Fighting Terror War Means Making Choice Between Freedom, Fear
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
TOKYO, Japan, Nov. 14, 2003 American and other coalition military forces fighting the war on terrorism are making a choice between living in freedom and living in fear, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a crowd of service members in Guam today.
Rumsfeld was visiting U.S. troops on the Western Pacific island as part of a weeklong trip through Pacific Rim countries. He arrived in Tokyo later in the day.
"Free people are people who can do what they want and say what they want," the secretary told some 200 U.S. troops having lunch at an Andersen Air Force Base dining facility. "Free people cannot live in fear."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks to troops at the Magellan Inn dining facility during his visit to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Nov. 14. Troops from all armed services, including the Coast Guard attended the event. Photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
He said some people would prefer to ignore the threat posed by the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist networks.
"But I'm afraid that's not a choice we have," he said. "The terrorists can attack at any time, any day in any location, and it's not possible to protect every place at every moment against every conceivable location. (Ignoring the issue is) just not doable."
That is why the United States has chosen to go on the offensive against terrorists, and troops in Guam are playing a vital role.
"It's a very special thing you do. Each one of you is a volunteer. You put up your hands and said you'd be willing to serve," Rumsfeld told members from all five armed services, including the Coast Guard. "Your country is grateful. People recognize what you're doing and value it."
"The importance of this region really can't be overstated," he said. This part of the world includes much of the earth's surface, nearly 60 percent of the world's population and "six of the largest militaries on the face of the Earth.
"There are countries emerging into the world in ways that will hopefully be constructive as opposed to destructive," Rumsfeld said.
The threat posed by North Korea is an overriding security concern for countries in this region. Prompted by a question by an Air Force senior enlisted man, the secretary put that threat into perspective.
On one hand, North Korea has an army that's more than 1 million strong, a large number of special operations forces, long-range and short-range ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction programs and capabilities. "They have recently made a number of statements as to what their WMD capabilities are," Rumsfeld said, "some of which we can validate, some of which we can't."
On the other hand, North Korea is a country in which people starve to death and refugees try to flee the country, Rumsfeld pointed out. Others are sentenced to concentration camps.
He called to mind a satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night. There is a stark difference on either side of the demilitarized zone. "South of (the DMZ) it's filled with lights and energy and things happening," he said. "North of it, there's not a single light except for a pinprick in Pyongyang, the capital."
The status of military inductees is a telling sign to the nation's well-being. "It is a country that I'm told recently lowered the height that they will allow people to come into the military down to 4 feet, 10 inches because they could not get enough people of normal stature because of the starvation that takes place in that country," Rumsfeld said. "And the weight limits were reduced down to the point (that) people who are accepted into the military look not like they're 17 or 18; they look like they're 14 or 15."
The secretary called it a tragedy that people in the southern part of the peninsula live in a thriving democracy with a booming economy, while people of the same culture, but who live in the north, "are depressed and denied and live in fear."
Rumsfeld noted that the United States has been trying to work with China, Russia, South Korea and Japan to convince the North Korean government to "conduct themselves in a civilized way."
"Time will show how successful that will be," he said. "But certainly that's the hope. That's the president's hope; that's my hope; and that's the path we're on."