U.S. Troops 'Combining Latest Technologies With Oldest Virtues'
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
MANAMA, Bahrain, June 10, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. service members at the Naval Support Activity here this evening that they are combining "the latest technologies with the oldest virtues" -- courage, discipline, honor, integrity.
Earlier, he had told sailors aboard the destroyer USS Carney that their work overseas has a certain urgency because of the war on terror.
"While we had 3,000 of our friends and colleagues killed in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center," Rumsfeld said, "if the terrorist organizations get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, the problem will not be 3,000 people killed, but tens of thousands of people killed."
Rumsfeld spoke to sailors aboard the Carney and the mine countermeasures ship USS Dextrous, and at the Naval Support Activity Bahrain on a one-day visit to this tiny, but strategically important, island nation. He also met with the Bahraini crown prince and other government leaders.
He told the sailors the terrorists may not form a typical army, but they are well-trained and well-financed. "Our task is to recognize that it's not possible to defend against something like that," Rumsfeld said. "The only thing we can do is to go find them and to stop them."
At the Desert Dome, an American-style food court at the support activity, Rumsfeld told service members that this war may be different from previous conflicts, but some things will remain the same.
"This war will also end in victory," he said. "And each of you who serve at this time of crisis -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard -- can be proud for as long as you live, and you can be sure that your nation will remember you with gratitude."
The secretary fielded some tough questions from service members here. He was asked and spoke candidly about America's shortcomings in countering enemy propaganda.
"Our country has never been really organized or trained or equipped or suited to doing that very well," Rumsfeld said, admitting that the Bush administration has recognized the problem and is working to correct it.
Rumsfeld said the Taliban were experts in propaganda. They would take injured people out of hospitals to leave at areas coalition forces had bombed to convince the international press and Afghan citizens that U.S. bombs were killing civilians, he said.
"We weren't on the ground where we could in fact prove to people that that wasn't the case," he said. "And so we sat there and took the pounding in the press, and there are a lot of very fine people in this region who would read that and believe it."
But if the Taliban were master propagandists, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is the grandmaster. Rumsfeld called Hussein a "world-class liar." "He is a pro at disinformation," the secretary said of the Iraqi dictator.
His comments reinforced those earlier in the day in a press conference in Kuwait. There, Rumsfeld said Hussein's lying when he's said in recent days that Iraq doesn't have and is not developing weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq has such weapons and continues to "weaponize" chemical agents and to work to develop biological and nuclear weapons, Rumseld said in Kuwait. "I don't know what other kinds of weapons would fall in the group of weapons of mass destruction," he said. "But if there are more, I suspect (the Iraqis are) working on them as well."