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Vice President: Army 'Hard at Work' to Transform in a New Era

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2003 – "The most important ingredient for the Army's success will be the soldiers who take the risk and make the sacrifices and who win our wars," Vice President Dick Cheney, told a Pentagon audience today during a ceremony to salute the Army's 228th birthday.

The service's birthday is June 14, also Flag Day.

The vice president also reminded the audience that the fundamental interest of the United States is to confront and defeat aggressive threats whenever they arise. "We find our greatest security in the advance of human freedom," he added.

That security and freedom have come from the sacrifices of soldiers, Cheney said. Among the ceremony's guests were three soldiers injured and captured during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.

"Throughout its history the United States Army has served and defended the cause of freedom, and many brave Americans have laid down their lives so that liberty could triumph."

Cheney pointed out that America seeks "a world at peace." He added that the best way to the keep that peace is to make sure "our military power is second to none."

"That is why even as it faces a daunting array of challenges around the globe, the U.S. Army is also hard at work transforming itself to confront the threats of a new era," he said.

Cheney said he is "confident" the Army will be well prepared to meet all of tomorrow's security challenges. "It will be more agile, more flexible and more technologically advanced than it is today," he noted.

In brief remarks introducing the vice president, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld contrasted today's Army to the Continental Army of June 14, 1775.

"The Army has gone from liberating Boston to liberating Baghdad, from cavalry charges to tanks racing across deserts, from the snows of Valley Forge to the sandstorms of central Iraq, from patriots with single-shot muskets, to Patriot missiles downing enemy missiles," he said.

"We salute the doughboys, the GIs, the buck privates, and yes, the officers, the generals as well, soldiers of all ranks and roles."

Rumsfeld also took a moment to salute former Army chief of staff Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who retired June 11. Rumsfeld said he "made a difference" by helping transform the Army into a 21st century fighting force. Army Gen. Jack Keane is serving as acting chief of staff until a new Army chief is confirmed.

In his comments, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz cautioned that the war on terrorism is not over.

Despite the end of the war in Iraq, Wolfowitz said the fight against terrorism goes on, that soldiers are risking their lives "to capture and kill terrorists."

"The fight on terror is going to be a long fight, but have no doubt about it, we will win," he said.

Wolfowitz also said that the Army "10 years from now will be as astonishing to those of you serving today as you are to your predecessors. This Army is changing and moving forward. We are ahead of our enemies, we will beat our enemies, because we will keep getting better and better."

Wolfowitz observed that the head Army of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, at the ceremony, was not the one who deserves the credit for the U.S. victory in Iraq.

"He (Franks) would scold me if I didn't say that he knows better than anyone that he didn't win this victory," Wolfowitz said as Franks nodded in agreement. "It was won by brave young men and women who risked their lives and their limbs on the ground, and who put the plan together and fought the fight and deserve the credit."

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