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Rumsfeld Says JTF-O Earning 'Gold Medal' for Performance

By Staff Sgt. Jeffory S. Mulcahy, USAFR
National Guard Bureau

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 21, 2002 – Visiting with troops assigned to the Joint Task Force - Olympics here, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the service provided by the JTF-O has been a 'gold medal' performance.

Rumsfeld, along with JTF-O Commander Army Brig. Gen. J.D. Johnson and Utah Governor Mike Levitt, took time Feb. 20, to meet troops at the Great Basin Life Support Area, one of eight locations in which military people are being housed and fed during their stay here. The troops are working in support of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command.

Nearly 5,000 service members representing all branches of the services and from the active, reserve and Guard components make up JTF-O.

The service members are providing aviation, communications, explosive ordnance detection/disposal, physical security, and temporary facilities support.

After touring the facility, Rumsfeld addressed the nearly 300 service men and women, and media representatives in attendance.

At one point in the question-and-answer period that followed, the secretary made reference to Special Forces. At the mention of the Special Forces, loud Army "whoops" echoed through the cafeteria.

"Oh, we got some partisans here!" Rumsfeld said. "Way to go! Let's all do it for the Special Forces!" Again, the "whoops" erupted.

The secretary was also asked about the $310 million spent on defense for the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games, and whether, financially, "is this the beginning or the end?" "I would not think that the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City would be characterized as the ending of having to invest in security, homeland security, or in the war on terrorism," Rumsfeld said. "This is an important world event. And you're right; we have more people in Utah participating in this Joint Task Force - Olympics and various aspects of it than we do in Afghanistan. And we have that, because it's such an important event, and because we want to make sure it's a safe event for the world.

The secretary said America is fortunate to have such freedoms and opportunities. "And what we do in providing for our security and contributing to peace and stability in the world is what makes those freedoms and those opportunities possible for us and for the other people in the world," he said.

"And the money we spend (here) is an investment in preserving those freedoms," Rumsfeld added.

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