Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has held his last Pentagon "town hall" meeting before leaving office, saying he wants the world to know about what he called the "miracles" performed by the men and women in his department.
Rumsfeld on Friday praised the military for its work helping the victims of disasters such as the massive earthquake in Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina in the United States last year.
He also urged both patience and a sense of urgency in continuing to fight the war against "violent extremism." He noted the unconventional nature of the conflict, fought in nations against which the United States is not at war.
President Bush accepted Rumsfeld's resignation last month, after legislative elections put Democrats in control of both Houses of Congress. The sweep in large part reflected discontent with Iraq war policy, of which Rumsfeld was a chief architect.
His replacement, former CIA director Robert Gates, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday.
Rumsfeld also praised the military for performing its duties while being transformed from what he called a static organization left over from the Cold War to one he said was more appropriate for the 21st century.
He noted that the men and women of the Defense Department had established and stood guard over the Guantanamo Bay base prison holding what he termed the world's most dangerous terrorists. He said, in doing so, those U.S. military employees had suffered what he called grossly irresponsible charges in the media against them.
During a question-and-answer session with the troops, Rumsfeld was asked about the highs and lows of the job. He said "clearly, the worst day was Abu Ghraib," a reference to the exposure of torture at the U.S.-run prison in Iraq.