbed Operation Infinite Justice.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: What would you say to the American people about, it doesn't sound like there's going to be any sort of end in sight. What would you say to the American people about that?

WHITE: Well, I think that's why the term infinite as opposed to finite justice.


WHITE: I think the president's been very clear and I'm sure he'll reemphasize it tonight in his speech, that this will be a campaign. A campaign is characterized by a series of engagements and activities leading up to a common operational objective. That objective being the destruction of international terrorism. The president has been clear that it's just not a single group engaged in this. There are multiple groups, multiple geographic locales. There are financial dimensions to this, there are communications dimensions to it, and if you are going to root out that infrastructure you have to have a broad-based approach of all of the elements of national power engaged. And it's very hard to draw a finite box around those sets of activities and say we expect it to be completed by date X. So I think that the name for the operation is consistent with the way we expect it to play out.

QUESTION: Is there anything about the QDR that is changed for the Army, or DoD in general that you're aware of, in light of the recent events?

WHITE: I think that we spent an enormous amount of time in the QDR talking about asymmetric threats and talking about homeland defense and informational warfare and things that seem to be totally relevant to the post 11 September security environment that we find ourselves in.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you to follow up on what you were saying about combat troops being ready on a couple of points.

There is obviously a lot of concern about the threat of terrorist chem/bio activity, and of course the anthrax program is sort of non-existent at the moment. What are your concerns about, you said you're ready for sustained land combat operations, but you're going to have an awful lot of troops that haven't had their shots. How are you going to deal with that challenge?

WHITE: I think that's a challenge for the whole department, and I think that you'll see in the upcoming days a more detailed plan as to how we plan to address that. As you know, as you've just said, our stocks are limited, and we stopped the broad immunization program, and that's going to have to be readdressed.

QUESTION: When you say that the Army is ready to conduct sustained land combat operations, but given that you're going into this at this time of year when certainly winter is already approaching, how do you deal with that? In Kosovo, of course, which was potentially a very limited land combat operation, you had a buildup period that you were going to have to address for some period of time. Can you tell us your thoughts on that?

WHITE: We have to deal with a lot of conditions, and we have a great deal of experience with cold weather operations. We've been in Germany a long time. We've been in Kosovo through a winter. We've been in Bosnia through several. So we are experienced, and we've got troops stationed in Alaska and at Fort Drum, New York, so we are used to operating in adverse weather conditions.

QUESTION: But what about the pace of being able to build up, to do what you want to do?

WHITE: Certainly it will be affected by the weather. No question about it.

QUESTION: Just timing?

WHITE: And consequently, if weather becomes a factor, like in any other operational theater there is the potential for the pace of operations to slow because of the weather.

QUESTION: But is there any place that you can conceive that this fight would take us into sustained ground combat? We're certainly not going to go in and try to fight a sustained combat in Afghanistan. Two centuries of history have proven the futility of that, and we should have no reason -- where would the Army have a sustained land campaign in this kind of operation?

WHITE: Well it depends upon -- again, the president said the focus here is terrorists and governments that support terrorists. So a lot of this really depends upon where the intelligence comes out, what the focus of the campaign turns out to be. On the one hand if the intelligence indicates that these people are operating independent of host nation support you get into a style of operation to deal with that. But as the president's very clearly said, we consider those that harbor and support international terrorism as a part of the crime. And to the extent that those governments continue or that we deem them to be a threat and a part of this and choose to conduct operations against them, then you could very well have sustained land combat operations. So I don't think you can rule out anything at this point.

QUESTION: Including Iraq?

QUESTION: Our society has come to expect casualties, a war with minimum casualties.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: Obviously it's hard to do in any kind of land operations, particularly sustained land operations. Can you address for our readers how this is going to be different?

WHITE: Again, the president has been very clear that in the conduct of this campaign there will most likely be casualties. That's the nature of the beast. And I think it's unreasonable for us to think that we can conduct a Kosovo-style air campaign at very high altitude without accepting the potential of casualties. I think the president's been very clear about that and I would suspect that he'll address that tonight.

QUESTION: General Zinni who knows this neighborhood pretty well from his time in CentCom had two points to make. He said first of all he thinks it's a bad idea to treat the terrorists as warriors which we're in a sense doing by going to war against them. He said they should be treated more as just common criminals and maybe the diplomats and law enforcement and others should be taking the lead here. That the military should maybe have a minor role.

He's also wondering what will happen down the road once we do get into say Afghanistan. Does Special Forces link up with a Northern Alliance to take out the terrorists, to take out bin Laden and maybe some of the Taliban? And then where does it head from there? Do you march to Kabul with the Northern Alliance and then install them as a new government? Then pretty soon they're your boys.

There are a lot of people saying where is this heading once you get in?

WHITE: I would say first of all on the general's first point, this is not a police activity, per se. We have treated it as a police activity in the past. This is war. The president has very clearly said we're at war with international terrorism, which means to me a much broader use of the full capabilities of the country to include what law enforcement can do, but also the strength and power of the military organizations, our economic resources.

Clearly one of the things that you're going to have to dismantle as a part of this operation is the financial network that supports the activity.

So we have to bring all the elements of national power to bear, not just that portion that deals with criminal conduct and activity. So I think the approach has to be much broader.

As to how the campaign plays out in any specific theater... And again, I think we should all be clear that while there is a lot of discussion right now about bin Laden and the fact that he appears to be in Afghanistan and focusing on that one small region, this is a global issue that we have to deal with.