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

QUESTION: But clearly all the movement now is pointing towards Afghanistan. It's not pointing towards --

WHITE: Well, in a very initial sense. But again, the president has said this is a campaign, this campaign's going to go on for awhile, it's going to have far-reaching implications. And I have no idea how the specifics of this will play out when and if the president decides to actually conduct a combat operation in Afghanistan or the Persian Gulf. It's hard to predict.

QUESTION: That's the concern some of these people have. Once you go in, it's going to be like the KLA. Beforehand we're trying to keep them separated, then we go in, suddenly they're our buddies, you know? With the Northern Alliance you could have the same thing.

WHITE: It's a complicated situation.

QUESTION: But my question is, has this been thought through? Once you go in, then what happens? Has someone thought about linking up with the Northern Alliance, or are they just going to be --

WHITE: I would just say we're not going to share operational details, but clearly people are considering all of the implications of the operational environment.

QUESTION: Not to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but given that this will be a sustained campaign, are you reexamining your request for base closures?

WHITE: We have asked the Congress, as you all know, for base closure authority. We submitted the legislation. It will play out with decisions to be made on our part between now and 2003, a commission in 2003, with final decisions being made in the latter part of the year. That's the current plan, and no one's changed that approach.

QUESTION: May I ask you a question about the budget? Whatever we're talking about here, we're talking about something that's pretty expensive. $20 billion is going to be a down payment.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: The [build] for the 2003 POM had basically just started to get intense when this happened. Are people throwing out the window any concept of needing to limit the military budget? What do you think the POM is going to look like now? Because you're going to have to be building an Army the likes of which we have not seen since World War II possibly, potentially.

WHITE: I would say that the '03 POM build will have things in it that we intended in our transformation to emphasize anyway because they are totally relevant to the post 11 September environment we face. The SecDef talked a lot about long range precision strikes. That is... The secretary of Defense talked a lot about ballistic missile defense.

So you will see transformational technologies that we think are directly relevant to this asymmetric threat environment, and they'll be front and center in the POM development. That's why we think the work that was done on the QDR with its emphasis on asymmetric defense, homeland defense and so forth is entirely relevant to where we're headed. You'll see bills that we may not have paid fully like force protection and chemical defense teams, other types of things that are unique to say the homeland side of it, they'll generate more interest than perhaps they would have been compared to other things.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, I understand what you're saying, that you're not changing direction dramatically, that you felt you were going in the right direction anyway when this happened. What I'm asking is this. When you people put your budget together, is the whole consideration of the economy and saving money now basically out the window?

WHITE: No. Let me be very clear, that we have a bunch of initiatives on better business practices that we as Service secretaries, in particular, as the business managers of the departments, are pushing hard on. So what you should not interpret the whole exercise as we are now at war and therefore we can be fiscally irresponsible. We have to drive the business case, to squeeze every last dollar of inefficiency out of this if we're going to buy the capability that we think is necessary.

QUESTION: Do you think you might be accelerating any of your acquisition programs? Either from the '01 supplemental or the '02 budget?

WHITE: That could be, but we haven't made any decisions on that yet.

As we, I think, talked about all the major acquisition programs are under review, and for each one of them there are options that range from let's accelerate it and do it faster to we'd rather not have this going forward. The SecDef deferred beyond the '02 summer time discussion a review of those major programs, but that will be done this fall as a part of formulating the '03 budget.

QUESTION: (inaudible) there were several things underway, acquisition reform, and --

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: -- headquarters renovation.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: What was before kind of the day-to-day [vision] of the Army, is it going to be put on hold, or are you going to simultaneously move --

WHITE: We're going to move it forward. I'm glad you brought that up. We are going to go forward with a reorganization of the Army headquarters that basically combines the secretary and the Army staff in a far more efficient organization than has been the case in the past.

I think the challenges that we've faced since the 11th of September make it clearly necessary, that it has shown the value and the merit of the plan that we have put together, so we are not going to lose the momentum that we generated in putting those things together. We're going to get on with it, and we'll be able to talk to you about that shortly.

QUESTION: -- past that you didn't believe force structure cuts would be as wide placed in the Army.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: There is still (inaudible) on the table in the Army (inaudible) budget. Is it off the table now?

