Rumsfeld 'Saddened' by Attacks on DoD Efforts
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he is "truly saddened" that anyone could have the impression "that I or others here are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible."
Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers held a news conference at the Pentagon today.
The remarks came after a tough time for the secretary politically. First, critics jumped on an Army specialist's question to Rumsfeld about having to scrounge armor to put on Humvees. Second, the secretary was stung by a news story pointing out that he did not personally sign all condolence letters to the families of those killed in the global war on terrorism.
"I hope and pray that every family member of those who have died so bravely knows how deeply I feel their loss," he said. "When I meet with the wounded, with their families, or with the families of those who have been lost, their grief is something I feel to my core. And I should add -- and the American people need to know -- that the strength of our military and of their families is amazing. It is truly extraordinary to see it and to feel it. It never fails to give me strength, to give me encouragement, and to give me inspiration for the tasks ahead.
Rumsfeld emphasized the degree of his feelings toward the men and women of the armed forces. "I, and I know others, stay awake at night with concern for those at risk, with hope for their lives and for their success," he said. "And I want those who matter most -- the men and women in uniform and their families -- to know that. And I want them to know that we consider them -- the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines -- to be America's true treasure, and I thank them and I thank their families."
The secretary said the troops have inspired him in his ability to do his job in the face of the criticism he has faced. "You get up in the morning and you think about what our troops are doing, and I must say, if they can do what they're doing, I can do what I'm doing," he said.