U.S. Organizing Multinational Reconstruction Teams in AfghanistanDonald H. Rumsfeld,
Secretary of Defense
En Route Shannon, Ireland
April 26, 2003
Released by the Department of Defense
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: Four things just to open it up here. One is and certainty the most important is to have a chance to thank the troops in what ever number of countries we are going to, and who have all been, in one way or another, been deeply involved in the success being achieved in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Second, is to talk with the folks both with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan about the evolution that is taking place from major combat operations. And third, is to discuss with our allies in the countries around Iraq the arrangements we have with them and our partnership and cooperation as we look forward to the end at some point of major combat activity in Iraq. And last, is to underline both in Afghanistan and in Iraq the point that we have made repeatedly. We feel a commitment to those countries. We feel a commitment to the people of those countries, and we intend to stay there and work with international community to assist them in transitioning from where they were to where theyíre going from an authoritative, authoritarian system in each case. A repressive system in each case to something thatís on the path towards a more democratic and representative system in each country. Itís important to underline that and to demonstrate that commitment. Question.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) Afghanistan to (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: Weíll be having discussions on that subject with President Karzai and Gen. McNeal and others. And certainly with Gen. Franks before I go into Afghanistan.
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: Itís not. One ought not to think that this is a victory tour. It isnít. We have a lot of hard work left. People are still being shot at. In some cases killed and wounded. The task before us in Iraq is clearly one that is going to take a lot of attention, a lot of focus, and a lot of effort over a period of time.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what (inaudible) or countries around the world (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: The reality is in life that things are seldom black or white. Theyíre more often a gradation, and if one looks at Afghanistan and even Iraq today, itís very clear that we are and have been in a stabilization operation mode for sometime in many portions of the country. On the other hand, you look around you can certainly find places where there are still attacks and pockets of resistance. And one has to expect that that will continue. Particularly in countries where you have such porous borders. And letís face it, there are terrorists that exist in the world, and they donít wish those countries well. Theyíd like to take back Afghanistan and turn it back into a terrorist training camp and place to launch attacks against people across the globe. And we intend to see that that doesnít happen. But your right there is an advantage to some extent to some countries and some organizations look to the formality as opposed to the reality of whether or not an area is permissive and secure, and the bulk of Afghanistan is permissive and secure. As much as a country like thatís going to be. (inaudible) are areas particularly along the Pakistani border that are problems.
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: Well, the president announces his own travel plans. I donít do that for him and what ever he does in his speech is really for him to say. And I donít get into that.
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: Iím not. I donít know that I am. I want to. Weíre trying to make it happen. The distances are difficult, and the time makes it very difficult. But we are -- I personally am and our country, our government are very encouraged about the provincial reconstruction team. The so called PRTs. Youíll recall in the past there was a good deal of discussion about expanding security forces. Expanding the ISAF and the like. We were always happy to have the ISAF expanded. The problem was there werenít a lot of countries to formally step up their troops. The people who were recommending it were mostly on editorial boards, columnist, and at the U.N., but they didnít have troops to expand on it then. Weíve been working to expand the Afghan National Army, so the country of Afghanistan has a capability of its own to provide for security and thatís coming along pretty well. We decided to put our efforts beyond the Afghan National Army and beyond our support for ISAF staff and beyond our coalition forces activities around the country, which is considerable under Gen. McNeal. We decided to put our efforts behind these provincial reconstruction teams. The theory being that in the bulk of the country the area is permissive and secure, and by mixing a number of agencies and a number of countries, in some cases multiple nations, into these teams and going in and demonstrating an ability to make the life better for the Afghan people in those areas, those provinces, those villages, and cities. We believe that thatís probably the best thing that can be done to ultimately provide security. External security forces are important and necessary for a period. After a period, however, they can become an anomaly in a country. And people could become dependent on them, and in the last analysis, what we need is we have to have the people of Afghanistan decide that they want that country to be secure. That they want to support their national government, and we believe that the cooperation weíre engaged in with President Karzai and his government with respect to the provincial reconstruction teams is the kind of thing that will demonstrate to the people of Afghanistan that supporting the central government is a good thing. It benefits them and that is the path of the future. So, weíre able to -- I think we have three up and going now, and we have, I think, four, five or six that are en route. People are signing up and offering to head up these teams. Weíre hopeful that will make a difference in the country.
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: No, I would characterize it as a military mission. It is a, as I say, it isnít black and white. It was decisively in the areas that are permissive and secure as opposed to the areas that are not. The areas that are not that permissive really do not allow a PRT to function effectively. So they are being put into areas that are secure as to areas that are -- well, there are still pockets of resistance.
SECRETARY RUMSFIELD: The answer to the first question is that there are additional leaders being taken in almost everyday. I canít recall a day where we havenít gathered an additional one or two. Iíve only seen one of the debriefings from (inaudible), and itís too early to know precisely the extent to which he will or will not cooperate.
QUESTION: Thank you Mr. Secretary.