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Under Secretary of the Army R. L. Brownlee Retirement Ceremony
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Fort Myer, Virginia, Monday, November 29, 2004

Thank you very much.  Troops in the field, the soldiers, wounded soldiers from Walter Reed that are here today, thank you so much for your service, distinguished guests and officials, Chairman John Warner, family and friends of Les Brownlee, I am very pleased to be able to join in paying tribute to this fine leader.


I think it says a great deal about Les Brownlee that here in the audience sit much of the senior leadership of the U.S. government, civilian and military, past and present.  And we certainly thank Secretary Tony Principi for his leadership for the veterans of America and also for his participation here today.  It is good to see you all.


Throughout his life, Les Brownlee has been dedicated to serving our country.  As a highly decorated combat veteran, as has been said, in his service in the United States Congress and most recently in the Department of Defense.  And I think Les would agree that he had a fine leader and tutor on matters related to the country’s defense in the committee’s distinguished chairman, John Warner.


Lester took charge of the Army, as Peter Schoomaker indicated, during a very difficult time in our country’s history.  While the service was transforming for the 21st century, reorganizing the active and reserve components and, indeed, fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the global struggle against extremists.  The tasks before him were enormous, but the results of his contributions have been notable.


And the Army is making solid improvements in jointness and in interoperability.  Soldiers, active, guard and reserve alike have been performing magnificently in Afghanistan and Iraq and throughout the world.  The Army is also helping to train the militaries of other countries around the world, as well as providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.


Indeed, the awards that Secretary Brownlee received from the departments of the Navy and the Air Force reflect his leadership in increasing cooperation with the Army’s sister services.  The morale of the men and women in uniform remains high and they’re determination win this global struggle is an inspiration for us all.  I know firsthand that there are few people who have stood as firmly on the side of our soldiers as has Les Brownlee.  And that has been the great good fortune of the United States Army and our country.


During this holiday season, there’s perhaps no better way to honor Les than to take a moment to pay tribute to the soldiers who are serving our country far from home.  We thank them, we thank their families for their sacrifices and we thank Les Brownlee for giving those troops and our nation such an able and dedicated service for so many decades.


Les, we thank you for your outstanding service.  Godspeed.