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Message From Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff on One-Year Anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2002 – This week, we marked the first anniversary of the start of our combat operations against terrorism. The foundation for our success is no secret. The credit belongs to you who serve as part of our armed forces: our sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, DoD civilians and our military families.

Over the past year, I've visited hundreds of you overseas and around the United States. You are dedicated and determined. You have left your homes, your families and, in the case of our Guard and Reserve personnel, you left your jobs. Your service is an example of selflessness and sacrifice.

Those of you that I've met are no different from the hundreds of thousands of others nobly serving -- at home and abroad. All are doing the extraordinary.

Over this past year, our Nation's armed forces have achieved a significant measure of success in the War on Terrorism. A year ago at this time, few predicted the speed or the effectiveness with which we would eliminate the major terrorist haven in Afghanistan. It was a land-locked country. We had no military bases in the vicinity. We had no major war plan to remove the Taliban from power.

Then, twenty-seven days after the terrorists struck our nation, this joint team unleashed a powerful and lethal campaign. Two months later, our men and women, in concert with our allies and friends, freed Afghanistan. With the help of the international community, we also helped avert a massive famine.

This campaign has been one for the record books. It included the deepest amphibious operation in our Marine Corps history -- over 400 miles into hostile territory. It included the highest elevation that our soldiers fought a pitched battle -- at 10,000 feet above sea level. It included the longest combat sortie on record for our Air Force -- 44 hours in length. Most significant of all, it entailed the fewest war-combatant injuries and the least collateral damage of any major military operation in history.

It was the first time we employed the C-17 in a medium threat environment to airdrop supplies. It was the first time we shared simultaneously a video picture from an unmanned aerial vehicle with the headquarters and the aircrew over the target. No other nation can operate such advanced technology as our armed forces.

While these examples reflect how technology has changed, the most important factor remains the incredible talent and dedication of our men and women in uniform. You who serve -- your adaptability and agility, your courage and character, your discipline and determination, are legendary.

You tackle unpredictable challenges in innovative ways. You make things happen in a dynamic environment. Many of you are 19 and 20 years old. Yet you display the maturity and competence usually associated with much more seasoned troops. You're the driving force in our success.

Our families serve superbly. They provide incredible strength for us all. They endure with patience and grace through extended hours and long periods of separation. Our families deserve our deepest gratitude.

In this war on terrorism, there is more ahead of us than behind us. Three things remain constant.

First, the survival of our nation, our liberties and our way of life will continue to be at risk. Second, our nation will continue to call upon your talents and professionalism. Third, I am confident that you are up to the task. You'll respond as our Armed Forces always have, with courage, honor and sacrifice.

I am privileged to serve with you. May God bless you and your families. And may God bless America.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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