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Military News Briefs for the Week of Feb. 16, 2001

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2001 – (This is a summary of the American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending Feb. 16, 2001)


Bush Calls Guard/Reserve Troops 'Full-Time Patriots'

President George W. Bush thanked Guardsmen, reservists and their civilian employers here Feb. 14 for their patriotism and service in support of the nation's security.

The president, accompanied by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, flew on Air Force One to Yeager Air National Guard airfield here. The two reviewed West Virginia Air National Guard and Army Guard and Reserve troops.

Bush later spoke with employers of Guardsmen and reservists, attended a disaster relief operations drill and delivered an address in an airfield hangar to a packed audience that included U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, Gov. BobĀ  Wise, West Virginia Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, and other distinguished officials.

A former National Guardsman himself -- he was a fighter pilot in the Texas Air Guard -- Bush lauded reserve component members of West Virginian and all the other states, citing their selfless service as citizen soldiers. Bush is the first former National Guardsman elected to the White House since 1948, when President Truman, a World War I Army Guard artillery captain, won a term in his own right.

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Bush: U.S. Will be 'Sparing' on Overseas Commitments

President George W. Bush said he is concerned about overextending U.S. troops with peacekeeping duties.

"While my administration will honor the commitments previous administrations have made, we will be very sparing in how we commit our troops overseas," Bush said during an American Forces Information Service interview Feb. 12.

He said he understands that frequent deployments wear on morale, and he doesn't want to see that happen. "We will do everything we can to make sure we don't end up trying to be the world's peacekeepers," Bush said shortly after a speech here at the East Coast's largest Army base. "What we are is the world's peacemakers. And in order to make the peace, we must be prepared and strong."

The president reminisced about his own days in uniform as a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, saying he was most impressed with how well the military can train its personnel. "If they could train somebody like me to fly ahigh-performance fighter aircraft, they can train just about anybody to fulfill a mission," Bush said, showing a little self-deprecating humor.

"We must never forget that our military has been some of the greatest training grounds for youngsters of all walks of life," he said.

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Bush Addresses NATO, U.S. Military Transformation

President Bush spoke about NATO and the DoD top-down review during his Feb. 13 visit to this sprawling U.S. military installation.

Bush, standing in front of Allied Command, Atlantic -- the only NATO installation in the United States -- said it is because of NATO "there was no World War III."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanied the president. Army Gen. William Kernan, supreme allied commander, Atlantic, was host.

Bush said the alliance was successful because the countries stuck together through the Cold War. He called on the nations to continue to work together to guarantee economic prosperity, military security and freedom.

"While NATO is changing to meet new threats, the purpose of NATO remains permanent," he said. "As we have seen in the Balkans, together, united, we can deter the designs of aggression and spare the continent from the effects of ethnic hatred."

The president's message to U.S. allies is that America will cooperate in the work of peace and will consult with them about technology, diplomacy and missile defense. "In fighting wars and above all, in preventing wars, we must work as one," he said.

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Civilians Aboard Sub During Collision, Navy Says

Navy officials confirm that civilian guests were in the control room of the USS Greeneville when the sub collided with and sank a Japanese fishing vessel Feb. 9 south of Hawaii.

The accident occurred while the Greeneville was practicing an "emergency main ballast blow," Navy officials said. Sub crews practice the surfacing maneuver, as its name implies, for emergencies, Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters during a Feb. 13 Pentagon press briefing.

Navy officials said 16 civilians were reportedly aboard the Greeneville at the time of the accident. They said Navy ships routinely take business and academic leaders and other civilians on orientation cruises to learn about what submarines do and how they support the nation's national defense. They did not comment further.

After the Greeneville was on the surface, the crew spotted survivors in liferafts and radioed for help right away, the Pentagon spokesman said. The Navy and Coast Guard began immediate rescue efforts for the crew and passengers of the sunken Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru. Twenty-six of the 35 people aboard were rescued. Nine are still listed as missing.

The submarine crew did not take part in rescuing survivors because of rough seas at the time, Quigley added. A sub in rough seas "is a lousy platform to recover people from the water or bring rafts alongside," he noted.

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Some People Uncomfortable With Ethnic Observances, General Says

(Visit the DoD "African-American History Month" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/africanamerhistory/.)

"I'm a little anxious about the subject of African American History Month because a lot of people are uncomfortable with that subject," Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Clifford L. Stanley told the packed Pentagon auditorium here Feb. 8.

Stanley, keynote speaker at the DoD observance of African American History Month, said the president, DoD, Congress and the nation may recognize African American History Month, but a lot of people still take exception to it.

When historian Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926, he said entire chapters of Negro history were missing and should be talked about, said Stanley, deputy commanding general of the Combat Development Command, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

When Woodson started to highlight African American history, the nation was divided by segregation, Stanley noted. "The road is still not level. We've still got a long way to go," he said. Today, Stanley is one of eight African American Marine Corps generals -- the largest number the Corps has had at one time.

Stanley said he hasn't forgotten the Jim Crow laws that barred African Americans from jobs and public places like hotels, restaurants and other facilities. He hasn't forgotten African Americans living in fear of racially motivated violence.

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