Rumsfeld's last visit to troops as SECDEF

As reported in an American Forces Press Service article today, outgoing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq on Saturday.  He told the 1200 Soldiers and Marines assembled at Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province that
"the true strength of the US military is not in Washington, not in the Pentagon, not in the weapons.  It's in the hearts of the men and women who serve.  It's your patriotism, your professionalism, and indeed your determination." 
Referring as he has in previous speeches to the vital issues of national will and perseverance, Rumsfeld talked about a young man he met at Bethesda Naval Hospital recovering from wounds received in Iraq who told him;
"If the American people will only give us the time, we can do it. We're getting the job done." 
Rumsfeld then added: "The consequences of failure are unacceptable."  

Indeed they are.  Closing out his remarks, the Medal of Freedom recipient who has made numerous visits to the troops in Iraq
told the service members they serve a nation that is the greatest force for good the world has ever known. "America is not what's wrong with the world," he said. "Violent extremists - those who kill innocent men, women and children - they are what is wrong with this world."
He said the campaign against terrorism is the most complex and difficult on record and the struggle is unlike any other campaign the United States has fought in. The war on terror will be more like the Cold War - a 50-year sustained effort against an ideology - than World War II - a conflict that pitted armies and navies and air forces against one another, he said.
"Because this conflict is new and unfamiliar and complex, it is understandable that there will be differences about the direction our country should take," he said. "These public debates may be heated or even nasty. But that's not new ... I can say that it has always been so, and particularly so during wartime.
"But we ought not confuse the political debate that takes place at home with a wavering of support or appreciation for your service or your achievements," he continued.
The American people have a good center of gravity, the secretary said. Elections and polls may tilt one way or another, but over time free people given sufficient information find their way to right decisions, he said.

The secretary told servicemembers history will show that after America was attacked, hundreds of thousands of young men and women stepped forward to wear their nation's uniform.
"[These were] talented young people who could have done something else - something easier, something safer," he said. "But instead they volunteered to defend our country.
"You are those men and women," he continued. "You are the ones who took up the fight against the extremists far from home to prevent them from attacking our families, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. For your service, your sacrifice and for the professionalism and the dedication you demonstrate every day, you have my profound admiration and my deep and everlasting respect.
"It has been the honor of my life to serve with you, and I will never forget it; I will treasure it always."
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