United States Department of Defense
Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
DoD News Briefing – Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001 – 12:27 p.m. EDT
Wolfowitz: Good afternoon. This is a grim week.
President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have made clear that as a country we are entering into a campaign against terrorism that has to be sustained and broad and effective. And as the president said in his remarks yesterday [at] the National Security Council meeting, the enemy that has struck has attacked not just our people but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world. The United States of America will use all our resources to conquer this enemy. We will rally the world. We will be patient, we will be focused, and we will be steadfast in our determination. Make no mistake about it; we will win.
As a first step in that direction, the president yesterday sent to the Congress a request for a $20 billion emergency supplemental for the year 2001. And I’m here just to sketch in broadest terms our thinking on that supplemental. It’s government-wide; it’s not just the Defense Department. But obviously, a very great portion of those needs are to prepare our armed forces for whatever the president may ask them to do.
There are obviously other needs as well. There are needs of the victims, both here and in New York. There’s rebuilding to be done, both here in and in New York. There are costs already incurred with the air — combat air patrols that have been maintained over a significant number of American cities, including Washington. The costs mount rapidly, and they will mount more rapidly as this campaign develops.
We appreciate the indications we’ve had from the Congress of strong support for this request, and we of course will work very closely with the Congress as we develop the details of how this money may be used.
I think the most important point to stress is that this is a message, to those who support terrorism, that the United States is serious about the president’s words. This is an indication of America’s purpose, a projection of our will, and I think it’s a message to friends and adversaries alike that this is a completely different ballgame that we’re in now.
I’d be happy to take questions, but I’m probably going to not get into a lot of details.
Q: Mr. Secretary, how much of this 20 billion is for — first of all, for the military? And how much involves cleanup and current operations — as you say, such as air CAP — and how much involves preparing the military to strike back? Can you break — give us any sense of how much involves preparing for a strike —
Wolfowitz: I don’t think we know the breakdown yet, partly because the needs are so enormous. It basically includes all of the above, and not — as I said, not just for the Defense Department. There is help for the victims and their families — I mean, even things as simple as DoD mortuary teams that have gone up to New York to help with the disaster up there. You’ve seen the disaster in this building, and we still have major work to do.
But obviously, a significant piece of this is going to be to bring our armed forces to the highest level of preparedness, to be able to execute whatever it is the president may ask them to do.
Q: How much of the 20 billion would be for the armed forces, the Pentagon?
Wolfowitz: That remains to be worked out.
Q: Oh, it has not been —
Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, it kind of rolls off the tongue pretty well — "sustained and broad" — against terrorism. But doing it, most people concede, is a totally different issue. According to polls, the American public supports military action against those who conducted the attack on Tuesday. But what do you hit? And how do you go after it? If it is Osama bin Laden or somebody comparable, there don’t seem to be any hard targets, nothing comparable to the damage done here. What kind of a war do you wage?
Wolfowitz: Well, I think we’re going to see how this unfolds, and it’s going to unfold over time. I think one thing is clear, is that you don’t do it with just a single military strike, no matter how dramatic. You don’t do it with just military forces alone, you do it with the full resources of the U.S. government.
It will be a campaign, not a single action. And we’re going to keep after these people and the people who support them until this stops. And it has to be treated that way.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what support will you be getting from the allies in this effort? NATO has expressed support. Are you talking with your Russian counterparts? Will we see a different alliance striking at terrorism?
Wolfowitz: I think the while civilized world has been shocked by what’s happened, and even some elements of the uncivilized world have begun to wonder whether maybe they’re on the wrong side here. The president’s been in close contact with a number of world leaders, including our allies, including President Putin of Russia, including our friends in the Middle East, in the Gulf region. I think everyone understands that we have, unfortunately, entered a new era. We are all going to be tested.
We’re going to be coming to each one of them, I’m sure, with a variety of different requests. Some of those are being developed, many more we’re going to develop as we proceed. And I think so far we’ve seen indications from a wide variety of sources that people will step up when asked. And believe me, they will be asked.
Q: Does this mean there’s an end to any kind of drawdown of the military?
Wolfowitz: I’m not sure which drawdown you’re referring to. We were talking in the context of the QDR about major investments to build up our military for the next decade. I think what this means is there are also going to be some huge requirements to build up our military for the next year, and maybe longer.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you have a Quadrennial Defense Review that’s due to Congress in just a few weeks, and certainly this changes the whole perspective of it. It changes everything — (inaudible) — program, what you’re going to put your money in. Do you still intend on meeting that [September] 30th deadline, or what do you plan on doing with the Quadrennial Defense Review?
Wolfowitz: I don’t think a final decision’s been made on that. I wouldn’t agree that it changes everything. It changes a great deal. And as I just said in answer to the previous question, we now have requirements that we didn’t contemplate two weeks ago. But I don’t think that means that the requirements that we contemplated for 10 and 15 years from now are necessarily all that different.
