Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit to Troops

12-24-04 - MOSUL, Iraq (AP) Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is telling troops in Iraq he knows they are "making a difference."

The Pentagon chief is on a surprise visit to the country, making stops so far in Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah.

He says he sees the trip as "a chance to US troops in the eye."

He's also telling them to pay no heed to those doubting their chances to succeed.

He says, "We're on the side of freedom," and that they are keeping the country from turning "back into a dark place."

The trip comes after several tough weeks from Rumsfeld in Washington where several high-profile Republicans have publicly criticized his handling of the war and others have called on him to resign.

It was two weeks ago in Kuwait that the Pentagon chief was pointedly asked by a soldier why troops didn't have the armor they needed.

Rumsfeld's response, that "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have," drew harsh criticism.

Now, soldiers are asking Rumsfeld how to win the war in the media.

He responded that he, too, wished that "more of the good works" that they were doing were "considered newsworthy."

He also said that unlike the query two weeks ago it didn't sound like the question "was planted by the press."