WHITE: No. I think because the secretary of Defense and the president have not made any choices on the '03 budget yet, you'll have to say those things are still on the table. I will make the argument once again, that at least in the near term the operational requirements that confront the Army require an Army of the size we have because the personnel tempo is already higher than we'd like it to be.

So the question I always raise is, if you want to take brigades out of this rotation that we have into Kosovo and Bosnia and the Sinai since Camp David and so on, if you are pulling brigades out of that rotation, my first question is what do I get to stop doing and when? Because if you look down in the trenches, the 3rd Infantry Division, which is currently coming out of Bosnia, the 29th Division, a National Guard division, going in, if you look at the number of days those people are spending away from home, they'll vote with their feet if we don't do a good job of managing this deployment business. And of course we are about to enter a campaign which is going to require further deployments.

So I will argue the case that the Army shouldn't get smaller. But the secretary of Defense and the president of course have the right to make decisions as they see fit.

QUESTION: Do you feel in light of recent events though, that that possibility is much...

WHITE: You would think so.

QUESTION: Speaking of forces, there's been a lot of talk about this campaign going on for years, and special forces are leading the way here. Rumsfeld suggests we may need even more.

Do you think there will be a need for additional Special Forces, special operations troops?

And some folks at West Point are suggesting that maybe the interim brigades, you might want to put some Ranger elements attached to the interim brigades. Are you looking at either increasing special operations --

WHITE: On the latter point, we have never been terribly successful over the years in mixing conventional and unconventional expertise. So I am more comfortable with the structure as it currently sits which is dedicated special operating forces, some of them present in a standing joint headquarters, JSOC. I think that has served us very, very well over the years.

The question then becomes is the structure adequate enough as you look at the demand for this campaign that we're launching into, and we'll just have to see what that looks like.

QUESTION: The first point as far as additional Special Operations forces?

WHITE: I don't know. It depends upon the requirements of the campaign as it plays out. I think it's too early to tell --

QUESTION: -- those guys --

WHITE: Clearly they have a critical capability in this asymmetric type of warfare.

QUESTION: Secretary White, are we going to continue with established training schedules with our soldiers overseas and so forth while we're in this high state of ready for war, or not?

WHITE: Yes. Because those training cycles reflect the ability to hone the edge and sustain readiness. So units will go to Grafenwoehr, units will go to Hohenfels. The normal European rotation units will go to the National Training Center. And if units are deployed and break their cycle then we'll deal with it when it happens. But the maintenance, the readiness is critical to the Army being able to support the campaign.

QUESTION: Has the administration decided exactly which terrorist we're going after? Is it the perpetrators of (inaudible) or is it also the Islamic separatists in China as well as the Chechnyan terrorists, and -- how far is the reach here?

WHITE: I don't know how definitive the administration has been beyond broadly -- the administration has been clear, I think the president's been clear that this problem is broader than Osama bin Laden, but I don't think they have precisely defined how broad it is and it would be inappropriate for me as an intelligence matter to do so. But clearly international terrorism is a very broad and very complex challenge.

QUESTION: Might you use your experience in Vietnam to look at psychological aspects the home front and the international?

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: We lost the war in Vietnam on the home front more than we lost it on the battlefield.

WHITE: Right.

QUESTION: The American people are seemingly unified now, fall behind the president and the administration. But if this thing is going to drag on, if it does, year after year, month upon year to year with all the homeland inconveniences and the trickle of casualties that follow, can we ever sustain this one? How is this one different from Vietnam? And can you sustain the homeland support?

WHITE: Well I think the obvious difference from Vietnam is that Ho Chi Minh never attacked the World Trade Center and never killed 5,000 of our inhabitants. So I think just the opposite is the case here. The fact that the war can be brought home to any neighborhood, any community in this country with devastating potential impact I think tends to focus the public mind on the need to conduct these operations. And the inconveniences to our average every day lives as we process through airports and all the other things that will change for us, and the price to be potentially paid to remove this threat to our existence... I think that's been very clearly brought home to us, and we have unified behind the president in this cause, and we will stay unified.

I think the challenge is entirely different than with Vietnam.

