|Rumsfeld Visits Deployed Site in Kyrgyzstan|
Rumsfeld Visits Deployed Site in Kyrgyzstan
By 2nd Lt. Ed Ekpoudom, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.
Operation Enduring Freedom -- (AFPN) April 29, 2002 -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld praised U.S. and coalition forces during a visit to a deployed location in Kyrgyzstan on April 26.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks to a group of 500 coalition military members at a deployed site in Kyrgyzstan on April 26. The secretary is on a tour of deployed sites in Central Asia.
Photo by Master Sgt. Jerry King
Rumsfeld told the more than 500 airmen, sailors, soldiers, Marines and coalition members gathered at a town hall meeting the work they do is vital to the continuing success of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"What you’re doing is of the utmost importance," said Rumsfeld. "You stand against an evil. It is the evil of mass murderers. Their purpose in life is to kill large numbers of innocent people. It’s an evil that can’t be appeased, it can’t be ignored and it certainly cannot be allowed to prevail. You’re doing a great job at your task."
Rumsfeld thanked the active-duty, Reserve, Guard and coalition members who make up the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing for their service in the war against terrorism.
"There is no question that the men and women of the coalition forces gathered here in this tent and spread in other countries across the globe are people who voluntarily put their lives at risk for their country," Rumsfeld said. "They do it willingly. They do it professionally. Each of you should be enormously proud of the contribution you are making."
The 376th AEW flies combat, tanker and cargo missions into Afghanistan and Rumsfeld said the wing’s efforts keep pressure on the terrorist presence there.
"The task is to put pressure on terrorists wherever they are," Rumsfeld said. "You folks are certainly helping to do that in good style."
Referring to the eight-country coalition here, Rumsfeld addressed the importance of coalition cooperation.
"We are working with coalition forces all over the world," Rumsfeld said. "It makes all the sense in the world for there to be coalitions developed, to the extent they can function together, be interoperable and communicate with each other. Then we can be vastly more successful." Rumsfeld also fielded questions from the audience. When asked how long American forces were expected to remain in Kyrgyzstan, Rumsfeld answered forces will be there as long necessary.
He thanked Kyrgyzstan for its hospitality and continued support.
"They’ve (Kyrgyzstan) been so cooperative in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom," he said.
Rumsfeld talked and visited with troops following the town hall meeting.
"I wish you all well. We admire what you’re doing. We thank your families for letting you do it," Rumsfeld said, leaving the meeting.