GEN. MYERS: I would not use the word “psychological operations.” That’s usually how we try to influence the adversary. … I think more broadly we want to talk about strategic communications, and particularly the public diplomacy part … [Rumsfeld, who answered first] has just led us through, and now it’s been adopted by the U.S. government, is a new strategy and way ahead on the war on terrorism, and it has the same elements, but different things under the elements. And it’s defense here at home and for our friends and allies. It’s offense, which there has to be.

   But the more important thing, and the thing that will take longer, is to change the environment where you don’t have men and women wanting to join jihad. The best way that message can be delivered is not by the United States of America, but by moderate Muslims around the world. [H]ow we facilitate that, and so forth, is a matter of the strategy.

   But I think you’re [questioner] exactly right. And I would give us a grade. I think up till now, our ability to do that — influence strategic communications — is a D-minus. [W]e have A-plus capability, and we’ve got to harness it. And it’s part of harnessing all our instruments of national power. … [W]e can kill the adversary for a long time, and we’re pretty darn good at it. But that’s not going to solve the long problem.

– From the June 29 Town Hall meeting of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers, and soldiers and staffers.

Below, a brave Navy staffer dares to ask Rumsfeld about needed technology funding — “we’re getting dramatic cuts in the amount of money that we have …”
Yet another boldly asks about the increase in use of private contractors.

Note: The following exchange does not appear in a single news story anywhere that I can find:

Note the remarks at the end of the exchange. This Newhart — whose remark’s I can’t find anywhere in any news report — made Rumsfeld and Myers uncomfortable.

Below: The question about private contractors.

Q Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary, General Myers. My name is Fred Newhart. I work for OPNAV as a resource officer. As we’re finalizing the ’07 budget, we’re almost getting the ink signed on that and we’re getting ready for ’08. I know myself, and most of my counterparts in the other services, every year we — you know, we’re trying to get the best technology, the best equipment out to our soldiers and sailors out on the frontline. And yet every year — this is my fourth cycle — we’re getting dramatic cuts in the amount of money that we have to do that. Unfortunately, the technology and equipment keeps going up. At some point in time, we’re going to end up killing programs that would benefit the soldiers and sailors.

And I was just wondering if you have thoughts on that, sir? Is this a continuing trend, or are we finally going to end up getting to a point where, you know, we stop and we start getting the money that we really need to try and get this equipment?

SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, that’s a hard question to answer. I just don’t know enough about your personal circumstance and what you’re seeing and what trend lines you’re looking at, or why.

I do know that from — on a macro basis, this department is receiving something like a half a trillion dollars a year. That is an enormous amount of money that the taxpayers and the Congress and the president have decided ought to be invested in the single-most important thing we do, and that’s provide for the security of our country.

It is not a matter of being short of funds at a half a trillion dollars a year, if one looks around the globe at other countries’ investments and the like, it is a matter of allocation, and that means that there’s constantly going — resources, no matter what the level is, are going to be finite. There’s going to be some number, and that’s it. It happens it’s in the neighborhood of a half a trillion dollars a year, which is an enormous amount of money. Then the question is what do you do with it? And that’s a competition of ideas, it’s an allocation — set of allocation issues.

And I just cannot accept that there is a money problem. The problem I would characterize it, given our circumstance, I would characterize it as a persuasion problem. In other words, if these things are competing against each other, then — and they’re not properly allocated, then someone who’s more persuasive for something that is less important, or the power of the lobby for it, I should say maybe, in the Congress or in the industry, or something, is a part of the issue. But we certainly ought to be smart enough and wise enough to allocate the resources here and go up to the Congress and say, Here’s how we believe it ought to be spent.

We’ve got a phrase we use around here. I don’t use it, but others do. There’s a couple of phrases that I have trouble with. One is “requirement”. I think of it as an appetite. (Laughter.)

The second phrase we have is “high demand, low density”. Now, I think of that as we bought the wrong things. (Laughter.) It’s a — it is a world class baloney phrase: high demand, low density. It just means we didn’t do our jobs well. That’s what it means. So do your job better. (Laughter, applause.)

Q (Off mike.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Just kidding. (Laughter.) Don’t give him the mike. (Laughter.)


STAFF: Behind you.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Behind me. Yes. Better make it good. (Laughter.)

Q Hi. My name is Kirk Marshal (sp). I’m a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and I’m interning here at the Pentagon. And as someone who’s about to graduate from college and become an independent citizen, what can I do to help support the effort on the global war on terrorism and to support the Department of Defense in various ways? …

Atta boy, Kirk.

Now, the question about private contractors:

Q Mr. Secretary and General Myers, the recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of private contractors that DOD has used, and I want to know if you see a difference — an inherent difference in our need and the firms’ ability to address that need between logistic contractors and actual military or security contracting firms.

GEN. MYERS: That’s a little abstract for me, but I’ve — seen a difference between two types or contractors or — I haven’t, but then, you know, what I see are results in the field. And what I do know is that we have relied very heavily, because a long time ago we decided to, quote, “outsource” a lot of our capability, and so we rely quite heavily on the private sector and on contractors to do a lot of the work. And whether it’s logistics in Iraq or logistics in Afghanistan, or it’s think tank sort work and analysis that has to go on here in Washington or other major command headquarters, I think we get great service out of these folks.

I’ve just — I’ve had some farewell sessions that I’m doing on the Joint Staff, and I — and we’ve included everybody on the Joint Staff, to include the contractors that we work with every day, that have cubicles, sit with us. And some of the best feedback is from some of those folks — I mean, the sense of responsibility they have for the mission almost indistinguishable between those uniformed people or people that are Department of Defense civilians.

So I think we’ve done a pretty good job. As testimony to this and on the logistics side, General McCaffrey just went, at General Abizaid’s behest, into Iraq to look at the situation. One of his observations when he came back was that our troops in the field are being treated very, very well in terms of, if you will, creature comforts. Of course, one of the reasons for that is that we’ve contracted a lot of that out. And so the meals, the ability to — for showers and all those sorts of things and living conditions, considering their circumstances, are actually most places pretty good. At least that was General McCaffrey’s observations and mine as well.

So I don’t know if I can answer you directly. I — but I think I’ve probably touched on some of the issues you have.

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