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Italian Armed Forces Day Reception
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C., Thursday, November 06, 2008

Buona sera!  Good evening…..  It’s always terrific to be here at the Italian Embassy.

Mr. Ambassador—it was thoughtful of you to invite me here this evening.  Let me add my congratulations to you and all Italians as you celebrate Italian Armed Forces Day!

The United States and Italy share a long history and our people and leaders enjoy close bonds of friendship. 

Recent estimates show nearly 18 million Italian Americans living in the U.S., and they’re contributing to our country in so many ways. 

Over the years, Italy has been an active and willing partner in defense of freedom and liberty around the globe.  From 2003-2006, Italy’s military forces participated in major combat operations in Iraq—shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. 

In addition, over 2,000 Italian servicemen and women are deployed to Afghanistan in support of NATO’s International Security and Assistance Force.  There are also over 2,000 deployed to Kosovo, and over 2,400 are supporting United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping and security operations in Lebanon.

Italy is a crucial ally to the U.S., and by partnering together, we are helping to ensure a safer and more secure world. 

Mr. Ambassador….  Giovanni….  I thank you for your very hard work and great success in strengthening the strong bonds between our nations, and for your personal friendship. 

I congratulate everyone on this special occasion!  God bless you and may God bless all Italians and Americans who stand the watch for freedom.