Bush: U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Serving on 'Frontier of Freedom'
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2006 President Bush today thanked U.S. troops serving on the "frontier of freedom" at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
President Bush speaks to U.S. servicemembers March 1 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Bush, in a surprise visit, told the servicemembers their role in the global war on terrorism is as important as ever and praised them for their determination. Photo by Pfc. Brian Schroeder, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"I'm proud of our United States military," he said during a surprise visit to Afghanistan, his first trip to the country. "Many of you volunteered for service after Sept. 11, 2001. You saw that our nation was attacked, and when the country called upon you, you said, 'Let me serve.'"
Bush told the troops they are accomplishing two important missions in Afghanistan. "One is finding an enemy and bringing them to justice so they don't hurt our fellow citizens again," he said. "And the other thing you're doing is to help this new democracy not only survive, but to flourish."
The United States eventually will win the long war against terrorism, but victory will require "steadfast determination," he said.
"The only thing they can do is to kill innocent lives and try to shake our will," he said of terrorists. "But they don't understand the United States of America. We will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins."
The president said U.S. troops have played a vital role in helping pave the way for Afghanistan's new democratic institutions and for bringing peace to a country that was once ruled by the tyrannical Taliban government. "You're helping to change this part of the world ... with your courage and your sacrifice," he said to the troops.
Even though Afghanistan has a history of tyranny, its future belongs to democracy, Bush said. "People ought to be allowed to worship freely and speak their minds freely after living under the grips of the tyrant," he said.
Bush said the successful establishment of democracy in Afghanistan is a signal to the world about freedom's potential. "Democracies yield peace, and that's what we want," he said. "A neighborhood that has been desperate for light instead of darkness is going to see what's possible when freedom arrives."
He added that all people deserve to live in freedom because it is an inherent universal value. "The United States of America believes that freedom is universal. Freedom is not our gift to the world, freedom is the gift from an Almighty to every single person in this world," he said.