SEC. GATES: (In progress) -- and then after we're through here, I want to shake each and every one of your hands and give you a coin and just be able to tell you personally thank you.
I know you all have had a rough go of it, taken a lot of losses. And I just want you to know that we're paying attention back home. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. What you're doing is incredibly important; getting these Afghans trained up so they can do the job is incredibly important.
We know that being apart from your families at this time of year is even tougher, and I hope that the next time you're in touch with them, e-mail or whatever, that you give them my personal thanks for their sacrifice and their support to you.
This is kind of personal for me; I'm the guy who signed the orders that sent you here. And so I feel a personal responsibility for each and every one of you. And the first priority that I've had ever since I took this job four years ago is making sure that you have what you need to do your job, to succeed in your mission and to come home safely. And I feel responsible for each and every one of you. And I just want to thank you again personally, tell you we know how hard this is, but it's worth it.
This is an important mission; it really is important and about defending our own country. If we don't fight these guys on their 10 yard line, we'll have to fight them on our 10 yard line. So I just want to thank you and I'll end the speech with that. And unless somebody has a question they just can't wait to ask, we'll go ahead and start taking some pictures.
Anybody? All right, let's get some pictures.