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Secretary of Defense Message on the Global War on Terrorism

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2003 – For more than a year, the brave men and women of the U.S. military, together with their civilian counterparts in the Department of Defense, have been working to preserve peace and defend freedom against terrorist forces and those who would harbor and protect them around the world.

To each of you, and your families, we express our profound gratitude and appreciation for the risks you undertake and the sacrifices you make so that all Americans can enjoy the blessings of freedom.

This war, as the president has said, is not one of our making. It was thrust upon us. We act in self-defense -- in deliberate response to acts of war directed against the American people, and to prevent future acts from claiming even more innocent life. We are engaged in a global war, and it is being waged on many fronts using all the instruments of national power.

In recent weeks and months, the president has called the world's attention to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. He has rallied the United Nations to enforce its resolutions calling for the regime's disarmament. To assist this diplomatic offensive and to preserve future options, adjustments to current mobilization, deployment and rotation cycles may be necessary, adjustments that may mean longer tours of duty than you may have expected.

While the times, places and conditions of deployment cannot now be precisely known, we do recognize the uncertainty these circumstances may create for those in uniform, the civilians who work beside them, and the families and loved ones, without whose support their sacrifices would not be possible.

I know the secretaries and chiefs of the military services are communicating with you in greater detail about these matters, but I want you to know that understanding the impacts of these deployments is important to us.

Be assured that the president will not decide to commit forces unless conditions require it, and only as a last resort. Should action be necessary, you will have what you need to carry out the missions assigned. Thank you for all you do for our nation and the world.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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