President Visits Pentagon for Operational Updates
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2005 President Bush visited the Pentagon today for briefings by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior leaders about two major military operations under way and to personally thank about 50 troops for their service.
President Bush shakes hands with Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class
George Acffalle, of Guam, during his visit to the Pentagon on Jan. 13. Bush and
Vice President Dick Cheney received briefings by Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and his senior staff on the tsunami relief efforts of Operation
Unified Assistance and the global war on terrorism. From left to right are Air
Force Staff Sgt. Kevin O' Grady, of North Brunswick, N.J.; Marine Staff Sgt.
Toye Hickman, of Piqua, Ohio; Acffalle; Army Sgt. Tyiesha Panda, of Cairo,
Ill.; and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Darrell Archard, of Glens Falls. N.Y. Photo by
Tech. Sgt. James Bowman, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other White House officials accompanied the president on his first visit to the building since last May. They met with Rumsfeld; Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively; and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, among others.
Rumsfeld arranged for a secure videoconference to the tsunami-stricken Indian Ocean area. Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and other commanders on the ground in support of the relief effort provided first- hand accounts of its progress.
"I've got to tell you, our military is making a significant difference in providing relief and aid and help and compassion for those who have suffered," the president said following the briefing.
Bush said he was impressed by how quickly the military responded to the crisis and the extensiveness of the assets deployed to help those affected by the devastation.
"There's a lot of talk about how some in the world don't appreciate America," the president said. "Well, I can assure you that those who have been helped by our military appreciate America."
Bush told reporters the group also discussed another major military focus, the war on terror. "We're constantly reviewing our strategy as to how to defeat the enemy," he said. "I'm mindful of the fact that we constantly have got to review our plans and never lose our will."
The United States fully recognizes that the war on terror will require a coordinated effort, he said, not only within the U.S. government, but also among countries around the world that "understand the stakes of this war." Bush said he's pleased with the response from around the world and appreciates "so many nations understanding that we must work together to defeat these killers."
Following the briefings, the president shook hands with about 50 enlisted soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines assigned to the Pentagon and thanked them for their service.