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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rumsfeld Holds Town Hall Meeting

Aired March 6, 2003 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're going to go to the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld holding a town hall meeting with Pentagon employees. Let's listen in.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... will be more likely, very likely more deadly than at any time in modern history.

Notwithstanding the successes that our country's had and our coalition has had -- a giant coalition of some 90 nations -- in this global war and the good work that has been done, we're still not yet arranged to deal successfully with this new security environment.

We entered the century really arranged to fight big armies, big navies and big air forces, not to fight the shadowy terrorists and terrorist networks that operate with the support and assistance of terrorist states.

And that's why we're so focused on transforming the department and the armed services. To win the global war on terror, the armed forces simply have to be more flexible, more agile, so that our forces can respond more quickly.

But the same is true of the men and women who support the forces in the Department of Defense. We also need to be more flexible and more agile. We also need freedom -- the freedom to move resources and to shift people and design and buy new weapons more rapidly so that this great department can, in fact, respond to the changes in our security environment.

Today, we still do not yet have that agility. In an age where terrorists move information at the speed of an e-mail and money at the speed of a wire transfer and people at the speed of a commercial jetliner, the Defense Department is still bogged down to too great an extent in the micromanagement and bureaucratic processes of an earlier era.

Consider just a few of the obstacles we face each day. This department spends an average of $42 million an hour, and yet we're not allowed to move $15 million from one account to another without getting permission from four to six committees, a process that sometimes takes months.

Think of the fiscal year 2004 defense budget.

It was developed by many of the people in this room from the period probably of March of '02 to December of '02. It was then sent to the Office of Management and Budget for consideration between December of '02 and February of '03, last month, when the president presented it to the Congress.

Congress will be considering it from February of '03 probably until October or November of '03, and, as in the past, probably making 10 to 20 percent changes in what was recommended.

DOD will then try to live with what's left during the period between October of '03 to September of '04.

That means that at any given time during the fiscal year of that budget, it will be between 14 to 30 months old while we are trying to implement what Congress provides us.

KAGAN: We've been listening in to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is holding one of his regular town hall meetings with Pentagon employees. We are going to keep listening to that.

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