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Rumsfeld Talks About Current Events, Transformation, Troop Support

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2005 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld discussed tsunami relief efforts in South Asia, the situation in Iraq, military transformation and Americans supporting the troops during radio interviews from the Pentagon Jan. 4.

Rumsfeld told WIBC radio in Indianapolis that myriad U.S. Navy ships, military aircraft, supplies and 15,000 U.S. servicemembers have been dispatched to South Asia to provide assistance to the Dec. 26 tsunami victims. A substantial DoD humanitarian aid effort is under way for people in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and elsewhere stricken by the tsunami, estimated to have killed 150,000. President Bush pledged $350 million for relief efforts.

On WTKF in Jacksonville, N.C., the secretary saluted the men and women in uniform providing disaster aid to tsunami victims, noting their relief efforts represent an "amazing" accomplishment.

"If you look at the front pages of many papers," the secretary pointed out, "you'll see pictures of U.S. military personnel rescuing people, delivering food and water, assisting with emergency medical types of assistance."

On Iraq, Rumsfeld told WBAP radio in Dallas-Fort Worth that the current task of the U.S. military is to "work with the Iraqi security forces to see that together the environment is such that an election can be held." Nationwide Iraqi elections are slated Jan. 30.

Although a minority of insurgents wants to derail Iraq's elections and its move toward democracy, the vast majority of Iraqis want to participate in the voting, Rumsfeld pointed out, noting, "They want to have an election."

And while the recent increased insurgent violence was expected to occur in the days and weeks leading up to the elections, the secretary indicated there are enough U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces including about 150,000 U.S. troops serving in and around Iraq to handle anticipated threats.

Besides engaging terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and providing humanitarian relief to tsunami victims, Rumsfeld noted that the military is simultaneously transforming the capabilities of its forces. That transformation, the secretary explained, is designed to produce "a more agile force, a more rapidly deployable force, a force that's armed and equipped with more precision instruments rather than 'dumb' bombs or less-precise weapons."

Iraq, Rumsfeld pointed out, represents a test case for the transforming U.S. military, where insurgents are using suicide bombers and other unconventional weapons such as improvised explosive devices against U.S. forces, because they cannot defeat the American military in an old-style, stand-up fight.

The secretary said U.S. military members are volunteers "and that they sacrifice, to be sure, let there be no doubt," adding, "they put their lives at risk, and their families serve as well."

U.S. servicemembers and their families "are doing noble work," Rumsfeld emphasized. Americans who want to help support U.S. military members and their families, he said, can access the department's "America Supports You" Web site.

"You can't talk to those families," Rumsfeld said, "and not feel their strength and the inspiration that they feel, and the confidence and pride they have in the servicemembers."

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

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