Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pentagon Holds First Worldwide Town Hall Meeting

Today's Town Hall meeting with Rumsfeld and Myers was broadcast world wide with questions taken via DoD's webpages.

Here's a green-eye shade question from a fellow bean-counter. Fox played the tail end on the news tonight.

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.)

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