Service Will Benefit Generations to Come, Rumsfeld Tells Troops
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
BALAD, Iraq, July 27, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld saluted soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen serving in Iraq and around the world during a town meeting here today.
Servicemembers stationed at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, listen attentively as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addresses them at a July 27 town meeting. Photo by Spc. Laura E. Ruscio, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Rumsfeld arrived in Baghdad this morning for an operational update from senior U.S. commanders as well as top Iraqi government and military leaders.
"Thanks to you, the terrorists are far from achieving their goals" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the secretary told about 500 U.S. servicemembers gathered comfortably for the town hall meeting in a building insulated from Iraq's blast-furnace-like July heat.
The deadline for drafting a new Iraqi constitution is Aug. 15, Rumsfeld said, noting that he believes terrorist attacks in Iraq may increase between now and September, when the constitution is voted on, and in October, when new elections are held. In coming weeks and months, terrorists may increase their attacks and try to make life more difficult for American troops serving in Iraq and for Iraqi citizens, Rumsfeld said. Yet, American servicemembers know they are performing a noble mission in Iraq and Afghanistan "that will benefit future generations of Americans to be sure," he added.
Tactics such as using suicide bombers indicate "a sign of weakness" and desperation on the part of terrorists, Rumsfeld said. And terrorist leaders, he noted, simply offer death to their followers. Terrorists hate peace and democracy, and they must be confronted and defeated, Rumsfeld said.
Earlier in the day, Rumsfeld watched Iraqi Special Forces troops undergo antiterrorism training at a site near Baghdad International Airport. The Iraqis blew down doors and then charged into darkened rooms to engage shadowy targets.
Rumsfeld, accompanied by Iraqi Defense Minster Sadoun al-Dulaymi, Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, and other senior U.S. and Iraqi officials, addressed the Iraqi commandos and praised their courage and expertise. Through their efforts and those of U.S. and coalition forces, the terrorists will fail, Rumsfeld told them.
One servicemember at the town hall asked Rumsfeld how to convince the U.S. public that America needs to remain committed to battling terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.
"You are making progress," Rumsfeld told the gathered troops, noting that increased pressure is being put on terrorist networks worldwide. Yet, terrorists can attack at any time, the secretary pointed out.
That's why "our task is to go after them," Rumsfeld said, "wherever they are."