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Rumsfeld Urges Congress to Support Defense Budget Requests

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2006 – U.S. troops serving in the war on terror are giving their all and deserve everything the country can give them to help them succeed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today in urging Congress to pass the fiscal 2007 defense budget and 2006 budget supplemental requests.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Capitol Hill lawmakers that cuts in the funding requested to continue progress in the terror war could cost U.S. taxpayers more in the long run and delay the time when U.S. troops can return home. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad McNeeley, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"The troops have done everything that's been asked of them, and they've done so with courage," Rumsfeld told members of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. "And we owe it to them and to the country that they have sworn to protect to see that we provide the resources and the capabilities that will not only win today's wars, but also best assure peace in the decades ahead."

The proposed budget and supplemental will provide critical funding for the terror war and other missions to U.S. national defense, including the Defense Department's ongoing transformation, Rumsfeld said.

If there was ever any doubt about the need for these changes, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, should have dispelled it for good, he said.

"And today that enemy, though under constant pressure and on the defensive, is still conspiring to bring murder and suicide to our cities," he said. "This long war, this struggle against violent extremists, is a central security issue of our time."

Rumsfeld cited progress in Iraq, which will soon be governed by a permanent national unity government elected under a new Iraqi constitution.

"It's entered a hopeful new phase," he said, expressing faith in Iraq's new leaders who will lead it forward. "They seem to be very serious people who recognize that they have a window of opportunity to make headway on the serious challenges that their nation faces."

These developments make it critical that Congress approve President Bush's full budget supplemental request for operations in the global war on terror, Rumsfeld told the subcommittee.

Delays put the services' operations, maintenance and training accounts at risk and force the services to shift funds from other parts of their budgets.

But the effect goes deeper, and could undermine what Rumsfeld called "truly significant progress in turning over greater responsibility and territory to Iraq's army and police forces."

Cuts in the funding requested to continue this progress will only backfire, costing U.S. taxpayers more in the long run and delaying the time when U.S. troops can return home, he told the subcommittee.

It costs 10 times as much to recruit, train and deploy a U.S. servicemember as an Iraqi soldier, and more than twice as much to sustain a U.S. soldier in the theater, Rumsfeld noted.

But there's a far bigger cost. "Any slowdown in funding for training and equipping the Iraqi security forces has the added harmful effect of postponing the day when our men and women in uniform can continue to pass off more responsibilities to the Iraqis and come home," the secretary said.

Rumsfeld told the committee of a group of active, National Guard and Reserve troops he met two weeks ago at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport. All were returning to Iraq, where they'd already served for six months, after two weeks of rest-and-recuperation leave.

The secretary said he was moved to shake their hands and personally thank them for their service and sacrifice. But he said he was equally moved to watch how other passengers in the airport responded to the troops.

"People there waiting for other airplanes spontaneously clapped and stood up as these folks put their duffle bags on their shoulders and moved to charter flights&to take them back&to Iraq," he said.

Their response shows the American people's high regard for and appreciation of the men and women in uniform, Rumsfeld said.

"It reflects the appreciation and the support for the service that has been manifested by this committee and by the Congress and the people you represent," he told the subcommittee members. "So I thank you for your support in this complex and difficult struggle."

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Donald H. Rumsfeld

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