Gerald R. Ford
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President Ford's Statement on
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

By Gerald R. Ford
Friday, April 21, 2006

I have been extremely troubled by the efforts of a group of retired generals to force the resignation of our Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. President Bush is right to keep him in his post. It is the President's decision--and his alone.

Allowing retired generals to dictate our country's policies and its leadership would be a dangerous precedent that would severely undermine our country's long tradition of civilian control of the military. It would discourage civilian leaders at the Department from having frank and candid exchanges with military officers. And, today, at a time of war, such an effort sends exactly the wrong message both to our troops deployed abroad and to our enemies who are watching for any signs of weakness or self-doubt.

When I carried out my duties as Commander in Chief, I relied on a man who I appointed first as White House Chief of Staff and later asked to serve the country as Secretary of Defense. In those times, I needed someone with creativity, vision, and courage. And I found those qualities--and much more--in Don Rumsfeld.

President Bush came to office with an ambitious agenda to reform and modernize America's military. He knew that Don, who had been in the job before, was extremely well suited to take on this challenge and contend with a bureaucracy that has a built-in resistance to change. The President knew that successfully carrying out these missions, against stiff resistance, takes someone with a certain amount of steel.

When America's security remains under threat and terrorists plot to attack us at home, our country is fortunate that we have a Secretary and a Commander-in Chief in President Bush with the character and steadiness to hold firm to the right course.

Millions of Americans are proud and grateful for what they are undertaking. Betty and I count ourselves among them.

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