U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in Colorado Springs to host this year's Informal NATO Conference, which is being held at the Broadmoor. But on Tuesday, he turned his attention to Fort Carson---answering questions from troops and their families.
Secretary Rumsfeld thanked the soldiers and their families for their contributions to the global war on terror. He also compared these men and women to the legendary Kit Carson, for whom the post is named.
Mr. Rumsfeld was greeted warmly by the crowd at the town meeting. Many were especially eager to hear what he had to say about the war with Iraq and the military in general. The secretary answered questions ranging from the cost of on post daycare to the role of reservists.
Lindsay Benton's husband is a tank commander currently serving in Iraq. She was happy with Secretary Rumsfeld's message. "The things he couldn't answer for us, hopefully he'll be able to look into for us," she said. But she still struggles when she thinks about the danger her husband faces every day. "I know that they are doing their job over there and I know that he's very protected---the tanks are extreme machines," Benton said.
Private First Class Marie Scott is both a soldier and a widow. Her husband was killed while serving with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. "I still have friends whose husbands are over there---their loved ones. And I mean my worries are over because the worst possible thing happened, but I still feel for them."
So her question for Secretary Rumsfeld is the same many have---when will the troops be home?
Mr. Rumsfeld's reply: "I'm sure everybody's just ready for this to be over. The single statement that I have heard from the Army that I believe to be definitive, is that 'boots on the ground' in Iraq will be up to one year."
The Defense Secretary also said there is a slight chance that troops could return sooner, but it would take a major event to force the troops to stay longer than a year.