Bush Calls Rumsfeld's Leadership 'Exactly What is Needed'
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2006 President Bush reaffirmed his support today for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying the secretary's "energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period."
The president issued a White House statement putting on record that the secretary has his "full support and deepest appreciation."
Bush praised Rumsfeld for his leadership in overseeing difficult missions within the Defense Department during a "historic and challenging time for our nation."
"Upon assuming office, I asked Don to transform the largest department in our government," the president said. "That kind of change is hard, but our nation must have a military that is fully prepared to confront the dangerous threats of the 21st century."
At the same time, as the United States wages the global war on terror, "Don and our military commanders have also been tasked to take the fight to the enemy abroad on multiple fronts," Bush said.
"I have seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions," the president said. It's exactly the kind of leadership the country needs at this critical time, he said.
Bush's endorsement came as several retired generals have taken criticism of Rumsfeld to the media and called for his resignation.
Asked about this during a Pentagon news conference April 11, Rumsfeld said he expects people to have different opinions. "When you're involved in something that's controversial, as certainly this war is, one ought to expect that," he said. "It's historic, it's always been the case, and I see nothing really very new or surprising about it."
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood with Rumsfeld at the podium that day and told reporters, "As far as Pete Pace is concerned, this country is exceptionally well-served by the man standing on my left."
"Nobody works harder than he does to take care of the (privates first class) and lance corporals and lieutenants and the captains. He does his homework. He works weekends, he works nights," Pace said. "People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."