Q: Sir, a question about the budget process as it stood on Monday before the incident. Have you or anyone else at [the] OSD level issued different guidance, different directions today or yesterday as to the disposition of the development of the next POM cycle in the budget as a result of the tragedy?
And can you give us any visibility about where you stand in building that next fiscal perspective for the military build-up that you’ve discussed? Have you put that down in writing to the force —
Wolfowitz: Well, as I think you probably understand, because it’s a well informed question, that the budget process is a great big machine, and you don’t sort of turn it on or off or steer it quickly. And I think that machine continues to work in a lot of fine-grain detail on our out-year requirements. Clearly there are going to be a whole range of new requirements, and we are already working with the services and defense agencies to start to identify a range of what those near-term requirements may be. As you probably realize, this $20 billion is ’01 money, and so it doesn’t even begin to address the question of amended requirements for ’02 and beyond.
We are in a different era. I think the president has made that clear. The secretary of Defense has made that clear. Everything is going to change. But we hope that with this $20 billion initial move forward, that particularly our enemies will get a message, and the people who have to be with us will get a message as well that we’re serious.
Q: The president had said that the United States intends to find those who are responsible for these attacks and hold them accountable. But he and others, including you today, have also spoken about a much broader campaign that would seem to go beyond, in terms of targets, beyond those that may have been responsible for this particular attack. How should we look at that?
Wolfowitz: Well, I think the president’s words are pretty good, so let me say, these people try to hide, but they won’t be able to hide forever. They think their harbors are safe, but they won’t be safe forever. I think one has to say it’s not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that’s why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign. It’s not going to stop if a few criminals are taken care of.
Q: Do you anticipate — given the devastation in New York, I mean $20 billion looks like it’s just going to be a down payment on repairing what was destroyed. Do you anticipate having to shift around any of DoD’s internal resources in the 2002 budget to cover some of the bills here and to begin work on any of the kind of anti-terrorism or counterterrorism measures?
Wolfowitz: I anticipate, and the indications from the Congress are that my anticipation is well-founded, that we will have new additional resources to cover not only the damage that has been inflicted, but to start to begin to build the military capability we need for other options.
So I don’t envisage shifting resources around, as your question implies.
Q: So that for the money that you all have asked for now would stay where it is, and then you expect to get additional resources in the 2002 budget for added work — restoration —
Wolfowitz: That’s my expectation, yes.
Q: Secretary Mineta talked today about his request to put military personnel aboard civilian airliners when they start flying again to supplement the sky marshal program. Have you received that request from the Transportation Department, and do you think that’s something you’re going to be able to take on now?
Wolfowitz: I’m not sure what Secretary Mineta said. The question of marshals is a complicated one; the question of putting U.S. military personnel who may or may not be trained in law enforcement techniques on planes is a difficult one. We’re obviously going to work with the Transportation Department and with the FBI and Marshals Service and anyone can use our expertise to provide what capabilities are needed. But it is a complicated issue.
Yes, in the back.
Q: Just to follow up —
Q: Just to follow on that question, if I could, Secretary Mineta also said that he was going to request personnel from Delta Force to come in and train air marshals in a speedy fashion to get them up and running quickly. I’m assuming, I guess, that you have not received such a request. Are you willing to entertain such a request? Is this something that would be appropriate for the Defense Department?
Wolfowitz: There’s definitely been discussion, and I don’t know whether you want to get into a semantic — (laughs) — discussion about what’s a request, what’s not a request. What is needed — and I think we all agree on it — is a plan for training up civilian air marshals. And if U.S. military expertise is useful in that, obviously we want to make it available. At the same time, this is fundamentally a civil function. It doesn’t require all the exotic training that Delta Force members have. And on the other hand, it requires law enforcement training that our people don’t have. So we’re going to be working closely.
I hope you understand. I mean, there’s a great deal that we’re improvising here as we go, trying to improvise as fast as we possibly can —
Q: But it’s something you’re looking at that may or may not be deemed appropriate, there may be some other avenue that would be more desirable?
Wolfowitz: I think the exact way forward hasn’t been decided yet.
Yes, in back?
Q: And to follow, you said some of the money will be to start to build the military capability we need. You then identified terrorism as a threat now for 10 years. What is it that you envision when you say that? What is the capability that we don’t have that we need?
Wolfowitz: The capabilities to sustain — we have enormous capability. That’s no secret.
But it’s also no secret — go back 10 years, we had enormous capability when we actually deployed several hundred thousand troops for Desert Storm. We needed sustainment; we needed munitions; we needed logistics; we needed fuel; we needed things that you don’t plan for because you don’t plan for that level of operations on a day-to-day basis.
So across a wide spectrum, there are certain to be increased operational costs, even though I couldn’t tell you today exactly what operations, and therefore, it’s a matter of trying to plan ahead to think about those things that will be strained.
There are also some, obviously, heightened awareness about force protection measures, and some that might have been considered lower priority in previous budgets have suddenly advanced to being high priority as well. There are intelligence needs. And again, you know, there’s always a question — there are always needs that you’d like to fund that you can’t fund. When you view the world through the perspective of what happened on Tuesday, some of those things look a heck of a lot more important than they looked a week ago.
