American Forces Press Service

Coalition Members Show Solidarity at Pentagon

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2002 -- Lined up with military representatives from 27 countries supporting the war on terrorism, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today said, "Six months after the war began, it is certainly far from over, but if we stand together . the final outcome is assured."

The coalition guests standing with Rumsfeld were representatives from foreign embassies in Washington and from U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Calling a short press briefing after returning from President Bush's 9-11 commemoration at the White House moments before, Rumsfeld spoke about the scene at the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

"One could walk out these steps and see a peaceful blue sky . but if one turned to the northwest, you'd see black smoke, thick smoke and flame rising from this building," he said.

The attacks on the Pentagon and in New York killed thousands of innocents, he said. The attacks killed people from more than 80 countries and of all races and religions. He called the terror attacks "truly an attack against the world."

Australian army Col. Craig Orme is the senior Aussie representative at CENTCOM headquarters. "We live and work in what's called the Coalition Village at Central Command headquarters," he said during a press availability after Rumsfeld spoke. "It has worked well. We transmit any request that (U.S. Army) Gen. (Tommy) Franks has to the headquarters in Australia."

Orme said he's pleased with the way CENTCOM deals with coalition partners and that CENTCOM appears pleased with the information, intelligence and other capabilities the coalition partners provide. He said the cooperation within the coalition took some time to smooth out, but that liaison work has become routine.

Australian army Maj. Gen. Simon Willis, defense attach assigned to Washington, said Central Command has been pleased with Australia's contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom. For example, he said, his nation's Special Air Service proved helpful in recent fighting around the city of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.

Japanese Col. Hiroyoshi Asano said his government is breaking new ground in cooperating in such an operation. The Japanese Self-Defense Force is providing ships, supplies and intelligence in the operation. He said the years of cooperation between the United States and Japan has allowed the two countries' ships to work together smoothly.

Air attaches said coordination has been outstanding among coalition members for everything from overflight and basing rights to air-to-air refueling to combat missions.

Rumsfeld thanked his guests for their countries' contributions. "Military personnel from several nations have now lost their lives," he said. "We offer our deepest sympathy to their families and their friends. They courageously served their countries and the cause of freedom."

The secretary said countries around the globe realize the seriousness of the attacks of Sept. 11 and are pitching in to root out the terror networks. As a sign of this solidarity, he pointed to NATO's invoking Article V of its charter -- an attack on one alliance member is an attack on all.

He said some coalition countries have contributed military forces, diplomatic and economic pressure, financial means and humanitarian assistance. "Some have helped openly, others have helped quietly," he said.

The secretary said the Sept. 11 attacks were "clearly a terrible tragedy and our nation grieves for those who were lost and our hearts go out to their families -- in New York, in Pennsylvania and to our friends and colleagues in the Pentagon.

"But from the ashes, hope springs," Rumsfeld continued. "With the coming of spring, the Pentagon is rising and thanks to the truly outstanding effort of the workers, repairs are ahead of schedule."

He said the last six months have changed the world. "It has awakened to the threat of terrorism, and the civilized nations of the world have reached truly new levels of cooperation, unity and strength," he said. "We have the opportunity to tear terrorism out by the roots. By our campaign against terrorism, we are preventing acts of terror that may well have been planned before Sept. 11, and we would have never known about until it was too late."

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