President Bush praised his oft-criticized former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "outstanding" in front of a military crowd on Tuesday.

Bush, at a military appreciation parade in Fort Myer, Va., began his remarks by saying he was proud to serve with Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of his administration. Then he turned specifically to Rumsfeld.

"I thank members of the Cabinet, members of the administration, and former members of the Cabinet, especially the former secretary of defense who did an outstanding (sic), Secretary Don Rumsfeld," he said, according to the transcript of the event.

Bush also thanked the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the military.

"The decisions I made as your commander-in-chief have not always been popular, but the cause you have served has always been just and right," he said.

Rumsfeld, the secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006, received criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers for his strategy to invade and occupy Iraq. Army officials had initially called for a large force in Iraq, but Rumsfeld went ahead with a smaller force that could act quicker.

Rumsfeld also received bipartisan criticism for overseeing military interrogations of terror detainees that involved techniques such as waterboarding that amounted to torture.

Rumsfeld stepped down from his Cabinet post immediately after the 2006 midterm elections, in which Democrats took control of Congress. Republicans blasted the timing of the move, saying that Rumsfeld's resignation before the election might have saved some GOP seats.