U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States will reduce its military presence in the Persian Gulf area. He says the U.S. military can cut back its forces now that Iraq no longer poses a threat to the region. One news report, in the New York Times, says the U.S. military is shifting its major Mideast air operations center from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia to Al-udeid Air Base in Qatar. Mr. Runsfeld?s comments came as he toured the Persian Gulf region. Brian Purchia has the latest.

Mr. Rumsfeld says U.S. forces have fewer reasons to stay in the region now that Saddam Hussein is gone. He said Washington does not want to base American troops in places where they are not welcome.

Speaking to American troops at the U.S. Central Command base in Doha Qatar, Monday, Secretary Rumsfeld called the liberation of Baghdad in less than a month possibly the fastest march on a capital in modern military history.

?When the dust is settled in Iraq military historians will study this war and they will they'll examine the unprecedented combination of power, precision, speed, flexibility and I would add also compassion that was employed.?

Mr. Rumsfeld says the speed and precision shown by U.S. forces in Iraq will be studied as a blueprint for military operations in the 21st century.

?Let there be no doubt with the liberation of Iraq you have transformed a country, but how you did it will help transform how we defend our country in the twenty-first century."

He told the crowd of cheering troops that because of their effort, Iraqis are now able to speak ? in his words, "without fear of torture or death."

Also, Secretary Rumsfeld plans to visit Afghanistan for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Citing security reasons, Pentagon officials have refused to confirm reports that Mr. Rumsfeld intends to stop in Iraq before returning to Washington.