Rumsfeld: 'Joint Operations Will Be Key' in 21st Century
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 17, 2002 Pointing to U.S. combined-arms success against terrorists in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today said joint operations would be the major element of America's 21st century military.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld joins a young man and meets service members May 17 at the 2002 Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Rumsfeld, joined by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior Pentagon officials, kicked off this year's May 17-18 Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., outside Washington.
The secretary noted that visitors "would see men and women and equipment from all of the services of the U.S. military." America's service members, he added, "work together to carry out America's missions around the world. Indeed, joint operations are and will be the key to our success on the battlefield throughout the 21st century."
Rumsfeld noted that America's military today is not only engaged in a global war on terrorism, it's also in the midst of transforming itself to better meet anticipated threats of the future.
"The United States can and will adapt to meet any challenge to peace and to freedom," Rumsfeld said, noting that Andrews' namesake, Lt. Gen. Frank Andrews, "fought for sweeping change that helped to provide for the foundation of our modern Air Force and helped to change the way that wars are fought."
Andrews created and commanded the first overseas combat air forces during World War II, Rumsfeld said, adding that Andrews became the first airman to head a War Department General Staff division in 1939.
In January 1943, Andrews was tabbed to lead the U.S. European Theater of Operations, to direct U.S. air combat operations and planning for American ground forces' invasion of Europe.
"He was the first to lead a joint forces war fighting command in an overseas theater of operation," Rumsfeld said of Andrews, who died in a plane crash in Iceland in May 1943.
Just as America's allies helped achieve victory in World War II, today America has allies in the global war on terrorism, Rumsfeld pointed out. He praised the allied Airborne Warning and Control System crews from 13 countries that had patrolled U.S. airspace from Oct. 9, 2001, until May 16 as part of homeland defense efforts.
That assistance, Rumsfeld noted, was the first time that North Atlantic Treaty Organization assets were deployed in direct support of operations in the continental United States. That support underlined "the strong commitment of NATO in the fight against terrorism," the secretary said. "We appreciate what they've done, we appreciate the people of those NATO countries who enabled them to do that."
When he introduced Rumsfeld, Myers noted that veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom were at the open house. In addition to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, U.S. service members are helping the Philippine authorities address their terrorist threat, keeping the peace in Korea and the Balkans, protecting U.S. airports and seaports.
"Our men and women in uniform really do it all," Myers said. "They're extraordinary and I sincerely hope you're as proud of them as I am. They are well trained, well-led, and well-supported by the American people."
In the battle of Shali Khot valley this March, Army 10th Mountain Division soldiers participated in fighting "that broke the back of the hard core al Qaeda in Afghanistan," said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe, 39, who attended the open house along with other Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.
Brought to battle in Chinook helicopters, Grippe and his 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, troops fought in the cold against an enemy in fortified positions and "brought the war right to the heart of al Qaeda territory" at 10,000 feet above sea level.
"My young men did a wonderful job up there," the sergeant major emphasized, who not surprisingly is an advocate of the need to put "boots on the ground" to achieve success in military operations.
"We have a very well-trained military (and) a very well- trained infantry," Grippe said, adding that America's military has "the most capable combat troops in the world."
Shali Khot, Grippe said, was a combined joint operation that involved U.S. soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors.
"All services were involved," the sergeant major said, "... it was a very intense fight, a lot of aerial bombardment and direct fire from us. It's definitely combined joint operations in Afghanistan -- back then and at the moment. That's why we're being so successful over there."
Pfc. Chad Ryan, 20, one of Grippe's infantrymen, manned a 120 mm mortar system at Shali Khot. He noted the engagement marked the weapon's combat debut.
"I fired it, I returned fire (against al Qaeda troops)," Ryan said, adding that although he was naturally tense in his first combat engagement, his training took over. "There is a certain level of fear ... it's human. But you overcome it. Your training gets you past it."
Over the years, technology, missions and leadership may change, yet one constant remains in the U.S. military -- that is service members' "commitment to duty, and to country," Rumsfeld said.
"You are America's best," he told gathered military members, noting they "work long hours under difficult circumstances and endure separations from wives and husbands and children and families."
Rumsfeld then recalled the promise President Bush had made to the American people immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Rumsfeld quoted Bush: "'We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.'"
The men and women in the U.S. military "are the ones who are delivering on that promise," the secretary said, adding, "And I know, and we all know, that that promise that the President made is in very good hands."
Rumsfeld thanked U.S. service members "for your courage, for your commitment; we thank your families, your wives, husbands, children, and parents for the sacrifices that they too make so that you can do your jobs so very well for all of us. Thank you and May God bless you all."