Rumsfeld Likens Terror War Sacrifices to Normandy Invasion
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
SINGAPORE, Jun. 4, 2004 The sacrifices of D-Day's Allied forces invading Normandy 60 years ago resemble those facing the armed forces in today's world, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said here today.
World War II's D-Day troops "too went overseas to defend our freedoms and to fight the designs of tyrants," he said.
"They believed in freedom, and they knew it was worth fighting for, even dying for. And today, the call to defend freedom is again clear, and that duty falls to each of you," Rumsfeld told the crew of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex in the waters off this southeastern Asia republic.
Rumsfeld had just re-enlisted 30 sailors and 2 Marines aboard the vessel. He said the Essex was a fitting place to hold the ceremony because the crew of the first Essex in the U.S. inventory had much the same mission as the one today's armed forces face. The current vessel is the fifth carrying that name.
"I'm told the original Essex was sent to sea shortly after the Revolutionary War against the Barbary pirates who used their terror and murder to intimidate innocent people and to advance their interests," the secretary said. "Centuries later, enemies of civilized society still plot attacks against free people. They still use terror and intimidation as the weapons of choice. And we can still call upon this Essex and other ships of this strike group to come to our nation's defense."
The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the world, he said, and the world has struck back against terrorism. "In less than three years," Rumsfeld said, "a global coalition has overthrown two vicious regimes, liberated 50 million people, disrupted terrorist cells around the world, including in this part of the world, and thwarted a good many terrorist attacks."
But despite those successes, he added, the world is closer to the beginning of the global war on terror than it is to the end.
"Today, civilized societies face adversaries unlike any we have ever known," he said. "They threaten us through shadowy networks that are not easily weeded out. And they have a real advantage: A terrorist needs to succeed only occasionally, but as defenders, we need to be successful always," though he said that's not a realistic expectation.
"It's impossible to defend against terrorist attacks at every place, at every time, against every conceivable terrorist technique," he said. "So the only way to prevail in this struggle the struggle against extremists and radicals is to root out the terrorists before they develop still more powerful means to inflict damage on still greater numbers of innocent men, women and children."
Today's enemy, the secretary said, is seeking to destabilize moderate Muslim countries across the globe. "As have so many brave generations in the past, you will face them," he said. "Because of who you are and what our armed forces stand for, I have no doubt of your success," he told the sailors and Marines.
Carrying out the mission will require hardships, but the mission is of historic importance. "You have stepped forward and volunteered each of you a volunteer for a cause larger than yourselves and a duty history will remember.
"For your commitment, for your courage and your resolve," he continued, "our country, our president, and certainly this one American, is deeply grateful to each of you."