July 20, 2001Despite public protests in Congress and resistance from inside the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared Wednesday he was "comfortable" with the progress of his attempts to reform the defense establishment. "I think we're making good progress," Rumsfeld said at an unplanned news conference at the Pentagon. Rumsfeld disputed inferences that the uniformed military or the Pentagon bureaucracy were blocking significant reforms in the Quadrennial Defense Review process. He said the QDR process was "complicated" and "challenging," particularly the short time available to complete it, and expressed satisfaction with the cooperation he has received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The QDR analysis is trying to balance dissimilar concepts, such as trying to maintain a force equal to the current risks versus the risk of not transforming the force to face future challenges. The Pentagon will meet the congressional deadline by submitting a QDR report by Oct. 1, but there still may be unanswered questions, he said. Rumsfeld also accepted as usual the strong congressional reaction to Air Force plans to retire 33 B-1B bombers from three air bases and use the savings to make the remaining B-1s more effective. "It's a very good proposal and I'm confident it will succeed," he said. Rumsfeld repeated his statement that "the last thing I want to do is close bases" but had to do it in order to "turn some of the waste into weapons."
July 20, 2001