QUESTION: The other challenge that becomes similar is the hearts and minds issue. You're operating hopefully against a small group of people, but they swim in a sea of somewhat sympathetic folks -- the Muslim world as a whole. Isn't there a serious problem of a collateral damage issue, both physical and psychological and political? Where if we kill too many of the wrong people we end up with more enemies than we started with.

WHITE: I think that's why the Secretary of State, Secretary Powell, and the president are working so hard to build a coalition of support both in the Arab world and with our NATO allies and all other countries, so that this is not just a U.S. only action. This is a world response to a threat to all civilized nations regardless of whether they're Muslim nations or Christian nations or whatever the ethnicity of it is. And that that building of that support base and the sustainment of it I think is critical to the success of the campaign.

QUESTION: Can we get philosophical for a second?

WHITE: Philosophical.


WHITE: -- poisoned something --

QUESTION: Terrorism is obviously not a place or a person, it is a tactic, and it is the only available tactic to someone taking on a power as strong as the United States, it has to be asymmetrical.

So how can you defeat a tactic? Is this a war that can ever actually be won, and how do you know when you've won it?

WHITE: Well, I suppose the philosophy of it is that you have to attack the root causes of why terrorism exist. Is it economic, is it political, is it religious? What causes --

There's a distinct shift here in the profile of who you're dealing with. It's one thing for a Palestinian to wrap a bomb around his or her body and show up in a pizzeria in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, who lived and grew up in a refugee camp, who is impoverished and has a view of the world that is enormously, and the opportunities it provides is enormously different than ours.

It's quite another to find people who you would define I suppose broadly as middle class, who have been university students, who have traveled parts of the world, Europe and the United States, who have lived among us, and then somehow convinced themselves that they should be a part of something horrible and evil as transpired on the 11th of September.

So I think we need eventually to go to the root cause of how this could happen, and we have to attack those root causes if we're ever going to completely eliminate them.

QUESTION: What are those root causes?

WHITE: I don't know. I'm not an expert on the subject. It's a great question to ask because I read the press as you do, and looking into the backgrounds of these people, some of them didn't appear to be deeply religious, some of them, you know, so why did they do this? I don't think anybody knows. And certainly there are a lot more people that are expert on this than I.

QUESTION: Can you quickly, where are you with the reserve call-up since the president gave you the authority to do it?

WHITE: The president gave the authority and we are selectively calling up reserve units, mainly combat service support elements that augment force protection and things of that nature.

QUESTION: You have called up some?


QUESTION: Can you identify them? We keep asking and nobody gives us a list.

WHITE: We'll get you not only the federal reserves that have been called up and the numbers associated with that, but also the National Guard, virtually all of which are still under state control.

QUESTION: How long? I'm hearing at least -- I know it's up to two years, but at least a year.

WHITE: Okay. Hang on -- yeah, that's fine. I don't know the answer to that question. But Larry will pass you whatever we can release...

GOTTARDI: We know what are being called up now are mainly the Quartermaster folks involved in recovery. There are others to come, but I don't have -- I'll find out what I can and --

QUESTION: -- they are not actually doing any call-ups until --

GOTTARDI: There's a misnomer. A lot of times, what we're under right now is TTAD, which is Temporary Tour of Active Duty. That's not technically a call-up. I need to be careful, because if you're in the reserve component community, each one of these statuses describes something that's very, very different.

QUESTION: Right. We want to know --

ALLEN: You define call-up differently than the reserve component guys do.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

GOTTARDI: You have units, we started out -- We have no PRSC, so you have units whose capabilities you needed, so what you did is you put them on TTAD status, which is Temporary Tour of Active Duty, which is not technically a call up. You say that, but a Guard and Reserve guy would say oh, no, no.

Would anybody be interested in somebody who can sit down and talk to you, this is what this means and this is what that means. I can get somebody --

QUESTION: (Multiple voices)

GOTTARDI: -- Quartermaster and 54th --

HOEHNE: On their web site they have a full list of Army...

ALLEN: We've got a couple of companies, the MP brigade or the MP company from Maryland has, but they're all on the web site.

HOEHNE: It's all listed on the web site, they're updating it twice a day.

GOTTARDI: The way we stand right now, we can confirm (inaudible) deployment order...

(Multiple voices)

WHITE: I have no objection to that.

Thank you very much.