Dr. Burd…thank you for that kind introduction.
To the leadership of the Marine Corps—thanks for inviting me to join you this morning. It’s a distinct pleasure to be with you and your wonderful spouses. I thank all for your service to America. The Marines are unquestionably the finest military in the world and I’m proud to be associated with you.
It’s been nearly seven years since I started working at the Pentagon and, for a short time, at that Start-Up called the Department of Homeland Security.
I arrived as a fresh faced, spry and innocent 63-year-old when the world was a far different place than it became for all of us on 9-11 … the day that changed the world.
I was four years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and it’s not lost on me that on 9-11, my granddaughter was four years old. On that day, terrorists turned civilian airliners into guided missiles, and killed 3,000 people of 60 different nationalities.
Once again, our nation and the world were drawn into war by a relatively small group of extremists who follow a misguided ideology.
I’ve often thought … why did the terrorists kill 3,000 people that day? I’ve concluded that the reason they killed 3,000 was that they didn’t know how to kill 30,000, or 300,000, or 3 million. But, they would have if they could have – and they are still trying.
If you agree with that answer, then you also know that our nation cannot go back to the more comfortable time before the attacks. We cannot put the lid back on Pandora’s Box.
The American Experiment has faced challenges before and we have always passed the test with innovative tactics, steadfast resolve and bold leadership … and we will again!
As a Nation, we are willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure for our founding belief—freedom. America’s fundamental value is freedom for our citizens – and for other people around the world … and in so doing we better secure our own freedoms.
In his recent address to the United Nations, President Bush cited the responsibility of all nations to stand up for freedom and liberty. A few of those excerpts are as follows:
“Terrorists and extremists who kill the innocent are a threat to civilized people everywhere. All civilized nations must work together to stop them by sharing intelligence about their networks, choking off their finances, and capturing or killing their operatives.
In the long run, the best way to defeat the extremists is to defeat their dark ideology with a more hopeful vision of liberty.
* Citizens in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq have made the choice for democracy, and every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them. The extremists are doing everything in their power to bring down these young democracies, and the people of Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq have asked for our help.
Every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under dictatorship. In Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. Americans are also outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear.
The United Nations must insist on free speech, free assembly, and, ultimately, free and competitive elections.”
At a recent hearing, Secretary Gates was asked how he would define victory over terrorism. He said, first, that the conflict “will be with us for decades” – so all of us will be grappling with this for a while. In terms of the goal, he said that terrorism will not be eliminated altogether, but it can be reduced to “a level where you can continue daily life without feeling imperiled, or putting civil liberties at risk”. And, the way to get there, he said, is through “political solutions”, “economic development”, and “partnership with other nations”.
Less than a month ago, I celebrated my 70th birthday, and I reflected that the state of the world has undergone dramatic changes in the past 70 years. Likely, far more so than any other time in human history … and, in total context, for the better.
In 1937 America and the World were recovering from a devastating economic depression.
- Opportunity for trade was severely limited.
- Communications and cultural interaction was difficult and relatively rare.
- Very little of the World was truly free.
- Communists in the Soviet Union were engaged in bloody purges as Stalin consolidated power.
- In Asia, Tojo’s forces were making the first incursions that would lead to the War in the Pacific.
- In Europe, Spain was engulfed in a brutal Civil War that tested the blitzkrieg tactics, which the Nazi and Fascist forces would soon unleash plunging the planet into the most horrific war in human history.
Even though I was very young, I still remember the dark but also hopeful days of World War II.
One of those early memories has stayed with me. One day in 1945, workmen came to the square where several streets intersected near my home on Mulberry Street. It was the spot where my brother and I played with other neighborhood kids.
On this one afternoon, as I well remember, a simple sign was erected that read, “Francis Callahan, Jr. Square.“
That night I asked my mom who Callahan was. Mom told me that Francis Callahan was a young man who lived in a house on the square. He was a Marine and had been killed on Iwo Jima. His family erected the sign in his honor.
That memory remains vivid with me after all these years.
Because of the sacrifices of thousands like Francis Callahan, Jr., America and Freedom triumphed in World War II … and I was able to live a life of freedom and opportunity.
That victory was made possible by the extraordinary men and women in uniform, and by the dedicated civilian men and women who were the backbone of our industrial might.
All of us today live the lives we do because of what they did for us. When the war ended, people felt entitled to a period of peace, but communism did not cooperate.
Rather, the Nation found itself again in conflict – in Korea, the first bloody battle of the long Cold War.
In those difficult days, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice…their choice”.
Our Nation and our allies faced the Cold War with a sustained commitment to success for over 40 years. During this period, our political leadership agreed that containing and stopping the expansion of the Soviet Union was central to our national survival. It wasn’t about Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Rather, it was about a shared commitment to the fundamental value of our nation – freedom.
