Cheney Praises National Guard Contributions to Combating Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2006 Vice President Richard B. Cheney yesterday told members of the Iowa National Guard that he appreciates and admires their service around the world as he highlighted Guard contributions to the war on terror.
"From homeland security to swift and effective action after the Gulf Coast hurricanes last fall, to service in the Middle East and the Balkans, you've made a tremendous difference for the nation," he said during a speech at Camp Dodge, Iowa.
Cheney used the contributions of Iowans in the war to spotlight the contributions of National Guardsmen around the world. "As we meet today, the 133rd Infantry ... and the 194th Field Artillery Battalion, both from Camp Dodge, are serving in Iraq," he said. "Others, from the 1034th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, will be on their way soon. All told, in the months since our country was attacked September the 11th, the Iowa National Guard has mobilized and deployed over 8,500 soldiers and airmen -- more than at any other time in modern history."
Other Iowa forces deployed in the war on terror include the 224th Engineer Battalion, the 132nd Fighter Wing, the 767th Engineer Team (Firefighting), the 1088th Personnel Service Detachment, the 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, the 2168th Transportation Company, and the 194th Infantry Detachment, Cheney said. "Your duties in the war on terror have been many and varied and often dangerous," he said. "And the record you've amassed is superb."
Guardsmen are the face of America, Cheney said, and the "men and women who wear this nation's uniform have reminded people everywhere of America's purposes."
Cheney said America deploys military force not to conquer, but to liberate. "And after we throw back tyrants, we stand by our friends to ensure that democratic institutions can take hold and to help build the freedom that leads to peace in the long run," he said. "By their openness, their decency and their kindness to others in thousands of interactions every day, our men and women in uniform are building bonds of friendship between the U.S. and the nations we've liberated."
He said U.S. forces have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to overthrow violent, merciless regimes. "Now (the countries) have democratically elected governments, the dictators are gone, and 50 million people are awakening to a future of hope and freedom," he said. "Americans who return home from that part of the world can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives."
Terrorists understand that democracy is their enemy, Cheney said. "The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization," he said. "It is a battle worth fighting. It's a battle we're going to win."
The growing size and capabilities of Iraqi and Afghan forces are working against the terrorists, the vice president said. U.S. forces will continue to train Afghan and Iraqi soldiers and police and, ultimately, fewer U.S. forces will be needed in those countries.
Cheney said the terrorists were at war with the United States long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington. He said terrorists believed they had learned lessons from past American behavior. "They grew bolder in their belief that if they killed Americans, they could change American policy," he said.
He cited the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 American servicemembers and the deaths of American servicemen in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 as two examples terrorists used in forming their policies. "The terrorists came to believe that they could strike America and American targets without paying any price," he said. "And so they continued to wage those attacks, making the world less safe and eventually striking the United States here at home on 9/11."
Sept. 11 changed everything, Cheney said. "The United States will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11," he said. "Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness."
The United States will not be weak again, the vice president said. All the power of the American government and international allies will be directed against these terrorists where they operate, "so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities."