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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Leaders must listen to those in the field

Thursday, December 9, 2004

An amazing event unfolded Wednesday when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld faced combat troops in Kuwait. Rumsfeld was there to give a pep talk to the troops. But facing the 2,300 military men and women, Rumsfeld decided to take questions from the soldiers. That's where it got amazing.

One by one, soldiers stood and questioned Rumsfeld on the lack of armament available to the troops and the policy of extending troops in battle beyond their allotted time. It was clearly uncomfortable to the Secretary. But it was great for the American people.

Can you imagine another country that would allow and even encourage its military personnel to question their leader in a public fashion? This blunt and very rare talk was stunning to say the least.

You have to be proud that our freedoms include the freedom to question publicly those who make the decisions. And I believe changes will come about as a result of the frank and open questions asked by the military personnel.

It really just makes sense. The troops on the ground know what problems they face much more than some bureaucrat in Washington. But the ability to quiz those bureaucrats is what's amazing.

It's more common for our military leaders to stand in front of friendly troops and provide some motivation for those waging war. It is far less common for those soldiers to openly question our military approach and to do so without any fear of repercussions.

I hope the American public paid close attention to the interesting developments in the Rumsfeld speech. It's a lesson on freedom that illustrates the strength of our nation and our military. Now we'll watch closely to see if those leaders heard the honest and sincere words that were spoken and then take appropriate action.

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