Rumsfeld Says Service Members Building 21st Century Military
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., May 18, 2001 U.S. service members are changing the military to meet the threats of the 21st century, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today during Armed Forces Day ceremonies here.
To start the ceremonies for the two-day Joint Service Open House, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry Shelton presented medals to the crew of the Navy EP-3 electronic surveillance aircraft that was hit by a Chinese fighter near Hainan Island March 31.
Members of the EP-3 recon plane hit by a Chinese fighter March 31 salute during Armed Forces Day ceremonies at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. All the crew members received Air Medals for their actions at the ceremony, May 18, 2001. In addition, Navy pilot Lt. Shane Osborn received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Senior Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Mellos received the Meritorious Service Medal. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Standing in front of a Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft, the secretary thanked the crew members for their heroism.
Rumsfeld said military members on duty today serve during an "extraordinary moment of opportunity" and transition. He thanked service members worldwide for their sense of duty.
"You're the ones who wake up each morning and voluntarily put your lives at risk so that all of your fellow citizens can go about their days in peace and freedom," he said. "Whether at any moment you man an EP-3, a ship, a tank or an office, each of you has made a conscious decision to serve."
He said military members work long hours often under arduous conditions, and military families are often separated from each other.
"It's because you stand ready to respond at a moment's notice if any should threaten our country, that our nation is able to contribute to peace and stability in this still dangerous and untidy world," he said. But the threats are changing. With the end of the Cold War, the world has entered a much different era with different adversaries, dynamics and threats.
"The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them pose new challenges," Rumsfeld said. He also named threats from terrorism, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and cyberattacks.
"We may not know precisely who our adversaries may be or precisely what challenges they may pose, but we do know that challenges to freedom are unending," he said. "Your task is to defend your nation against the unknown, the uncertain, the unseen and the unexpected.
"You are building the armed forces for the 21st century that must deter and defend and prevail against the threats of this new era so that we, by our vigilance, can extend the peace well into this new century."
Rumsfeld said this new era requires that service members take new risks, espouse new thinking and embrace new openness.
"Your government must return the honor that you and your families offer through your service, by treating you with the respect, the admiration and the gratitude that you deserve," he said. "That's why President Bush is asking Congress for increased military pay and benefits and housing.
"Our policies must recognize that we no longer have a conscript force of single men, but a proud all-volunteer force made up of men and women with families of single parents and of dual-career couples."
Rumsfeld said that much time is spent debating what the country can afford to spend on the armed forces. "But we don't spend on you, we invest in you," he said. "The men and women of our armed forces aren't a drain on our economic strength; you safeguard it. You're not a burden on our economy; you are the critical foundation of its growth. Our peace dividend comes from the security you provide and the prosperity you make possible."
He said it is thanks to the noble work service members perform that the world is experiencing expanding freedom and growing prosperity. "But as we've learned from history, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance," he said. "The men and women here today and across the globe, stand watch for liberty."
A video clip of the 3rd U.S. Infantry's Fife and Drum Corps performing at the Armed Forces Day ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., is at www.defenselink.mil/multimedia/video/FDC1.ram. The musical unit, part of the Army's The Old Guard of Fort Myer, Va., appeared May 18, 2001. The clip requires RealPlayer to view.