Cheney Tells Troops America Must Remain on Offensive
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2004 The American military must stay on the offensive if it wishes to end terrorism, Vice President Dick Cheney told airmen and their families at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, today.
Vice President Dick Cheney gestures March 26 during a speech to service members and Air Force civilians at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The vice president expressed his and the president's appreciation for Air Force people. Photo by Spencer P. Lane
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Cheney said that same spirit of adventure continues at Wright-Patterson, now the home of the Aeronautical Systems Center. "You are helping our country keep that vital edge in aerospace technology," he said. Men and women at the base helped develop the unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Global Hawk and the Predator that have been essential to locating and defeating enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"When we needed quick improvements in the F-15E Strike Eagle and the C-17 (Globemaster III transport aircraft), you got the job done in record time," he said. "You're one of the reasons that we're winning the war on terror. You're the finest air force in the world."
Wright-Patterson is an active base. "Doctors and specialists on this base care for the wounded," Cheney said. "The pilots and crews of the 445th Wing carried out medical evacuations. Your C-141s brought troops and equipment to the Afghan and Iraqi theaters, and B-1 bombers, supported from Wright-Patt, helped to bring down the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Cheney said America is fighting the first war of the 21st century. Terrorists declared war on Sept. 11, 2001. "That day changed everything," the vice president said. "In the space of a few hours, we saw the violence and the grief that terrorists can inflict. And we had a glimpse of the even greater harm they wish to do to us. The terrorists hate our country, they hate our freedom, they hate everything we stand for in the world. They seek even deadlier weapons, and they would use them against us if they could."
The United States must improve its defenses, but there really is only one option: to take the fight to the enemy, he said. "We are breaking up cells and disrupting plots. We're staying on offense, tracking al Qaeda around the world," he said.
Cheney said the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq are victories in the war on terror. And now America is helping those countries secure the victory by establishing free and democratic countries. But it will not be an easy task, he said. Former regime loyalists and foreign fighters are challenging the coalition in Iraq and in Afghanistan. "We understand what is at stake in this fight," he said. "We will confront and defeat the terrorists at the heart and center of their power so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities."