Secretary of Defense Rumsfield spoke at the NTC today. It was something of an Army goat rope, as to be expected. They decided to hold it in the basketball courts at the main gymn, which was dressed up, and filled with chairs and bleachers, they must've packed about 800 soldiers, family members and VIPs in there. It was plenty warm, with that crowd in there, to put it mildly.
Very few surprises in the speech. He did say that America's goal in Iraq was..... drum roll..... ....VICTORY, which surprised me a little, usually the administration isn't that straightforward.
The real shocker though, was that he (not once, but twice) stated that the goal of Islamic terrorists was to establish a Grand Caliphate across the Muslim world where all the secular Arab and Muslim states are overturned and unified in a large state ruled by a "small group of clerics".
I have heard and read the Grand Caliphate theory before, but I've never heard it espoused by a high ranking administration official, especially in public, with media present.
I was a little disappointed at one point. An Army wife who's husband is deployed in Mosul with 1/11 ACR asked why all the first hand accounts from soldiers were positive, but all the media coverage was negative. I thought it was a chance for Rummy to call the media on their BS, but he just kind of tap danced around it.
Anyway, it was pretty cool to see Rumsfield up close. Smart guy, but not the greatest speaker.
BTT for the night shift
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Rumsfeld addresses Fort Irwin
By TRAVIS DUNN
FORT IRWIN -- Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke to hundreds of Fort Irwin soldiers here Monday at 2 p.m., in an address largely directed toward critics of the Bush administration's foreign policy.
Rumsfeld, who arrived at Fort Irwin after speaking in St. Louis earlier Monday morning, prefaced his remarks by addressing family members of soldiers, by praising the "important work" done at Fort Irwin, and by honoring the Purple Heart recipients who were seated directly behind the podium. Rumsfeld then spent the bulk of his talk addressing a litany of criticisms.
"It's worth noting that there seems to be some confusion and misunderstanding, at least in certain circles in the United States, about America's place in the world, about the nature of this global war on terror that our country is fighting today," he said. Rumsfeld indicated that this "confusion and misunderstanding" was mainly the media's fault, by focusing too closely on negative events, such as the mistreatment of Iraqis prisoners or waning public support for the Iraq war, rather than on the reconstruction of Iraqi towns or the rising support for democracy among Muslims.
"What seems to be newsworthy are negative things," Rumsfeld said. "The fact that the schools are open, and the hospitals and clinics are open, and they have new textbooks, and there's a stock market, and they have had an election Jan. 30 -- it doesn't compete effectively with the fact that innocent Iraqis are being killed by insurgents and coalition members are being killed and wounded by insurgents and terrorists."
"Then there are the anxious assertions that we've recently heard in Washington," he said. "'We're losing the war,' they say -- that we should withdraw precipitously, and that the situation is worse than Vietnam."
Rumsfeld assured the soldiers that "the same kind of talk was prevalent through the Cold War," but that the nay-sayers were proved wrong.
"It seems to me that that kind of thinking needs to be challenged -- it needs to be raised and talked about and discussed," he said. "So let's be clear: the United States is not losing the war -- the global war against terrorists -- nor are we losing the war in Afghanistan or Iraq. We must not, and we will not retreat. The challenge we face is clear but admittedly difficult. If our enemies obtain the even more lethal weapons that they seek, this war could well escalate to considerably larger numbers than the casualties we saw on Sept. 11."
Rumsfeld made continued comparisons to World War II and the Cold War, and said that rest of the world needs to realize that U.S. military policies today are trying to accomplish similarly noble goals.
He answered critics' questions about the goal in Iraq.
"Your mission is to go on the offense, to go on the attack," he said, "and that's exactly what the U.S. and coalition forces are doing in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They're engaging the terrorists where they live for the simple reason that we do not have to deal with them where Americans live. ... Some may ask specifically what our goal is in this war. Well, you can tell them it's victory -- unapologetic and unyielding victory."
Rumsfeld also took six questions from the audience, ranging from Rumsfeld's experiences as a Princeton wrestler to the redeployment of troops for second or third tours. The latter question drew a smattering of applause from the audience and the shouted comment, "Got him, coach!"
Rumsfeld said that he looks at deployment orders "with a green eyeshade and a microscope" and that "I'd like to know about it" if soldiers were being sent on a third tour unwillingly.
"It's impressive to have the Secretary of Defense come to the NTC (National Training Center)," said Col. Dave Hogg, Commander of the Operations Group at Fort Irwin. "It's a good morale boost. It's good to hear from the man himself versus how it gets interpreted sometimes by the press."
Hogg said he heard Rumsfeld speak once before in Takrit, Iraq.
"The refreshing thing is the Secretary is very consistent and has not wavered a bit," he said. That stance, Hogg said, "builds confidence for the ordinary soldiers."
Fort Irwin Brig. Gen. Robert W. Cone also presented Rumsfeld with a gift -- a physical chunk of Fort Irwin.
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+1 And I hope I have even half his energy when I'm his age.