[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Rumsfeld doubts on terror war
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gestures at the Nato meeting
Rumsfeld questions the success of the war on terror

A leaked internal memo by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the US faces what is described as a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The memo, which was sent to the Pentagon's senior civilian and military leaders last week and was first reported in the USA Today newspaper, also questions if the US really knows whether it is winning the war on terrorism.

Posing a number of challenging questions, the memo says the record against the al-Qaeda network is mixed, and suggests the US does not have the right mechanisms to know whether it is capturing, killing or deterring more terrorists than are being recruited.

US officials have played down the significance of the document, saying the defence secretary was merely sounding out senior colleagues on long-term issues.

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Larry Di Rita, the Pentagon's acting spokesman and a special assistant to Mr Rumsfeld, confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but said it was intended to prompt Pentagon leaders to look beyond Iraq and Afghanistan at the larger picture of the war on terrorism, AFP news agency reports.

"These are clearly big questions that deserve big thinking," Mr Di Rita told reporters.

But the BBC's Pentagon correspondent, Nick Childs, says the memo is likely to lead to new questions in Congress and elsewhere about the Bush administration's policy in pursuing the war on terror.

Mr Rumsfeld argues that the Pentagon has yet to make "any truly bold moves", that it is not possible to transform it fast enough to fight the new war and that a new institution either inside or outside the Pentagon may be needed.

Mr Rumsfeld cited "mixed results" against the al-Qaeda network blamed for the 2001 attacks, "reasonable progress" in tracking down top Iraqis and "somewhat slower progress" in capturing Taleban leaders in Afghanistan.

Recipients of the document included chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force General Richard Myers, and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

The BBC's Michael Buchanan reports from Washington
"Both the White House and the Pentagon have played it down"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific