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gion, could you share with the committee what is the plan that, once you've taken out Saddam, we will have a military presence there for quite awhile in order to make sure that there is peace and stability in the region and that there's not another Saddam that rises up that gives us the same problem in the first place that we have?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Senator Nelson, I think what I would say is that the immediate objective is disarmament. I think a case can be made that the policy of the United States Government, including Congress, is regime change. But I think the reason Congress came to that conclusion and the President talks of regime change as a policy of the United States is because it's, at this stage, so difficult to imagine disarmament without regime change.
With respect to what might follow, the Department of State has given thought to that. It's hard to know precisely. The things that
sense broad agreement on in the international community is that it would be enormously unhelpful if Iraq would split up into multiple states, that it should be a single country, that that's best for the region, that it be a government that does not have weapons of mass destruction, does not threaten its neighbors, and provides through some mechanisms of elections and representation to assures that the ethnic minorities in that country are treated properly and that they're not repressed or disadvantaged.
Again, the President has not made a decision, but if one assumes, as your hypothetical question does, that force is used, disarmament takes some period of time. One would think there would have to be a military presence, undoubtedly a coalition presence or a U.N. presence for a period of time, and it will take some time to find all of these locations because there are so many and they're so well hidden.
Iraq's economic circumstance is quite different from Afghanistan's in the sense that they do have substantial oil revenues. Therefore, from a reconstruction standpoint and from a recovery standpoint, one would think that during that period where the disarming is taking place and by, presumably, an international or coalition force of some sort, and, presumably, Iraqis from inside the country and from outside the country would have some sort of a mechanism whereby they would decide what kind of a government or template would make sense. It was the Afghan people that decided that, and I would think it would be the same to Iraqi people. They will be liberated people and they will have choices they haven't had for many, many years.
I would think that during that period, the economic circumstance of not just that country but the neighboring countries would be enormously benefitted. It has not been a happy part of the world under his leadership.
Beyond that, I think part of it would be left to the Department of State, part of it would be left to the Iraqi people, and part of it would be left to some sort of an international coalition that would be participating.
Senator BILL NELSON. Mr. Secretary, you really have stirred up MacDill and the Tampa area. I'm quoting from the Tampa Tribune of a couple of days ago.
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday ridiculed the location of U.S. Central Command in Tampa while asserting that a certain logic points toward a move closer to potential battle zones near the Persian Gulf. General Tommy Franks, . headquarters for war operations in Asia and the Middle East, has been pressing for a move, Rumsfeld said. “Tom Franks has been after me to do that ever since I arrived in the department,' Rumsfeld said. "There's a certain logic to it.'”
[The information referred to follows:]
The Tampa Tribune September 17, 2002, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
Copyright 2002 The Tribune Co. Publishes The Tampa Tribune
The Tampa Tribune
September 17, 2002, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NATION/WORLD, Pg. 1
LENGTH: 1074 words
HEADLINE: Rumsfeld: Tampa No Place To Run War MacDill May Be Forced Out Of Action BYLINE: KEITH EPSTEIN, email@example.com; Reporter George Coryell contributed to this report. Reporter Keith Epstein can be reached at (202) 662-7673.
Gen. Tommy Franks, combatant commander at MacDill Air Force Base, headquarters for war operations in Asia and the Middle East, has been pressing for the move, Rumsfeld said.
"Tom Franks has been after me to do that ever since I arrived in the department," Rumsfeld said. "And there's a certain logic to it. "The European Command is in Europe. The Pacific Command's in the Pacific. And the Central Command is in - Tampa," nowhere near the Central Asia territory that is its responsibility. Rumsfeld's face wore a mocking, puzzled expression, and he squared off his fingers in a frame as if trying to straighten a picture.
"You think, "My goodness, why is that?' Well, it's just history," he said.
Rumsfeld's remarks came only days after senior Pentagon officials disclosed that 600 of CentCom's personnel in Tampa, a substantial proportion, will in November be deployed to the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar to test the readiness of a mobile command and communications facility. The move has been widely viewed as a potential prelude to war.
