Cheney Praises Troops in Guam for Ensuring Security in Difficult Times
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2007 Vice President Dick Cheney thanked U.S. troops serving in Guam today for representing America in a strategically important part of the world during a critical time.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Doug Owens, commander of the 36th Wing, greets Vice President Dick Cheney on his arrival Feb. 22 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. White House photo by David Bohrer
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking to servicemembers in a hangar at Andersen Air Force Base, the vice president praised them for showing “the confident spirit of the United States military, our devotion to the cause of peace, and our commitment to the security of our friends and allies in this part of the world.”
Cheney emphasized Guam’s strategic importance, which will increase even more in the upcoming years as Marines from Okinawa relocate there.
“By positioning forces on Guam, the United States can move quickly and effectively to protect our friends, to defend our interests, to bring relief in times of emergency, and to keep the sea lanes open to commerce and closed to terrorists,” he said. “This island may be small, but it has tremendous importance to the peace and security in the world.”
Cheney told the troops they’re serving “during a time of great consequence for the United States” that’s putting military skill and national resolve to the test.
“Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything for our country as we began fighting a new kind of war against determined enemies,” he said.
Progress has been made, but the threat remains, Cheney told the group.
“The enemy that appeared on 9/11 has been wounded, is off balance and on the run, yet still very active, still seeking new recruits, still trying to kill Americans,” he said. “Since the war began, we've struck major blows against the al Qaeda network that attacked America. We've removed two dictatorships that sponsored terror, liberated 50 million people from tyranny and stood by young democracies, as America always does.”
The work continues, he said, because terrorists view the whole world as a battlefield and don’t care who they kill as they spread their hateful extremist ideology.
“They want to seize control of a country in the Middle East, so they can acquire a base for launching attacks, and oil wealth to finance their ambitions,” he said. “They want to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and eventually to establish a totalitarian empire that encompasses the region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way around to Indonesia.”
Intent on reaching that goal, terrorists “have declared an intention to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause great harm to the United States,” he said.
The United States remains their prime target, he said. “They hate us, they hate our country, they hate the liberties for which we stand. They want to destroy our way of life, so that freedom no longer has a home and a defender in this world,” he said.
Cheney said this leaves the United States with only one option: “to rise to America's defense, to take the fight directly to the enemy, and to accept no outcome but victory.”
Cheney praised troops in Guam for the part they are playing in the war on terror, citing their units by name: the 36th Wing, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., which recently began a four-month deployment in Guam, among them.
“You serve in a time of great need, and we're fortunate every day to have you on duty for America,” the vice president said. “I want you to know that President Bush is committed to taking care of you and your families.”
Cheney told the troops the administration is asking Congress for significant funding increases to improve the quality of life on U.S. bases. “Our country doesn't take freedom for granted, and we shouldn't take our military for granted either,” he said.
He expressed thanks to Guamanians who serve in the U.S. military and presented the Airman’s Medal to Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Greiman, who rescued swimmers struggling in severe rip tides. Cheney presented the Exceptional Service Award to Tracy McVay, a civilian who assisted in the rescue.