Remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld to Troops at the Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team Headquarters
(Opening greeting inaudible)
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know the current numbers, but hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have returned to this country. They've voted with their feet and come back to Afghanistan from places that they had fled during the difficult years. The economy in the country is moving forward, the international community is providing support. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the first time in history has assumed a responsibility -- this is an alliance that we've been a member of from the 1950s and it has never assumed a responsibility outside of a NATO treaty area and outside of Europe in its entire existence -- and it has undertaken to bring into Afghanistan NATO forces. All 26 countries will be participating in one way or another, plus NATO Partnership for Peace nations participating because they are convinced that this is important and that it's possible to do and it is being done.
And thanks to the coalition forces, to you, all of you who all volunteered -- not one was drafted, not one was conscripted. And when you think about that, it means that people in our country -- all of you -- decided that this was important to serve your country. You're here doing it and you're doing it successfully -- enormously successfully.
You're going to read in the press every day anything at all that someone can find that isn't right, that isn't perfect, that isn't happening exactly the way one might like it to happen. And if you add all that up, the picture looks bleak, the picture looks dark, the picture looks not doable, and you'll hear people say that it's not doable. Well, it is doable. You're doing it -- and you can all be darn proud that you're doing it -- for the rest of your lives.
Now, we have some people, some of you reenlist. Who's going to reenlist? And then there's some awards. Do you want to bring them all out? Let's do it. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: On April 18th, 2006, PFC James Allen, a passenger, and PFC Lewis Acevedo, a gunner, were on patrol when their vehicle struck a pressure-plated IED causing injuries to both soldiers. Both soldiers received multiple injuries, including lacerations, burns and bruises.
Attention to orders: to all who shall see these presents, greetings. This is to certify that the president of the United States of America has awarded the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington at Newburgh, New York, August 7th, 1782, to the following individuals: Private First Class Lewis D. Acevedo; Private First Class James W. Allan Jr. (Applause.)
On May 2nd, 2006, Task Force Warrior tasked soldiers to destroy a cache of 100 cases of -- (word inaudible) -- rounds, grenades, and 82mm mortar rounds located in the vicinity of Khaki, Afghanistan. Specialist Eddie Tavares (ph) from Texas and Staff Sergeant Richard Gazelle (ph) from Maryland were part of the explosive ordinance explosive team conducting the mission. Also a part of this operation was Sergeant Major Kevin Watson from Pennsylvania. In the evening hours, after arriving at the cache location, the soldiers received small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, which was intended to disrupt the success of the mission at hand.
These soldiers engaged the enemy with small-arms fire and coordinated heavy machine gun fire to engage the enemy. Five insurgents known to be part of the Taliban broke contact and these soldiers proceeded to successfully complete the mission. Sergeant Major Watson recommended these two brave soldiers to receive this award for following through with the mission in the midst of enemy contact. (Applause.)
Combat Action Badge is awarded to Tavares (ph), Eddie, Specialist -- Gazelle, Richard, Staff Sergeant. (Applause.)
The Combat Infantryman's Badge is awarded to Sergeant Major Kevin A. Watson.
The secretary of defense will now administer the oath of reenlistment to Specialist Jason Frezhay (ph).
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