Rumsfeld visits Kansas after resignation
Outgoing Pentagon chief compares Cold War, Iraq War
Manhattan Outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spoke Thursday at Kansas State University, where he compared the Cold War to Operation Iraqi Freedom and talked about winning the war on terror.
His visit comes just one day after announcing his resignation. Rumsfeld joked about how he skillfully handled publicizing the Landon Lecture.
"I wanted to put the Landon Lecture on the map. So I did my best," he said.
Gen. Richard Myers -- former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, now on the K-State faculty -- introduced Rumsfeld, saying he had never met a Secretary of Defense who "spent more time with senior military leadership."
Rumsfeld became Defense Secretary when President Bush first took office in January 2001. Prior to that Rumsfeld served as the White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, U.S. Congressman and CEO of two Fortune 500 companies.
Myers said Rumsfeld was dedicated and full of integrity when he led the Defense Department from Cold War into 21st century.
"There's some similarities between the Cold War and the struggles we face today," Rumsfeld said. "But this war presents unprecedented challenges for us wholly unlike those that we've ever faced."
But there are differences too.
Unlike the Cold War, today's enemies have nothing at stake and no addresses where they can be found, he said. The insurgents fashion deadly weapons out of propane tanks, not nuclear bombs.
Rumsfeld said there can be no doubt that the communist regimes starved their prisoners and sometimes massacred their own citizens, but they were nation states. They had capitals and laws. They had diplomats to sign agreements even if they broke them, he said.
"Unlike Cold War, today's enemy has nothing at stake, no territories. They murder innocent civilians by the thousands," Rumsfeld said. "The enemy cannot be deterred through rational self-interest. Today's threat does not come from nation states but enemies that lurk in the shadows," he said.
Since the 1990s the U.S. military has re-organized to better communicate and deal with unconventional warfare. Rumsfeld said change at all levels of government and within all branches is a positive move.
"Success requires that security, governance and development programs progress together. Our military cannot lose a battle in Afghanistan or Iraq, but they cannot win all alone. They need the help of other agencies, the broad coalition," he said. "And that is a vastly more complex task."
That task includes other countries and members of the global Muslim community, he said.
He also commented on the importance of transition teams, military units that will enable Iraqi and Afghani forces to improve and fight on their own.
"The shift requires some of America's best military personnel to become trainers, advisors and embedded with foreign security forces so they can improve their capacities and capabilities."
The 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley has taken charge of training transition teams for the entire Army.
"Transition teams undertaking critical task when they deploy to train and stand up and mentor Afghan, Iraqi security forces and those of other nations," Rumsfeld said. "There's perhaps as we move into this new period no more important mission."
He said it was the "highest honor of life to serve country and work so closely with outstanding troops."
The Landon Lecture Series at K-State began in 1966 as a tribute to the late Alfred M. Landon, who was sworn in as Governor of Kansas in 1933.
Donald Rumsfeld joins a list of speakers that includes Mikhail Gorbachev, Janet Reno, Rev. Jesse Jackson and several U.S. presidents including President Bush.
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