Pace Lauds Rumsfeld; Rumsfeld Expresses Confidence in Gates
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2006 Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took today’s Pentagon town hall meeting as an opportunity to praise the drive, energy, courage and loyalty Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld brought to his position.
Pace shared his thoughts just before Rumsfeld told Pentagon employees he has “every confidence” in incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The chairman, speaking at Rumsfeld’s 42nd and last town hall meeting as defense secretary, called Rumsfeld’s work ethic incredible.
“Is he demanding?” Pace said. “You bet. If you haven’t done your homework when you walk into the secretary’s office, you’re not going to have a good day.”
But Rumsfeld is more demanding on himself than anyone else, the chairman said. “And we have benefited enormously from the drive and energy that he has instilled in this organization from top to bottom, starting with his own daily work ethic and how he does his job,” Pace said.
After almost 40 years in uniform, the chairman said he’s come to appreciate two kinds of courage. In addition to the concept of courage in combat that military members exhibit, “there’s also the courage it takes to speak one’s mind”, he said.
In meetings that Rumsfeld participates in -- forums in which “there are no shrinking violets” -- the secretary has demonstrated the courage to disagree with how others think and to explain his reasons, Pace told the audience. These insights have sometimes changed, not just the course of a conversation, but “quite literally, the course that our country has taken,” he said.
“That kind of courage is rare,” the chairman said. “And we who serve in the military and in this department have benefited enormously through the courage that our secretary has shown in those meetings.”
Pace also praised Rumsfeld’s sense of loyalty -- not just up the chain of command, but also down the chain, to the 2.4 million U.S. servicemembers on active duty and in the reserves and National Guard.
Even in those rare occasions when servicemembers step out of line or do “something stupid,” Rumsfeld never tries to dodge blame, Pace said.
“Not once,” he said -- repeating “not once” for emphasis – “when folks have laid at the feet of our secretary the blame for something that has gone wrong, not once has he done anything other than accept the responsibility,” Pace said. “He has never tried to deflect that to any subordinate, even though it was a subordinate's responsibility.”
Pace told today’s audience he’s come to admire Rumsfeld’s integrity and his willingness to share other people’s opinions, even if they differed from his own.
“It takes enormous integrity to have the kind of strength of conviction that the secretary has to drive to the conclusion that he believes is correct and, at the same time, ensure that the decision maker has in front of him or her all of the information and all of the various ideas,” the chairman said.
Rumsfeld, when asked at about incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said he believes Gates will bring solid leadership to DoD. “I've had two meetings with him, and we've had a good discussion on a variety of things,” Rumsfeld said. “The senior folks in the department have been briefing him.”
Rumsfeld noted that everyone has different qualities and leadership styles.
“He'll do a good job,” he said of Gates. “He'll come in and he'll find a way to begin the process of serving as secretary of defense in a way that fits his background and the needs of the current time. And I've got every confidence that he'll do a terrific job.”