Leaders Praise Troops as Key to Success in Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2006 Top military and defense leaders today praised the dedication and commitment of U.S. servicemembers, as well as the families that support them, as the key to success in the terror war.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, praised the caliber of the men and women in uniform on the front lines against terrorism in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Over the past few years, I’ve had the honor of meeting countless young men and women in uniform, all volunteers, who have answered our country’s call,” Rumsfeld told the committee.
“Our troops represent the finest and most professional troops in history,” he said. “I think of these remarkable people every day. I know that everything we do in the Department of Defense and what you do on this committee affects them and their wonderfully supportive families.”
Pace lauded the more than 1 million servicemembers who have served in the Central Command area of operations since Sept. 11, 2001. “They’ve done so with incredible bravery and sacrifice and performance that has made us all proud,” he said. “Our troops know what they’re doing, they get it, (and) they’re proud of what they’re doing.”
Thanks to these troops, most Americans can live relatively unaffected by the war and those around the world can have hope for a better future, he said. “Some 2.4 million Americans -- active, Guard and reserve -- have the privilege of defending over 300 million of our fellow citizens and countless millions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” he said.
The chairman cited the families who “have served this nation as well as anyone who has worn the uniform.” He gave special recognition to families of the 172nd Stryker Brigade, who learned last week that their soldiers’ deployment in Iraq has been extended up to four months. These families “once again are sacrificing that we might provide the strength needed on the battlefield,” he said.
Abizaid, just returned from the Middle East, said he was impressed to see U.S. troops who “continue to perform with great professional calm and determination under dangerous and difficult circumstances.”
“These are incredibly dedicated and resourceful professionals,” he said.
The United States “must be ever-mindful of the sacrifice” its troops have made, Abizaid said, particularly the nearly 200,000 who serve today in harm’s way and more than 3,000 who have given their lives. “We owe them and their families an enormous debt of gratitude,” he said.
Pace told the committee the main question troops ask is whether the American people support what they are doing. “And when we point to the numerous ways in which the American people support it,” he said, “including what this Congress does to provide resources, it reinforces with them the goodness of what they’ve dedicated their lives to do.”