Rumsfeld visits, lauds Marshall Center on its 10th anniversary
Stars and Stripes June 12, 2003
GARMISCH, GERMANY — Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld visited the Marshall Center on Wednesday to help commemorate the school’s 10th anniversary.
During a speech to several hundred current and former students, as well as several defense secretaries from European countries, Rumsfeld reinforced that the school has been integral in forging new ties for the United States that have been important in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld, joined by German leaders and the commander of the U.S. European Command, Marine Gen. James L. Jones, visited students and attended a reception to mark the occasion.
John Rose, director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, said the success of the center can be measured by looking at the people who have attended its courses, seminars and conferences.
For example, Romanian State Secretary Sorin Encutescu and Georgia Minister of Defense David Tevzadze, both visiting Wednesday, had attended the center in the mid-1990s when they were midlevel military officers.
That demonstrates, Rose said, that the Marshall Center is reaching the people who become future leaders.
The center opened in 1993 as a German-American partnership. The United States, in 2003, provides $25 million or about 91.5 percent of the center’s budget, however the German government gives a substantial amount of infrastructure support.
Since 1994, more than 2,700 people have participated in the center’s international programs for military and civilian leaders.
Rumsfeld, who had just completed a visit to Albania and Portugal, continued Wednesday to at least give the appearance of a cold shoulder to Germany.
Rumsfeld praised the contributions of countries such as Poland and Romania to fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he failed to acknowledge any assistance from Germany. But in brief comments after the ceremony, he expressed condolences for the four German soldiers killed by a bomb over the weekend in Afghanistan.
German leaders had opposed an attack in Iraq but in the weeks before the invasion, thousands of German troops began to provide security at U.S. bases in the country. In addition, Germany, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, deployed equipment to Kuwait that can detect dangerous biological pathogens and chemicals and also provided the troops to operate the equipment.
Rumsfeld, who flew by helicopter to the ceremony from Munich, said the challenges in this century are strengthening states and their ability to govern and police their borders and to “strengthen and reform” institutions, such as NATO, that facilitate cooperation and multilateral action.
“For a decade now, the Marshall Center has produced the leaders who are helping make these changes happen,” he said. “In just 10 years, the graduates of the Marshall Center have already made an enormous difference, in their countries and in the world.”
Rumsfeld also used the opportunity to talk about what has worked and who has helped in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
“It suggests that the distinction between old and new in Europe today is really not a matter of age or size or even geography,” he said. “It is a matter of attitude, of the vision that countries bring to the trans-Atlantic relationship.”
The secretary praised younger countries, primarily those from the former Warsaw Pact, who have rallied to the United States as part of the coalition of the willing.
He did not mention countries such as France and Germany that, until Operation Iraqi Freedom, had been staunch United States allies.
“It is no surprise that many of the nations with fresh memories of tyranny and occupation have been among those most willing to face the new threats, and contribute to dealing with them,” he said. “They are bringing new vision and new vitality to our old alliance.”
In contrast was German Minister of Defense Peter Struck, who, in his speech, highlighted the longtime American-German partnership in not only running the Marshall Center but also as post-World War II allies.
“Without your effort and hard work, the Marshall Center would have remained a mere mind game of little practical consequence,” he said in a printed English translation of his remarks. “I know that our American friends attach extremely high importance to this institute. I can assure you that the German side does, too.”
The squabble over the war in Iraq, he said, has not fragmented the relationship.
“Sure, our views differed over the Iraq issue. But a friendship like ours can take that. We are now looking ahead,” he said.