Rumsfeld: Recruiting Successes Reflect Troops' Caliber, Commitment
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2006 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today he's encouraged that the military services are exceeding their recruiting targets and called it an indication of the caliber of men and women joining and serving in the armed services.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld responds to a reporter's question during an April 11 Pentagon news conference. Photo by R.D. Ward
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"It is encouraging that so many outstanding young people are continuing to raise their hands and volunteer to serve our country," he told Pentagon reporters.
The secretary referred to recruiting and retention rates released yesterday that show all four services met or exceeded their active-duty recruiting goals in March for the 10th consecutive month. Retention rates also remained high among active-duty troops, and all six reserve components reported solid recruiting and retention efforts.
"The men and women of the United States military protecting our country are serving superbly in many areas of the world, including Iraq," Rumsfeld said today. He noted specific examples in Africa, including the Horn of Africa area, and Afghanistan, all critical to the global war on terror.
"Over the past few years, military units have trained military personnel in Africa in an effort to help those countries deny terrorists safe havens and confront threats before they become crises," Rumsfeld said.
U.S. forces in are deterring potential terrorist recruits in the Horn of Africa through their work with local villagers, he said. The secretary quoted a Marine, who said, "It's hard to recruit terrorists when (the) kids are saying, 'Those are the same people who built schools and played with us.'"
Meanwhile, U.S. forces are working with Afghans and NATO forces to help rebuild that former terrorist safe haven. "Millions of Afghans defied threats of violence to participate in parliamentary elections and the first presidential election they've had in 5,000 years," Rumsfeld said.
One clear sign of Afghanistan's progress is that "Afghans are voting with their feet" and returning home, he said. "Some 3.6 million refugees from around the world have returned to Afghanistan" in what Rumsfeld called one of the world's largest refugee repatriation operations.
"The American people can certainly be proud of the men and women in uniform and what they are accomplishing," Rumsfeld told reporters today. "They are working mightily to keep the American people safe."