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Cheney: Anti-Terror War Is Test Of U.S. Character

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2006 – The United States will win the war against global terrorism, Vice President Dick Cheney said at a Missouri military air base today, calling the conflict a test of American character.

Terrorists in Iraq are making a stand now, and testing America’s resolve, Cheney told servicemembers at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Sedalia.

Although much work lies ahead, “we will prevail in the war on terror, and that victory will mean a better and safer world for our children and grandchildren,” the vice president vowed.

The U.S. military is fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney explained, “because we are a nation that keeps its word, because we understand what is at stake in that part of the world.”

The terrorists fear democracy, Cheney said, because as freedom grows, their ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal.

“The advance of free institutions in the broader Middle East will produce a much safer world for our children and grandchildren,” Cheney said. The war against terrorism is a battle for the future of civilization, he emphasized, and is well worth fighting.

“And, it’s a battle we are going to win,” he pledged.

Al Qaeda wants to frighten Americans into a policy of retreat, Cheney said. U.S. troops are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq “because our security demands it,” he added.

American and coalition forces liberated the Afghan and Iraqi people from brutal tyrannies, Cheney pointed out. America “will not permit new dictatorships” thjat would again threaten the homeland to rise up in either Afghanistan or Iraq, he said.

Enemies of freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq are employing terror tactics against coalition forces and innocent civilians to intimidate them, Cheney said. “But they will not succeed,” he asserted.

U.S. and allied forces will confront and defeat terrorists “at the heart and center of their power, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities,” Cheney told the airmen.

Cheney praised the reach and accuracy of the base’s stealthy B-2 bomber fleet that pounded enemy targets half a world away in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It was an impressive feat, and helped bring about the first of many victories in the war on terror,” Cheney recalled.

B-2 bombers were also “critical in the liberation of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein,” the vice president noted. B-2 crews based from Whiteman flew more than 40 sorties to Iraq, he said, and delivered hundreds of munitions against enemy targets.

Several military members at Whiteman have been awarded decorations for their actions during the war on terror, the vice president noted.

“All of you can take pride in these fellow members of ‘Team Whiteman,’” Cheney said. Yet, all airmen, he emphasized, belong to “the finest Air Force that ever flew.”

The terrorists declared war on the United States many years ago, Cheney said. They killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983; and, in 1993 the terrorists killed 19 U.S. soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia. Other attacks have occurred over the years in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Africa.

“Believing they could strike us with impunity, believing that was the way to change U.S. policy, they attacked us on 9/11 here in the homeland and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens,” Cheney said.

The terrorists cannot beat U.S. forces in a stand-up fight, Cheney pointed out, but they are convinced they can break the will of the American people.

The only way the terrorists can win, Cheney pointed out, “is if we lose our nerve (and) abandon the mission.” But the world can be assured of the United States’ resolve, he said.

“We will stand by our friends and continue to train Iraqi forces so that they can defend their own country,” Cheney said, to make Iraq into a source of stability in a troubled region of the world.

Any troop-level changes in Iraq will be driven by commanders’ assessments of the conditions on the ground, Cheney asserted, and “not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C.”

The U.S. goal in Iraq is victory, Cheney said, and the tactics used to achieve victory in Iraq are subject to evolution, he noted.

“Our job now is to hang tough, as Americans have done so many times in the past,” Cheney said.

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