BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Iraq — U.S. Secretary of Defense knew what was on the troops’ minds when he visited 3,000 servicemembers in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Rumsfeld’s brief visit with the troops was clearly a morale booster as he spoke to the soldiers, Marines, Air Force members and sailors in a large metal hangar for 30 minutes and then answered questions.

“I wanted to hear what he has to say,” said Army Spc. Imelda Crawford, an administration specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 24th Command Support Group from Fort Stewart, Ga. “I want to know when I’m going home,” said Crawford, who has been in Iraq and Kuwait for 3½ months.

But Rumsfeld, anticipating that type of query, started his question-and-answer session with a warning: “If no one will ask me ‘When I can go home?’ I’ll take a few questions.”

1st Lt. Sean Barber, of V Corps from Darmstadt, Germany, wanted to know how plans were proceeding to reduce the number of troops stationed in Europe and Germany.

Rumsfeld said U.S. European Command commander Marine Gen. James Jones is still analyzing the military needs for the United States in Europe. He said the base structuring arrangement may have been fine during the Cold War, but it doesn’t work in the current world order.

That transformation will also take place for U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East and in Asia, he said.

In response to another soldier’s query, Rumsfeld said the United States is being successful in catching former Iraqi leaders. “We get one or two every three or four days,” he said.

He said he believes some of the wanted Iraqis have gone into Syria and to other places from there. He said the United States has asked other countries to turn those men over to coalition forces.

Throughout Rumsfeld’s visit, soldiers snapped photos for their scrapbooks and interrupted his remarks with applause and shouts of “Hooah!”

Marines from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines flew to Baghdad from their positions in northern Iraq for the secretary’s visit.

“It’s a break from war,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Boeskool, 28, of Task Force Tarawa.

Earlier in the day, Rumsfeld met with top brass at the Coalition Forces Land Component Command headquarters at Victory Camp, went to Baghdad’s power plant to support Army engineers trying to get power restored and met with more than a dozen “unit heroes.”

Unit heroes were servicemembers from each unit selected to represent heroism.

The 1st Battalion 2nd Marines, for example, sent Cpl. Michael P. Montemayor, who saved his machine gunner after the gunner fell into a deep water hole carrying 300-plus rounds of ammunition during a heavy fighting near Nasiriyah.

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