hadn’t changed for 50 years. A NATO that’s beenreinvigorated -- which takes a lot of effort, a lot of intellectual energy, which the Secretary brought to that. So I think as you sit there and think about are we better prepared today to meet the uncertainties of tomorrow, in my view, you can say yes, and a large part of that is the hard work, the perseverance of Secretary Rumsfeld.
The second thing I’d like to talk about is the Secretary’s relationship with the senior military. Here again, I think the pundits get it absolutely wrong. And I don’t know why they do. But bits of information put together without context usually doesn’t bring much meaning, and we’ve had a lot of that lately.
I’ll make a couple of statements here that I think are statements of fact. I have worked with several secretaries of defense. I have never worked with one that has spent more time with the senior military leadership than this Secretary of Defense. More time. In fact, he used to quip that he spent more time with me than he spent with his wife Joyce during the waking hours. And I think that is absolutely another fact.
The president yesterday talked about the Secretary’s loyalty to him. Another thing that’s not understood or talked about is the Secretary’s loyalty down the chain of command, which he is squarely in. I remember as (Army) General (Tommy) Franks left the office to go to the Middle East to begin combat operations in Iraq, it was one of the more poignant moments. It was General Franks, Secretary Rumsfeld and myself, as I recall the only three in the office, maybe the military assistant was there as well, and the Secretary said, “Well, we’ve done all the planning. We’ve been planning for over a year. The president’s given us his decision, and win, lose or draw, we’re all in this together and we’ll stand together as we take on this adversary.”
He has had many opportunities to deflect the arrows coming his way to the military. Many opportunities. He’s never taken one of those opportunities. If you go back and read a little bit about Abu Ghraib and people wanting to place blame, it would have been easy for the Secretary of Defense to deflect it to the Department, to individuals. He never did that. He sucked up all those arrows and continued to lead the Department in the way that he knew was right.
So it is my honor to introduce a very dedicated public servant. A man who has the greatest of integrity, and who has, I believe, led the Department from the Cold War, shook off all those old vestiges, and brought us into the 21st Century. A tough man. The Secretary of Defense of the United States of America. Secretary Don Rumsfeld.