Q: Secretary, there’s been a discussion in Washington before Tuesday of whether to dip into the Social Security or Medicare trust funds to fund your $18.4 billion for 2000 — the addition. Do the events of Tuesday pretty much wash out any concerns that we’re going to have to dip into Social Security and Medicare to pay for these additional dollars?
Wolfowitz: I think that’s really a question that the White House or OMB would have to answer. But I think the president has made it clear all along that there are certain conditions under which his concerns would — about the Social Security trust fund would — would not apply, and I believe we’re in one of those conditions. But you’d have to ask the White House, not me.
Q: Follow-up. You mentioned civilian — a combat CAP [combat air patrol] over a number of cities, including Washington. The FBI today refused to rule out the possibility that an F-16 shot down that airliner over Pennsylvania. Can you address that at all?
Wolfowitz: I have no information on it at all. In fact, that’s the first I heard, and I’m going to look into it. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there were ongoing concerns that the attacks were just the beginning or perhaps the middle — perhaps the beginning phase of a longer operation. Have you come to any conclusion as to whether that’s true? What kind of posture do you think they’re in now?
Wolfowitz: I think we’re operating on the assumption that we haven’t seen the last of these criminals, and that there may be things anticipated, planned, as part of this operation. And in that case, we’re quite certain that they, and people like them, have the capability and the intent to do this kind of thing to us as a country in the future. But we’re on a very high state of alert, and we continue to be on our guard against a number of possibilities.
Q: Just to follow on that. In terms of where your attention was directed — or where the intelligence community’s attention was directed before the events, it seemed to have been external. There was the alert in Jordan; there were alerts in various other places. Has there been any conclusion as to whether or not those in fact were sort of red herrings and that the United States was diverted to looking abroad when it should have been looking inside?
Wolfowitz: I think — I mean, this is really — I’m going to send this one over to George Tenet to answer. I think we are looking everywhere. And obviously, one of the things these guys have demonstrated is that as hard as we look, they can hide some things from us. And that’s why we’re going to try to deny them the sanctuaries and the places from which they do hide things.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned — you know, there’s been a reluctance from people from that podium to tell the American people what we’re doing, what the American military is doing to protect them at this time. We all are aware that there’s a heightened danger, but you all seemed to be willing to say, you know, "Trust us, we’re taking care of you," but you won’t tell us what it is that the American — the military is doing to help ward off another one of these attacks.
Wolfowitz: I’m sorry, I didn’t really come prepared to answer those questions. I don’t know what’s been said from this podium. It seems to me that what’s quite clear, though, is that we do not want to write a road map for some future hijacker to figure out what we’re doing and what we’re not doing. And I think the American public fully understands the need for secrecy in military operations, and we are engaged in military operations when we’re defending the airspace of the United States.
Q: Can I do a follow on that just very quickly?
Q: I know you don’t discuss operational details. However, can you tell us, regarding the purely military aspect of this broad and sustained campaign, when will it begin? Are we talking about hours, days, weeks? Can you give us any indication at all?
Wolfowitz: No. I think the more important point is, it’s not going to end until these people are defeated. And as the president said, that’s going to take time and it’s going to take patience. And I think that’s what people have to be ready for.
Q: We’ve got a fairly elaborate structure in this country to keep the military out of civil affairs. Is the Pentagon now anticipating that that’s going to be restructured in a permanent way, that there’s going to be a permanent role for the service branches in domestic policing, in domestic security? Are we going to reconstitute the Army or the Air Force in some way to give them a new role in domestic security?
Wolfowitz: We’re certainly not anticipating that. I mean, we are working hard at trying to figure out how to do better the role that’s already assigned to us, which includes a great deal of support to civil authorities in the event of disasters of this kind or even worse ones. And there’s a great deal of work that has to be done in that department. I think it’s — we certainly understand our role and our relationship to civil authorities. Unless civil authorities change that role, we’re not planning to go beyond it.
Q: Both you and the secretary have both used similar phrasing, "different kind of ballgame," "21st century battlefield," that sort of thing.
Can you give the American [public] a sense, sort of an elaboration, again without the specific details, of what you’re talking about? Are we talking now about, don’t expect [the] sort of antiseptic missile strikes that you’ve seen in past situations. We’re talking now, bracing the America people for troops on the ground, hand-to-hand, in trenches. I mean, can you give us a sense on that?
Wolfowitz: I am not here to discuss military options, and the president has a whole range of options in front of him. What I am here, and I want to repeat this, and it’s not just to tell the American people, but to tell the world, $20 billion is a lot of money, but for this country, it is just a down payment on what we’re going to do. The people who have done this horrible deed against us and who plan other deeds better realize that the American people are aroused. And as observers from Alexis DeTocqueville to Winston Churchill have observed, once this country is aroused, we mobilize the resources. And $20 billion is a good start.
Thank you very much.