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Rumsfeld, Pace to DoD Workforce: Uncle Sam Needs You

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 – The United States is depending on every one of its Defense Department employees, military and civilian alike, to contribute their talents to winning the war on terror, the defense secretary and top-ranking U.S. military officer said today at a Pentagon town hall meeting.

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reminded the Pentagon town hall audience May 19 that the U.S. has to pressure the terrorists. "We can't just play defense," he said. "We have to play offense. ... We have to go after them and put pressure on them and make everything they do more difficult." Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad McNeeley, USN

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace thanked DoD employees at the Pentagon and watching the session on the Pentagon Channel for the role they're playing in war.

They thanked servicemembers and civilians for their hard work and sacrifice, urged them to focus on how they can help make the United States more secure, and even suggested an effort in which troops returning from Iraq share their experiences with their local communities.

"Thank you for doing what you are doing to support our country and to support the troops," Rumsfeld said. "They are doing a superb job and we are deeply in their debt."

Preventing another terrorist attack against the United States brings an incentive and sense of urgency to the task, the secretary said. He urged members of the DoD workforce to use that as their motivation and to regularly "give a thought to & whatever you're doing (and) what you might do differently or better or faster or harder to prevent that from happening."

Terrorists can attack anytime, anywhere using any technique, "and it is not possible to defend in every location and against every conceivable technique at every moment of the day and night," he said.

That's why the United States is putting pressure on the terrorists. "We can't just play defense," Rumsfeld said. "We have to play offense. We have to go after them, weaken them, and capture and kill them. We have to go after them and put pressure on them and make everything they do more difficult."

The war on terror will be a long struggle that demands perseverance, the secretary said. "The important thing to remember is that it is sticking with something and prevailing that is important."

"The tasks we're facing today are important and serious and difficult," he told the group.

"We have a big task ahead of us, (and) I am grateful for what all of you do," he said, acknowledging that "every one of you is here because you want to be here."

As they continue toward that task, Pace urged audience members to look past what some perceive as slanted news coverage that emphasizes negative stories. Don't get frustrated by television news minutes "allocated to the bomb that went off because it's more news(worthy) than the school or road that was built," he said.

"Understand that environment, and then determine to get out to the American people in as many ways as you can," Pace said. He encouraged military leaders to get out to universities and into their communities to share their own personal stories and all military members to "be available to our fellow citizens in as many ways as we can."

To promote this effort, Pace suggested a program modeled on ones the Marine Corps and Army use to support local military recruiters. In the program Pace envisions, troops just back from Iraq would get extra days tacked on to their block leave to spend in their hometowns sharing their firsthand experiences with local organizations.

"They can pick the group - church group, whatever group they are comfortable talking to - and simply in their own words explain to those people in that group what their personal experience is like," Pace said. "Let's get our guys and gals home on leave and let them go out in their communities and talk. Let's not say, 'Woe is me. We're not getting the coverage.' Let's figure out how to get the word out to the American people."

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Donald H. Rumsfeld
Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld makes a point during the Pentagon town hall meeting May 19. After remarks to servicemembers and civilians, he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace took questions. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad McNeeley, USN  
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