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Marshall Center Celebrates 10 Years of Transatlantic Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

GARMISCH, Germany, June 11, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke of the importance of international security cooperation at a joint American- German celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies today.

Vice President Dick Cheney who as U.S. defense secretary sponsored the idea of the center sent videotaped greetings to the center's faculty and students.

In the tape Cheney explained the rationale behind the center. "Ten years ago East European and Eurasian nations were undergoing broad and far-reaching transformations," he said. "The need to reach out to these emerging democracies was clear, and the Marshall Center fulfilled that need."

He said the original thought was to help former Warsaw Pact nations learn how the military functions in a democracy. But with changing times, the mission of the center has changed.

"As all of you know, the world has changed profoundly over the last 10 years. The Cold War is over, but freedom-loving nations are being tested once again, this time by terrorist networks, terrorist states and the spread of weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said.

The Marshall Center has changed its curricula to match the new threats. "No one can predict how long the war on terror will last, but its outcome is not in doubt: The forces of freedom will prevail," Cheney noted in his taped message.

Rumsfeld said he was pleased to be at the Marshall Center to mark the historic joint U.S.-Germany effort "to strengthen the transatlantic alliance and to extend it deep into the heart and soul of Eurasia."

A total of 13 defense ministers from across Europe attended the ceremony including one the Defense Minister of Georgia who was a graduate of the Marshall Center. The center is named after the late U.S. general and statesman recognized as the architect of the U.S. assistance plan for post-World War II Europe.

Some 49 nations have sent students through the center's doors. Rumsfeld pinpointed their contributions to the global war on terrorism. For example, 35 sent representatives to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Thirty-three of these nations participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 28 are contributing troops or other assistance to Iraq today. He pointed out that 29 nations are helping with security and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

The secretary said that many smaller, less fortunate nations of Europe are making "outsized" contributions to the war on terrorism. He said that even as those nations rebuild, "they have had the vision to look outward as well."

Rumsfeld spoke about the transatlantic alliance and the future of the relationship. He said that President Truman called the founding of NATO in 1949 "a neighborly act." Rumsfeld said it has become more than neighborly it is much like a family. He said more than just common interests tie the North Atlantic community together.

"We're united by ties of blood and purpose and a common heritage of liberty and democratic self-government," he said. "Ties that have been forged in war and sealed in struggle.

"And like a family, sometimes we don't agree on everything," he continued. "Sometimes we have debates and discussions. But when challenged, we need to come together as we did after September 11th."

Rumsfeld praised the addition of new members to NATO. "The addition of each new nation brings new energy and new perspective to the alliance," he said.

He said that the distinction between old and new in Europe is not a matter of age, but of attitude, and the vision that each country brings to the transatlantic relationship.

"Many nations in Europe but not all see the nexus of terror and weapons of mass destruction as a very serious threat and recognize that transatlantic unity is more critical than ever if we collectively are able to deal with those threats," the secretary said.

"Most see the value of a robust transatlantic relationship. It is, I believe, compatible with European integration. It certainly is critical to our mutual security and to the success of our common interests."

The secretary said that countries that recently experienced oppression are more willing to recognize these new threats and to choose to invest in military capabilities to counter these threats. The new countries that have been invited to join NATO are not junior partners, the secretary said; they are full members of the organization and often find themselves leading portions of the alliance.

For example, Rumsfeld said, "Poland is preparing to lead one of the divisions in Iraq a 7,000-man force that will probably be comprised of forces from some 12 countries."

He also singled out Romania, which was one of seven countries invited to join NATO in 2002, "has an infantry battalion deployed to Afghanistan and plans to deploy another to Iraq." And he mentioned that Albania, where he had just visited June 10 with that nation's defense officials to discuss its desire to become a full-fledged member of NATO, has forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The secretary said that the allies must work more closely today, "because the threats we face in the 21st century are of a nature that really no nation can face them alone," he said.

The secretary used arms proliferation and North Korea as an example. North Korea is "the world's foremost proliferator of ballistic missile technology," he said. North Korea has also stated that it may sell nuclear weapons and materials.

"If free nations do not come to grips with the proliferation issue, it is possible that not so many years from now we could be living in a world with up to twice the number of nuclear powers and the reality that a number of the new nuclear powers could be terrorist states."

Rumsfeld said the world needs new tools to deal with this threat. This includes authority to stop transactions in WMD capabilities and the willingness to strengthen regional and worldwide security cooperation.

The secretary said the world faces two challenges as it confronts the threats of the 21st century: First, leaders must strengthen states so they can effectively govern their territories. Second, leaders "must strengthen and reform institutions that facilitate multinational action" such as NATO and the alliance's Partnership for Peace program.

"For a decade now, the Marshall Center has produced leaders who are willing to make these changes happen," Rumsfeld said. "I have confidence that, with your vision and commitment, our successors a decade from now will be able to look back and say that free people rose to meet the challenges of a still dangerous and untidy world."

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