Friday, April 15, 2005

SecDef

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What do you do if your boss’s, boss’s, boss’s showed up during lunch time? I went to see what he was up to and it was the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visit to see the ground truth here in Kandahar. What ever you think of him, you got to admire his intestinal fortitude. How many corporate executives do you know have traveled half way around the world to speak to and answer questions from the floor workers in a war zone? Not many, I bet. Also another thing about SecDef Rumsfeld was that he had a pretty small staff with him compared to his corporate counterparts.

Attendance to his conference was voluntary and to get a seat in the Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tent you had to show up an hour before. I was there 30 minutes and I was on the back benches. After that it was standing room only.

As he walked in and every soldier, marine, sailor and air force personnel got on their feet and gave him a standing ovation. He started by reenlisting 11 soldiers for more years of duty.

Then he gave us a speech on the progress that the US Military has done in Afghanistan. He said we have delivered the citizens of Afghanistan from the terror of the Taliban and gave them hope after years of Soviet occupation. He said that Afghanistan may not have the oil or water riches of Iraq, but the greatest resource that Afghanistan was its people. The Afghans never embraced the extreme Islamic beliefs and it shows that in three years after America came to liberate them that the Taliban is broken and will be totally defeated. There is no real suicide bomber problem in Afghanistan, because that concept is alien to the Afghan culture.

After those comments, he told of SFC Smith who brave acts was recognized with a Medal of Honor and what his wife said at the reception for her husband. It was inspiring.

A few of us was waiting for the Q and A section of his appearance, because they are never boring. Rumsfeld answered the questions with wit and honesty. When he could not answer a question from an infantry Private about the projected delivery date of the new XM-8 rifle he deferred to General Bouno to give an answer. How many times have you seen a CEO of a fortune 500 company be honest enough to say “I don’t know” and ask one of his experts to answer instead of putting the spin on it and looking stupid?

This went on for 15 minutes. The last question was a humdinger. The Corporal asked why his Father and Grandfather never seen any good news about Afghanistan in the media and what could SecDef Rumsfeld could do about it? Rumsfeld stood there, asked for the Corporal to repeat his question, and then quipped “do you think I control the media?” I busted out laughing with the rest of the audience. He said that all of us should keep emailing everybody home with our achievement here in Afghanistan and the American people has a built-in media filter the negative news that is persuasive through the dumbed down media that is built for the lowest common denominator.


After that he left the stage and posed for photos for 30 minutes. All ranks stood and waited patiently for their turn to be photographed with the SecDef. I was struck by how genially patient he was to stand will everybody for photos. His personal security detachment was slowly nudging him to his vehicle so he could fly out of KAF. After that it was back to our military duties.

Quote: There are worst things in life than death.

Update: Here is the official Transcript of the town hall meeting with the troops. Go ahead, read it yourself.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Exciting! Sounds like a typical Rumsfeld mess hall meeting...honesty, wit, and one or two barbs at the media.

Stay safe, and keep up the writing! As the SecDef said, soldiers are the only "media" in Afghanistan anymore.

8:06 AM  
Blogger nwkatje said...

Thanks for your post. My husband was in the 'crowd' with you. All he told me was we had a visitor, lol.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Oh, just a courtesy thing...you may want to consider resizing that picture, as it spills over into the right sidebar, at least in my resolution in Firefox.

Also, you're linked at the No Angst Zone..call it a manual, wordy, trackback.

8:26 AM  
Blogger betsy said...

How interesting, thanks! No matter what, you gotta admit - Rummy respects the troops and they him.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Brendon said...

Robert:

I hate to break the news to you, but Rumsfeld and all the other neo-cons calling the shots in the White House don't give a shit about you. You're just a cog in the machine to them. But your family does love you. Unfortunately, we can't just can't leave our jobs and so-called bcare-free civilian lives and drop everything to hop on an all-expense paid jet to Afghanistan when we want (although I'm sure my tax dollars paid for part of Rummy's trip). Remember that.

As for the corporate world, same difference: when you're rank and file, you're rank and file and nothing changes that. The CEO doesn't give a shit about you -- they just want you to work harder to make them wealthy.

Stay safe,
-Brendon

5:20 AM  

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