WASHINGTON – Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) “makes a lot of good sense,” former Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), Donald Rumsfeld told an audience.
Rumsfeld, a former naval aviator, was the keynote speaker at the 30th annual spring luncheon of the Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club (NOSC) on May 14 at JBAB.
Rumsfeld told the audience that after getting out of the Navy in 1957, he flew out of the northern portion of JBAB, then known as Naval Air Station Anacostia, while working in Washington, D.C. He thinks it “makes a lot of good sense” that it is now a joint base.
The youngest and the only twice-serving SECDEF in the country’s history, Rumsfeld shared his observations and offered advice about leadership, business and life, much of which is contained in his book, “Rumsfeld’s Rules.”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” Rumsfeld also said.
Rumsfeld said the collection of observations began as a young child, when his mother – a teacher and Navy spouse – would help him learn new words. Her instructions were to write it down, look it up, use it in a sentenceand then review it at the end of the week.
As a dutiful son he continued with the habit, making notes on 3x5 index cards – not only of new words, but entire thoughts, concepts and statements.
“They are not all rules, nor are they all Rumsfeld’s,” he clarified. “In fact, the very best are certainly not mine.”
It was President Gerald Ford who convinced Rumsfeld to take those pieces of wisdom and put them in one document, labeling them “Rumsfeld’s Rules.”
Rumsfeld pointed out that Ford was never elected as vice president or president when he moved into the positions after being a legislator.
Rumsfeld was initially asked to come from NATO to be the chairman of Ford’s transition, before becomingWhite Housechief of staff.“If was a difficult period of time for our country,” he reflected.
The President and Rumsfeld were working in the Oval Office when Rumsfeld shared his rule on “what you measure improves” to Ford. He likened it to the military rule of “you get what you inspect, not what you expect.”
It was then that Ford asked him to have the advice typed up to be shared with senior staff at the White House so that they knew the President supported it.
Rumsfeld said that some of his rules come from the Navy and the military in general.
He joked that all the planes he flew are now hanging in museums, and he noticed one in particular,a T-28 was displayed at JBAB.
He recalled a rulehe learned in flight school, if one is lost in a plane while flying. It is called the three “Cs”: Climb (to get altitude); Conserve (your fuel); Confess (you are lost). Rumsfeld added that it’s probably not bad advice for politicians.
Rumsfeld expressed his appreciation to all military members and their families for their service to our country. He said hehas had the wonderful opportunity to visit military bases throughout the country and world, to sign books.
“I would be able to look them in the eye and thank them for their service to our country, “ he said. “We are so fortunate to have not just individuals, men and women, but their families [also] serve – and I understand that.”
Rumsfeld added that he is convinced that it’s better to have an all volunteer military instead of a conscripted force after serving on both types.
He pointed out that the draft military excluded many groups, including men, students, teachers, married people, those who went to Canada and people of certain ages. This resulted in a narrow portion of the population, many of whom did not want to serve.
They were also paid 60 to 70 percent less than their civilian manpower counterparts, while everyone else excluded from the draft could live their lives as they pleased. As a result, people gravitated toward the exempted groups.
Rumsfeld acknowledged that the disadvantage of a volunteer force is that people in business, journalism and academic communities often have not served and don’t understand or have first-hand knowledge of the value of what service members bring to the table.
“When people come out of the military they have received responsibility at a much younger age than would be the case in the private sector,” he said. “They’re responsible for the lives and well being of dozens of humans, and they’re dealing with equipment that costs millions of dollars.”
Another reason for the draft, Rumsfeld pointed out, is that it places a strong emphasis on the value of our military. It says that it is terribly important, so important that we are willing to compel people to serve in the military.
“That’s the one thing in our country that we’re going to use compulsion.It’s that important,” Rumsfeld said.
“I think we have the finest armed forces on the face of the earth,” Rumsfeld said. “We are fortunate everyone is there because they want to be there and their families want to be there too. God bless all of you for doing what you do.”
During the luncheon, $26,000 in scholarships was awarded to 13 local Navy dependents and more than $18,000 was distributed to military-related charities.
The funding was raised through “Temptations,” the NOSC’s gift boutique, located at the Washington Navy Yard and other fundraising efforts.
Over the last three decades, NOSC has been instrumental in the development of the Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Club (JAFOWL), Naval Services FamilyLine and COMPASS, while providing educational, cultural and social fellowship to members.
Rumsfeld currently chairs a non-profit foundation with his wife, Joyce. The Rumsfeld Foundation supports leadership and public service at home and the growth of free political and economic systems abroad.
The foundation funds microfinance projects, fellowships for graduate students interested in public service, exchange programs for young leaders from Central Asia and the Caucasus, and charitable causes that benefit the men and women of the U.S. armed forces and their families.
Proceeds from the sales of his New York Times bestselling memoir, Known and Unknown, published in February 2011, go to military charities sponsored by the Rumsfeld Foundation, specifically wounded warriors, their families and the children of those who have fallen in combat.
In addition to serving as the 13th and 21st Secretary of Defense and White House chief of staff, Rumsfeld served as a U.S. Congressman, Ambassador to NATO, Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East and Chief Executive Officer of two Fortune 500 companies.