But more than a few Pentagon hands were surprised by Rumsfeld's disclosure that he is considering moving CentCom itself, a major military and Tampa Bay institution that has survived years of discussion about possible shifts, largely because of politics, advances in computers, satellites, and the machinery of war - and because of the volatility of the vast region it oversees.
The prospect of a move caught even Rumsfeld's aides off guard.
"Maybe that is where he's going to push it down the pike," said Lt. Dan Herlage, a Defense Department spokesman. "But there's no plan for that that I know of at this point. Nobody's put pen to paper on this one.
"I hope he's just thinking out loud."
The Gulf War Strategy
During the Persian Gulf War, CentCom's commander in chief, Norman Schwarzkopf, operated from a "forward command" in Saudi Arabia, which Franks agreed was essential because of the need to manage half a million troops from many nations.
But publicly, at least, Franks has appeared to support CentCom's Tampa-based role and even during the war in Afghanistan has made infrequent visits there, generally one a month. Only a few weeks ago, Franks boasted about the "technological sophistication that did not exist 10 years ago" that makes it possible to manage a war from thousands of miles away. "I'm asked, how can you be at Central Command here in Tampa at MacDill when you have a war going on halfway around the world?" Franks said. Thanks largely to technology, "situational awareness in this effort is better than any situational awareness we've had in history." So far, he said, "this has been more effective than sitting on the battlefield." But he acknowledged he sometimes felt more out of touch than would a commander on the scene. "It's hard to do that when you're 7,000 or 8,000 miles away," he said.
Rumsfeld touched upon that in his remarks, pointing out the time zones that separate Franks from the action.
"It's clearly difficult to deal in those time zones if your team of people dealing in that time zone is physically in Tampa as opposed to in the time zone in the area of responsibility of the Central Command," he said. When it is noon in Kabul, Afghanistan, it is 3:30 a.m. at CentCom's headquarters in Tampa.
The training exercise in Qatar - which CentCom said would last only a week but senior Pentagon officials stressed could stretch longer, especially if the United States goes to war against Iraq - involves the testing of mobile electronics systems.
From a large, new multibillion-dollar air base at al-Udeid, the personnel from Tampa were to oversee all U.S. military forces in the region, in essence testing a new forward command.
The Saudis say that under certain circumstances, such as an agreement from the United Nations, the United States could receive permission to manage a major assault on Iraq from Saudi Arabia, giving the United States two options.
Franks is "looking at different ways, alternatives of doing things," Rumsfeld sald. "What will eventually happen, I think, remains to be seen. But he clearly is developing some capability in that part of the world."
As Franks said recently, "Anyone in my line of work seeks flexibility."
A CentCom spokesman on Monday declined to address Rumsfeld's remarks, saying the command does not comment on "future operations."
The history of CentCom is rife with discussions about whether to move, and speculation about why it exists in Tampa rather than any number of other locations. On CentCom's own web site, in fact, on a page of "frequently asked questions," the first is, "Why is the U.S. Central Command Headquarters located in Tampa, Fla., and not in the Arabian Gulf or elsewhere in the Middle East?"
The answer: "Because of sensitivities of some of the region's nations which are reluctant to host a permanent and relatively large U.S. military presence on their soll."
CentCom's origin was almost accidental and certainly evolutionary. President Reagan established it in 1983 as a successor to the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force.
Before then, the most volatile regions on the planet - a vast 3,600-mile-long, 4,600-milewide swath stretching from North Africa to Southeast Asia through 25 countries - fell into a gray area between the Pacific and European commands.
The countries include several with which the United States has been most concerned over the last two decades, such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among the five unified commands, only CentCom operates at a distance from the region it oversees, largely because nations of Asia, for instance, often view Americans as interlopers and are opposed to allowing American troops in their homelands. This unwillingness to host the U.S. military has been underscored by incidents such as the 1996 bombing by terrorists of the air base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 airmen; the failed attempt to snatch a Somali warlord in 1993, in which 18 soldiers died; the bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya that killed 213 and injured thousands; and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
Can you help unstir what's going on down there?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Well, you will not find a quote anywhere that even begins to approximate “Rumsfeld ridiculing,” notwithstanding what that, I'm sure, outstanding newspaper had to say.
