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Soldiers Cheer Commander in Chief; Unending 'Hooahs' Herald Bush Visit

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2003 – There was no mistaking that America's soldiers are firmly behind their commander in chief during a presidential visit to the Army's Fort Hood, Texas, today.

The troops there interrupted President Bush's short speech no less than 24 times with that unique Army seal of approval - "Hooah!"

Bush spoke to troops from the "great 1st Cavalry Division" and "the mighty 4th Infantry Division" before having lunch with soldiers during a noontime visit.

The president noted 1,300 Fort Hood soldiers are deployed in various locations overseas and another 1,600 are preparing to go.

"In the months ahead, more soldiers from Fort Hood may be given other essential missions," Bush said. "But wherever you serve or wherever you may be sent, you can know that America is grateful and your commander in chief is confident in your abilities and proud of your service."

(Lots of hooahs here.)

Bush reminded the soldiers why America is fighting a war against terrorism. "(The terrorists) don't value innocent life. They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers, and that's the way we're going to treat them," he said to rounds of hooahs. "They reach across oceans to target the innocent. They seek weapons of mass murder on a massive scale. The terrorists will not be stopped by mercy or by conscience, but they will be stopped.

"And they will be stopped by the will and the might of the United States of America," he said. The continuing roars of approval - "Hooah! Hooah!" - were deafening.

Bush outlined the military's successes in Afghanistan and spoke of the challenges ahead in dealing with other rogue regimes.

"In the case of North Korea, the world must continue to speak with one voice to turn that regime away from its nuclear weapons," he said.

Iraq is a "grave threat" to the United States and its allies. The president ticked off a list of things that prove the level of this threat: Saddam Hussein has publicly declared his hatred for America; Iraq has a record for torturing its own people and of aggression against its neighbors; Iraq has used weapons of mass destruction.

"That's why I say Iraq is a threat, a real threat," Bush said. Still, the president said, he hopes Iraq changes course and complies with U.N resolutions mandating the county's disarmament.

But, if not, "America will act deliberately; America will act decisively; and America will prevail because we've got the finest military in the world. (Paroxysms of hooahs.) We are ready," Bush said, over the hooahs. "We're prepared, and should the United States be compelled to act, our troops will be acting in the finest traditions of America. "

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