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Cheney Praises Northern Command for Homeland Defense Mission

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2004 – Vice President Dick Cheney praised the men and women of U.S. Northern Command for making their two-year old command "a disciplined, professional, effective component of the greatest military force in the world."

Cheney spoke to service members at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He said their mission is "nothing less than the defense of America's land, sea and airspace. In our vast, open nation, that is a heavy responsibility. And you meet it every day."

Cheney thanked the Canadian allies who, as members of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, share the job of defending the continent.

The vice president said that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, show that the United States is a front in the war on terror. "We have taken the fight to our enemies wherever they plot and plan," he said. "Yet we understand that winning this war requires more than that. We must put forth a sustained effort on every major battlefront and as we saw so clearly on 9/11, the homeland is one of those fronts."

He said establishing Northern Command was a critical addition to U.S. military strategy. "Already, (command) units have flown more than 36,000 sorties in support of Operation Noble Eagle, a far-reaching effort to deter and disrupt attacks against America from the sky," he said.

He thanked the men and women of Northern Command for their contributions to developing a national missile defense system.

Cheney also spoke about the busy schedule the command has had in protecting high-value events. He thanked the command for its role in ensuring the safety of the Super Bowl in Houston, the G-8 Summit in Georgia and the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

"You've supported state and federal civilian agencies in responding to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster," he added, referring to the craft's breakup over Texas in February 2003. "You've developed task forces to improve homeland security coordination in the national capital region, to enhance our ability to respond to an attack with weapons of mass destruction, and to fight drug trafficking."

The command's work allows Americans to lead their lives with confidence and security, Cheney noted. He specifically mentioned the work of reserve component personnel.

"These men and women have put their lives and their careers on hold to fulfill a solemn commitment to serve," he said. "They are making critical contributions to the defense of the nation both overseas and here at home. In their courage and sacrifice, America's guardsmen and reservists have earned the respect and gratitude of the entire nation."

Cheney said that while America has been tested over the past three years, it is also a time of promise. He said the United States is making the world a better place by "defending the innocent, confronting the violent and bringing freedom to the oppressed."

"We understand the threats before us, and we have the resources, the strength and the moral courage to overcome them all," he continued. "The terrorist enemies will fail because the direction of history is toward justice and human freedom. The terrorists will fail because the resolve of America and or allies will not be shaken. And the terrorists will fail because men and women like you stand in their way."

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U.S. Northern Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command

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