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SECDEF visits MacDill, addresses military concerns

by Staff Sgt. Robin Drake
Thunderbolt staff writer
Photo by Airman 1st Class Bradley Lail

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addresses questions during a town-hall meeting at the Davis Conference Center here Tuesday. He answered questions from servicemembers on issues from hurricane relief to the Global War on Terrorism

Warm and sunny weather welcomed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to MacDill Tuesday. He spent several hours meeting with top-ranking officials from U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and conducting a base-wide town hall meeting at the Davis Conference Center.

Secretary Rumsfeld opened his remarks by speaking on the respect and admiration he has for servicemembers, and for what they do on a daily basis.

"We fight today so that our children and their children might not have to experience the heartbreak of something like Sept. 11. As the men and women in uniform, you and your associates all across the globe are displaying resolute courage, behind the courage that defined our country through the generations. I am deeply grateful to you," said Secretary Rumsfeld.

He went on to discuss how the world has seen some terrible natural disasters recently such as the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the mud slides in Guatemala and the earthquake in Pakistan.

He mentioned how Army Gen. John Abizaid, CENTCOM commander, and his team have been working “day in and day out” to do everything humanly possible to assist those who have suffered during the recent Pakistani earthquakes.

"These disasters have caused a great deal of harm, a lot of death and dislocation, but they've also shown the truly heart-felt compassion and professionalism of the men and women in the United States military," said Secretary Rumsfeld.

He then turned the focus toward the Global War on Terrorism, stating the global coalition is putting great pressure on the enemy all across the globe, staying on the attack and keeping the terrorists on the run.

He went on to say there still seems to be confusion and misunderstanding in certain circles about America and the nature of the Global War on Terrorism.

"Many of you have undoubtedly heard questions asked about why are our forces fighting this war in Afghanistan and in Iraq? You can tell those that ask you such questions that you and your friends across the globe are standing on the front lines to protect them and to safeguard their freedom, as well as your own," said Secretary Rumsfeld. "America's not what's wrong with this world. What's wrong with this world are the terrorists, the beheaders, the hostage takers and the assassins.

He said the goal for this Global War on Terrorism is victory; unconditional, unapologetic and unyielding.

Additionally, Secretary Rumsfeld answered questions offered from some of the more than 300 servicemembers who were in attendance about topics such as intelligence collection and use, tanker recapitalization and media concerns.

Secretary Rumsfeld departed that afternoon to Miami for talks with Central and South American officials. Before his departure, he made special note of how impressed he was by the professionalism and competence of MacDill's personnel.

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