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

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

FORT STEWART, Ga., Feb. 13, 2001 – 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 a high-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.

He also wanted troops to know he takes his responsibility as commander in chief very seriously. “Responsibility begins with trust,” Bush said. “The bond of trust between the military and the people really begins with the commander-in-chief earning the trust of the people, then conveying the trust that the people have to the military -- not only in word, but in deed.”

The president took a step in that direction earlier when he announced before 6,000 soldiers and their families that he plans to spend $5.7 billion on quality-of-life issues in the 2002 Defense Department budget.

“The people who wear our uniform are some of the best we have to offer in our country,” Bush said. “The secretary (of defense) and I want them paid well and treated well.”

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