Cheney Praises Soldiers, War Accomplishments at Fort Riley
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 19, 2006 America is a nation that keeps its promises, and so U.S. troops deployed in Iraq are continuing to fight terrorists there as the new Iraqi government gets onto its feet, Vice President Richard B. Cheney told soldiers at Fort Riley, Kan., yesterday.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney talks with U.S. Army soldiers at Fort Riley, Kan., during his visit to the post April 18. Photo by April Blackmon
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
President Bush has vowed that the United States won't quit the war against global terrorism, Cheney said during his remarks. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, U.S. military forces have been deployed worldwide to engage terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
"We are a nation that keeps its word, and so we will carry out a strategy for victory in Iraq," Cheney said to an estimated 10,000 soldiers at the historic former frontier Army outpost.
The vice president also presented a unit citation for valor to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division that's based at Fort Riley. The 1st Brigade spent a year in Iraq beginning in September 2003.
Cheney said the 1st Brigade soldiers labored to build good relations with the Iraqi people and sponsored civil works projects to improve citizens' lives. "And you have protected them and your fellow Americans by directing lethal power against the enemy. You've written a proud new chapter in the history of the 'Devil Brigade,'" Cheney said to 1st Brigade soldiers.
The U.S. strategy for Iraq is clear, Cheney said. Three years into that conflict, American military forces in Iraq continue to confront an insurgency made up of supporters of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda-affiliated fighters, and other terrorists.
Cheney vowed that U.S. tactics in Iraq will remain flexible. "And we'll keep at the work until we finish the job," he said.
"We can expect further acts of violence and destruction by the enemies of freedom," the vice president predicted. However, "progress has been steady, and we can be confident going forward," he said.
The Iraqis voted for democracy and have "shown they value their own liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny," Cheney said.
As Iraqi security forces gain in numbers and experience and the Iraqi political process moves forward, the United States will be able to decrease troop levels without losing the capacity to defeat terrorists, Cheney said.
However, he said, any decisions about U.S. troop levels in Iraq "will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the judgment of our commanders -- not by artificial time lines set by politicians in Washington, D.C."
Fort Riley's soldiers "are writing a proud chapter in the history of freedom," Cheney said. The American people appreciate their service and sacrifices and "do not support a policy of passivity, resignation, and defeatism in the face of terror," the vice president said.
"Americans know about the heroism displayed every day in this war," Cheney told the soldiers. "We stand in total admiration when we learn of soldiers who run through heavy fire to assist wounded comrades or dive into canals to pull men out of an overturned vehicle or face heavy engagement against insurgent positions or conduct dangerous patrols."
American servicemembers and their families have experienced much personal sacrifice during the war, Cheney acknowledged. "Americans do recognize it, and our whole country is filled with respect and with gratitude," he told the Fort Riley soldiers.
The policy of using preemptive military action to engage terrorists before they can again attack the United States is the correct one, the vice president said, because terrorists "are invited by the perception of weakness."
The United States decided to engage these enemies far from home, so as not have to face them on the streets of American cities, Cheney said.
There's still hard work ahead in Iraq, Cheney said, because the terrorists are ruthless, amoral enemies that consider that country as the central battlefield of the war. If terrorists succeed in driving U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq, they'd then use that country as a launching pad for renewed attacks on America and its allies, he said.
"The only way to lose this fight is to quit -- and quitting is not an option. That's not going to happen on our watch," the vice president vowed.
The United States is making the world a better place by confronting global terrorists and deposing tyrants like former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Cheney said. The terrorists "will fail because the resolve of America and our allies will not be shaken," he said, and "because soldiers like you are standing in their way."
The United States "is a good and generous country," the vice president said. And, the conduct of American soldiers deployed to Iraq shows the Iraqi people the true character of the United States, he said.