Outgoing US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise trip to Iraq, just days after a bipartisan commission called the situation there "grave and deteriorating" and said the administration's policy wasn't working.
"For the past six years, I have had the opportunity and, I would say the privilege, to serve with the greatest military on the face of the Earth," Rumsfeld, 74, said in a speech on Saturday to more than 1,200 soldiers and Marines stationed al-Assad, an air base in Anbar Province, the large area of western Iraq that is an insurgent stronghold.
"I leave understanding that the true strength of the United States military is not in Washington, it's not in the Pentagon, it's not in the weapons. It's in the hearts of the men and women who serve. It's your patriotism, it's your professionalism and indeed your determination," he was quoted by the US Department of Defense as saying.
"We feel great urgency to protect the American people from another 9/11 or a 9/11 times two or three. At the same time, we need to have the patience to see this task through to success. The consequences of failure are unaccepta-ble," Rumsfeld said. "The enemy must be defeated."
He also met with US forces in Balad, 80km north of Baghdad, the defense department said.
In Baghdad, the US military said yesterday that it couldn't confirm Rumsfeld's visit or say how long he would remain in the country. The US embassy in Baghdad said it had no information since the military had handled the trip. The Pentagon refused to say whether Rumsfeld was still in Iraq or where he planned to travel next.
It was Rumsfeld's 15th trip to Iraq since the war began.
Rumsfeld's trip follows an emotional farewell on Friday at the Pentagon, where he defended his record on Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the worst day of his nearly six years as secretary of defense occurred when he learned of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.
Rumsfeld's Pentagon appearance and his trip to Iraq on Saturday were among the few public appearances he has made since US President George W. Bush announced on Nov. 8 that he was replacing the defense secretary. His last full day will be on Sunday.
also see stories:
Bush avoids Iraq Study Group advice
Iraqi Shiites, Kurds disparage study group proposals
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no
CHASTISING CHINA: Taiwan’s approach to combating the coronavirus stands in stark contrast to the country where the outbreak began, the US health secretary said International organizations are not the place to play politics, especially when the matter relates to healthcare, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said in Taipei yesterday, adding that the region and the world are safer because of Taiwan’s commitment to health promotion. On the third day of his visit, the highest-level visit by a senior US Cabinet official in decades, Azar met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) at the Grand Mayfull Hotel in Zhongshan District (中山) yesterday morning, following his meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)