By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2006 – As he leads the Defense Department through challenging times, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said over the weekend that he and his senior military leaders have the utmost confidence in the men and women in uniform waging the war on terror. Rumsfeld echoed the words of Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, during a wide-ranging Sept. 30 interview with CNN. He acknowledged the "absolutely amazing job" the troops are doing in Iraq "and how dedicated they are and how patriotic they are, how proud they are of what they're doing and how convinced they are that they're making progress."
All members of the U.S. military, including the 138,000 serving in Iraq, are volunteers, the secretary noted. "They're there because they want to be there," he said. "And they're darn proud of what they're doing, and they ought to be proud."
Winning the terror war won't be quick or easy and will demand that the country adapt to changing circumstances and demands, Rumsfeld said. "And our folks are doing that," he said. "They're constantly making adjustments."
Lessons being learned in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world in the global struggle against extremists "are constantly being fed into the training and the doctrine of this department at a very rapid clip," he said.
Meanwhile, sweeping transformational changes taking place within the Defense Department are helping posture it to face asymmetrical threats like those faced in Iraq and elsewhere around the world in the terror war, he said.
These changes have moved DoD from a Cold War framework to one better suited to the challenges being faced today and into the foreseeable future, he said. They're also increased military capabilities. "We've tried to increase the 'tooth' part of the equation as opposed to the 'tail,' and reduced the size of the institutional services and increased the operational services," Rumsfeld said.
However, the secretary agreed with President Bush's assessment that the military is just one part of the solution in the terror war. "It's going to take all elements of our country, working with many, many other countries, to see that we turn this in a way that's positive," he said.
Rumsfeld expressed concern about sectarian violence in Iraq, but emphasized that violent extremists represent just a tiny fraction of the Muslim population that's targeting innocent men, women and children. "And I have to believe that the overwhelming majority in that faith are getting tired of it and are tired of seeing their families killed by extremists," he said.
Ultimately, the Iraqi people will be the ones to stop the violence there, he said. "In the last analysis, that insurgency is going to be held within Iraq by the Iraqi people, by the success of (the Iraqi) government and over time," he said. "It isn't going to be dealt with by foreigners, in my view.
"And our task is to see that they have sufficient security forces that they can in fact achieve their goal of a reasonably stable environment so that they can move forward as a country."