TRUST THE MEDIA TO GET IT WRONG

RUMSFELD’S VISIT - AS IT REALLY WAS
By 1SG Timmy Rikard, FOB Marez, Mosul, Iraq

This is a shotgun blast response at media reports on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's visit to our Camp. I was fortunate enough to be there and even shake the man's hand.

When the media reports were released concerning the event, I could not believe what I saw and heard. There are over 12,000 troops on our base. Only 2,000 or so had the opportunity to attend the gathering and I can tell you, those seats were a hotly contested item - not as the media would have you believe “so we could voice our displeasure,” but rather - to have the opportunity to see and hear the man we admire.

The Secretary spoke for 10 minutes or so on the war in Iraq and what freedom meant to the people of Afghanistan. He was there for the recent elections and shared his wonderful insight. After his prepared remarks he opened the floor for questions and made it very clear that nothing was off limits.

Folks, this is extremely unusual for a dignitary to do. Also we, as leaders, were instructed to not screen our soldiers' questions. They were to be honest and from the heart. Mr. Rumsfeld fielded a number of questions, took down notes for the ones he did not have answers to and genuinely enjoyed talking to the soldiers. Afterward, he spent over an hour with the enthusiastic troops who literally mobbed him and would not let him leave. He smiled for all, shook hands and had pictures taken. It ended only when his security forced us away.

He was applauded, he was given a standing ovation and he was loved.

He stood there like a professional, like a man, and he took the heat because that's what leaders do. And yet somehow, the American media turned that wonderful event into a “disgruntled troops meet with Secretary Rumsfeld” headline. Incredible!

The morale is high, the equipment is good and improving daily. Disregard what you read and hear from the media and trust in the American fighting men and women to do the right thing. We have excellent leadership and are doing what we signed up to do.