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Secretary Of Defense Rallies Troops At Fort Bragg

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FORT BRAGG, NC — "You have well earned your outstanding reputation, and the world knows why, when the president dials 911, it rings right here in Fayetteville," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said during his speech to troops here Wednesday.

The secretary visited the post to get an up-close look at Special Operations training.

Fort Bragg is headquarters for U.S. Army Special Operations Command, which trains and organizes Rangers, Special Forces and Delta Force commandos, special operations aviation and psychological operations.

U.S. Army Special Forces Command is also headquarters for the Green Berets.

Rumsfeld met with visiting soldiers and key Special Operations leaders at Fort Bragg and said the Special Operations troops have been critical in the war against terrorists.

They have gathered information on enemy troop movements, Rumsfeld said.

"They've found targets for U.S. aircraft. They've blockaded roads in search of fleeing Taliban leaders and al-Qaida leaders. And last week, as you know, they -- with the help of some folks in the northern alliance, they -- special operations forces flew to safety some eight detainees that had been held for the past three months," he said.

He said Fort Bragg Special Operations soldiers have been brilliant in Afghanistan.

"Small numbers though they are, they have created a presence which has enormously complicated the problem for the Taliban and the al-Qaida," he said.

He said the Special Ops troops have been helping with intelligence and have supported resupply efforts. In dangerous missions, the troops have come under direct fire. But he is proud to report that that is not stopping them.

Rumsfeld also acknowledged that airmen from Pope -- and the Air Force and Navy in general -- have been working with Special Forces as a true team for several weeks.

"They've been flying bombers from Missouri, they've been flying from Diego Garcia, they've been flying some land-based fighter bomber aircraft, and they've done an absolutely superb piece of work," he said.

And Rumsfeld does not stop there. The Secretary told soldiers he wanted bin Laden dead. He said the area the terrorist could be hiding in is large, but smaller than it was several weeks ago.

Many experts on the Middle East have predicted that peace-keeping could be even more dangerous for U.S. troops than the war itself. Rumsfeld said he does not see Ameerican forces in a peace-keeping role. He said the U.S. is a fighting force that still has a lot to do around the world, and that the peace-keeping role will have to be left to others.

The visit was Rumsfeld's first to Fort Bragg during his current tour as Secretary Of Defense.


Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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