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Town Hall Meeting
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Fort Hood, Texas, Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Goodness gracious!  Thank you!   Thank you very much!  That is breath taking.  I wish that every one of you could individually go to the back of that room and then walk in here to that kind of a greeting because each of you deserve that, and I thank you very much.

General Bell, thank you.  Where'd you go?

There he is!  I like to keep track of where people are.  I want to know who's behind my back, that's what I want!

Where's the governor?  Is the governor here?  Not here.

Where is Congressman Edwards?  Is he here?  Did he make it?  Congressman, we welcome you.  It's nice to be in your area.  And thank you so much for being with us.

Members of the Texas Senate and the Texas House, I understand some of you are here.  Where are they?  Thank you.  We thank you so much for your support of this post and the folks, the men and women and the families here, and we do want you to know that we appreciate it.

Mayor Jouett -- is Mayor Jouett here?

Thank you.  I can't really say "Welcome" to you, but you could say "Welcome to me, " so -- pleased to be here.

And above all, thank you to the Phantom Warriors, all of you.

I just left the President, in Crawford, and had a terrific meeting.  We talked a great deal about the Defense Department, the transformation of this institution, the important role it's playing today, the important service that each of you are engaged in.  He also asked me to thank those of you who are involved in supporting the Texas Crawford White House, which he appreciates.  I know a number of your folks are there.

You have earned your reputation as America's hammer -- home to 3rd Corps and some of the most highly respected warriors in the world and, as I'm told that General Bell likes to note, innovative, resourceful and courageous; ready to deploy and prepared to win.  And for that, we thank you.

When the President sends you off, the enemy knows that our country is serious about a mission.  You've not only supported Operation Noble Eagle here at home but Operation Enduring Freedom overseas.  And I appreciate the truly outstanding job that you folks have done across the board.  I understand that some of you have also been deeply involved in guarding some of the al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, both in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo Bay.  And for that, we thank you also.

I understand that members of both the 64th and the 401st MPs are recently returned from Afghanistan and Cuba and are here today in the office -- in the audience.  And we thank you for the fine job you've done.

And there's another serious and important way that you folks are supporting the war on terrorism, and that's through transformation.  I remember on September 11th and shortly thereafter I was asked frequently whether or not we could really continue to try to transform the Department of Defense if we were engaged in a global war against terrorism.  And an awful lot of folks said, "You really can't do both; you have to concentrate on the one and set the other aside for a period.”  Not so.  We not only can do both, we have to do both.  We are in a new security environment, and unless we transform this institution, why, we will not be able to provide the security for the American people that it's our job to do.

I'm frequently asked to describe transformation, and I can say this.  Transformation is not a single thing to be trotted out and looked at and inspected.  Simply put:

  • Transformation is change.
  • It's change in the way we fight,
  • In the way we train,
  • In the way we exercise, but especially,
  • It's a change in the way we think and how we approach our jobs.

Changes:

  • In doctrine,
  • In training,
  • In organization,
  • In the way we develop leaders, and, most important,
  • In the way all of the services work together.

When soldiers stopped marching into enemy fire shoulder-to-shoulder, that was transformation.  When armored vehicles replaced mounted cavalry and when automatic weapons replaced single-shot rifles, that was transformation.  Precision-guided munitions rather than carpet-bombing a battlefield, another example of transformation.

But single examples in individual services really are not enough.  We must think and act and fight jointly, and that's what Millennium Challenge was about.  And I know that you -- General Bell, and the folks in this room played an important and leading role in that activity.  It took thousands of people from all across the services -- placed them in situations where they were required to think joint, to be joint, to focus on goals that were not service-centric.  And that's quite a change.  In the past, the Navy stayed on the water, the Army on the land, the Air Force covered bombardment, and the Marines were off working the problem elsewhere.

Those days are gone.  They can't -- it will not work anymore for us to think of charging off in a service-centric way.  Tomorrow our heavy forces will be lighter, our light forces must be more lethal, and all must be easier to deploy.  It will be a force that will not only be interoperable, but responsive, agile and capable of capitalizing on the revolution in information and the advances in technology which were taking place every year.  You're leading the Army's transformation effort in that regard.  It's important work.  And as the war on terrorism continues, you're going to be called upon to do even more.

We face an evil that can't be appeased; as the President said, it cannot be ignored, and it must not be allowed to prevail.  As he said in June at West Point,

"We will not leave the safety of the American people and peace on this planet to the mercy of terrorists and tyrants.  We will lift this dark threat from our country and the world."

You are serving at a unique time.  It is a momentous mission, and your role is critically important, let there be no doubt.  We're proud of your service, we're grateful to you, and I should add, looking around this audience, we're grateful to your families.  We know that they too serve, and we value your service.

Now, who has some questions?

For a complete transcript, including questions and answers, please visit:

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t08212002_t0821sd.html