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Rumsfeld's Praise Inspires Future Military Members

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

INDEPENDENCE, Mo., March 3, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday praised a group of young men and women planning to join the military for pursuing "a noble calling" in their country's service.

During an address at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library here, Rumsfeld told the group of ROTC cadets from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo., that the military offers "absolutely amazing" opportunities for its members.

"You are making an excellent decision," the secretary told the group. He congratulated them for their choice "to be engaged in something you ... and your fellow Americans will know is a noble calling."

The armed forces need smart, innovative members able to think on their feet when faced with challenging situations, Rumsfeld said. Because they face "a thinking enemy" that's able to adapt quickly, U.S. troops must stay a step ahead, he said.

"We have to have people who are trained well enough, confident enough and able to make decisions, ... to watch the enemy and be able to make adjustments," the secretary said.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Little, president of Wentworth Military Academy, said he's reminded regularly that the cadets he's training will face huge challenges if they choose to serve in the military. "They'll be expected to do a heck of a lot more than I did as a second lieutenant," he said. "The decisions they'll make, in many cases, will have strategic importance."

Cadet Drew England, a fourth-year student at Wentworth who expects to serve in Iraq shortly after being commissioned into the Army in December, said he was inspired by Rumsfeld's praise for the armed forces and their missions around the world. "I've been keeping up to date with the news, but he basically solidified everything I've been hearing," England said after hearing the secretary speak.

The Quad Cities, Ill., native served in the Illinois National Guard before enrolling at Wentworth and said many of his former unit members and friends are deployed to Iraq. He appeared certain that the path he has chosen will lead to Iraq, too. But, England said, that possibility never swayed him from wanting to serve in the military. "I knew from the start, deep down inside, that this was me," he said. "When I joined the Army, I felt that this was home."

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