It is true that before I arrived back in the Pentagon in January of last year, the Central Command has had a concern about its location. This did not arrive with Tom Franks talking to me; it preceded me. Is that correct, General?
General MYERS. That's correct.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Part of the reason why I mentioned it was due to the time zones. If you've got a command center that is about six time zones away, it makes everything a little harder. Our European Command is in Europe. Our Pacific Command is in the Pacific, and our Central Command for that whole region-Afghanistan and the Middle East and that whole portion of the world-is in Tampa, Florida. That does not say anything against Tampa, Florida, except that Tampa, Florida, happens not to be located in the Central Command, just by happenstance, well before I arrived. Tom Franks has, ever since I arrived, raised this issue with me, and he is in the process of moving some pieces so that he and some of his key people will be capable of functioning in that part of the world.
Is that pretty close?
General MYERS. Yes, sir. I think the intention is a forward element. Senator Nelson, there was a lot of debate during the high tempo combat in Afghanistan about where General Franks should be, and I think this is part of that argument. But we're talking about a forward element that General Franks could fall in on from time to time.
Senator BILL NELSON. Is that what you're speaking of, a forward element, or are you talking about a complete relocation of the Central Command?
General MYERS. Senator, I think now what is being discussed is an element—the capability, the equipment, the infrastructure—to fall in on from time to time. I think that's the discussion now.
Senator Bill NELSON. Well, I'm obviously going to have to visit with you on this. The political sensitivities is one reason that it's not been located over in that area, which is why we didn't have it, for example, in the Gulf War. General Schwartzkopf had moved an element over there for the conduct of that war, similar, General Myers, to what you're saying that is being done here.
General MYERS. I believe that's correct. I think it's still being decided how permanent a forward element you would have, how large it would be. From a military point of view, you'd want to have some infrastructure there that people could use, where you'd have the communications and so forth rather than have to lay that in every time. It's terribly expensive to do it that way.
Secretary RUMSFELD. I will say Florida, of course, is host to the Special Operations Command. It's host to the Naval Aviation Training Command. I lived in Florida and was a pilot in the Navy in the Southern Command. It is a state that's hospitable to the military, and that's why there's a great deal of military activity in the state, because they are so well treated.
Senator BILL NELSON. Mr. Chairman, just in closing, I'd like to thank both of these gentlemen, because I'm sure they had the input into the President's speech at the United Nations in which he drew attention to the downed American pilot, Scott Speicher, and of which I have visited with both of these gentlemen ad infinitum, and of which is just going to be another element that we're going to have to consider when we go into Iraq.
Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Nelson.
Senator INHOFE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have four things I'm going to try to cover real quickly.
First of all, Mr. Secretary, I don't want people to misinterpret at a future time the answer that you gave to the initial question. That was a very good question by our Chairman; how can we carry out the war with the readiness problems that we have? Having chaired the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, we have very serious problems, and I wouldn't want your response to be interpreted in some way that our Guard and Reserve are going to be able to take care of the end-strength problems and all the others that we have.
I think I've heard you say in previous hearings that historically in the 20th century during peacetime that the average percentage of Gross Domestic Product has been some 5.7 percent to go to Defense. During wartime, it goes to 13.3 percent. It has been, in the last few years, less than 3 percent, only in this more optimistic budget we're in right now it's 3.11 percent. So I'd just like to have you make a statement that we need to do something about our overall defense spending. You can no longer go after modernization at the expense of readiness or RPM accounts at the expense of National Missile Defense.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Senator, you're exactly right. There's no question but that the Chairman and I and others have testified before this committee and before the House discussing the fact that our aircraft fleet is aging, that our shipbuilding numbers are not at the levels they should be, and that the housing situation for many of the men and women in uniform is substandard.
Senator INHOFE. Thank you.