On May 31, before leaving for Vietnam to urge support of a search for soldiers who've been missing in action for nearly 30 years, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stopped into Colorado Springs to congratulate himself and others.
First, Rummy shook hands with nearly 900 Air Force Academy graduates, praising them for "stepping up and volunteering to serve our nation and help defend freedom."
Then, to cap off his "terrific day," the secretary was briefed on the ability of Northern Command to respond to manmade and natural disasters. Timing couldn't have been better for such statements since it was the eve of the official start of the hurricane season.
So, what was Rumsfeld's assessment of NorthCom's abilities?
"Truly impressive," he said, before being told that a training exercise proved NorthCom can battle terrorists on the ground, take action against the human-to-human spread of bird flu, and respond to a Category 3 hurricane all at the same time.
Adm. Timothy J. Keating praised Rumsfeld and President Bush for having the vision to create NorthCom, adding that America is safer today as a result.
"The kinds of capabilities the Department of Defense is able to bring to problems are unique and distinctive," Rumsfeld said.
And knowing the problems are capable is half the battle.