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Cohen Pays Tribute to Armed Forces

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 1997 – With the Berlin Wall reduced to rubble, the Soviet empire dissolved and the Cold War a distant memory, why should the United States maintain the best armed forces in the world?

During a tribute to America's armed forces at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 16, Defense Secretary William Cohen said he is often asked that question. The answer, he said, is "America cannot simply zip itself into a continental cocoon and watch the world unfold on CNN. We must try to shape events so that they will favor the interests of the United States and those of our allies."

America wants to promote a world "where there is more democracy in more nations, more stability in more regions and thus, fewer threats to American interests and fewer risks to our forces," he said.

"We have no intention -- and we cannot afford -- to become the world's policeman," Cohen said. "By the same token, we cannot afford to become a prisoner of world events. We must and we will remain engaged in world affairs."

Engagement takes diplomacy and military power, Cohen told service members and family members. "The military is the muscle behind America's will," he said.

"That is why we sent you out into the world, forward deployed, out there, every single day and night. On the front lines, the flight lines and the supply lines. At sea, in the air and on foot. On the tip of the spear, providing the steel in the sword of freedom, offering comfort to allies and caution to antagonists. By your duty, your commitment and your sacrifice, you are ensuring America remains the master of her destiny. ...

"It is the weight on your shoulders, the miles you march, the sorties you fly, the leagues you sail and the time you spend away from home -- it is this service and sacrifice that permits our country to thrive and prosper in safety and security. ... So what I want to say to you today is simple, from the soul and shared by millions of Americans: We need you. We thank you. We are proud of you."

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