After 40 years, liberty had won the day, thanks to the shared commitment of the United States and our allies and friends.
When the Wall came down and the Cold War ended in 1989, most people again expected a peace dividend. But, freedom has never had an easy path.
What I’d like to do now is share a few of my own perspectives about today’s global security challenges … the hard path we’re still on to preserve freedom … and it’s now our choice.
This is a critical time for America. Today, the nation faces a broader array of security challenges – and greater uncertainty about the future – than ever before. But there is a hopeful outlook if we recognize and respond to the challenge.
Terrorists have declared war, openly and explicitly, against the United States, our friends and allies, and all who love freedom and liberty.
Iraq and Afghanistan are the front lines in the war on terror … but they aren’t the sum total of the war. Instead, Iraq and Afghanistan are a lot like Korea … closer to the beginning than near the end, of this war.
The war on terror is not likely to end any time soon. Radical Islamists are on a different clock altogether, a clock that records time a millennium or so into the past and generations into the future. Their clock is completely out of sync with the clock in Washington – which is driven by electoral and budgetary cycles. This war will not be lost on the battlefield … but it could be lost in Washington.
There are no clear, easy answers in Iraq. All war is tough and dirty and dynamic … and there’s always a kind of “fog” at the strategic level, as well as at the tactical level. Iraq is part of the broader war on terror, and we’ve never fought a war quite like this one before.
The “ways and means” – our tool kit – include all the instruments of national power. As General Pace said – security in Iraq is part of a “three-legged stool”: security, governance, and the economy. You need all three to make it work – and that’s what our National Strategy reflects. Security and economic development are two sides of the same coin. You need security for economic development, but you need long-term economic development for security.
We shouldn’t think about Iraq in isolation. Iraq is part of several broader dynamics:
* Next door, Iran is reasserting itself – Tehran wants to be a player on the world stage, and wants a strong say about the Shi’a holy cities in Iraq, next door.
* Other neighbors in the region – Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan – have unique and important opportunities to help Iraq by supporting Iraqi reconciliation efforts.
* Across the region and beyond, extremists, using distorted ideologies, are attempting to commandeer the peaceful religion of Islam.
* And conflict in Iraq between Shi’a and Sunni could exacerbate that fundamental, historical tension throughout the Islamic world.
But, meaningful progress is being made – especially “on the ground” … reconciliation, economic development, less violence … even without the national progress we would like to see in the Iraqi government.
Here’s what Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, Commander of the Multinational Command, in Iraq said on Tuesday before the National Press Club:
“From a security standpoint, the surge has created time and space necessary for the government of Iraq to move forward. The military aspects of our strategy have achieved momentum, but we have not yet achieved what I would characterize as irreversible momentum.
The time is now for the government of Iraq to aggressively follow up with essential services, economic development and political accommodation.
Our goal is to move from the forefront to the periphery of planning and conducting the majority of operations in specific areas as local security conditions permit. This is a mission shift from leading to partnering to overwatch. It entails tiered levels of overwatch – from tactical to operational to strategic levels – as the Iraqi security force assumes increasing responsibility for security.
It can be very tempting to overestimate progress and withdraw too many troops before an area is ready.
The irreversible momentum we need will come from gradual empowerment of the Iraqis, careful transition of security responsibilities, and a deliberate change to an overwatch role for coalition forces. Iraq is one of the most complex, dynamic and diverse combat environments any military has ever faced. As General Petraeus said in his testimony, a conflict between ethnic and sectarian communities is unavoidable and necessary for the long-term stability of Iraq.
The question that will define how quickly Iraq stabilizes is whether the conflict is resolved violently or peacefully. The Iraqi people seem to be making that choice today. They are tired of the violence that has engulfed the country for the better part of the last four years, and they are standing up to prevent extremists from further destabilizing their proud country.”
Here are a few facts:
* There are 24 partner nations with personnel in Iraq.
* Total attacks country wide have decreased 11 out of the past 13 weeks for the lowest level since April 2006. Increased violence during Ramadan is not occurring as it has in the last 2-3 years.
* Total weekly attacks have decreased for the 8th straight week which is the longest sustained downward trend since January 2004.
Peak electricity generation met or exceeded 5,000 megawatts on all but four days between August 15 and September 14, 2007. A peak electricity generation record since 2003 of 5595 MW was achieved on September 11, 2007.
* The Sunni tribal awakening in al Anbar and north central provinces has resulted in the recruitment of over 52,000 Concerned Local Citizens to coordinate with Coalition Forces and the Government of Iraq to enhance neighborhood security. Southern tribal leaders have shown high levels of interest in similar programs.
* Seven of 18 Iraqi Provinces have achieved Provincial Iraqi Control, controlling their own security forces through local government coordination with the central government.
* Citizen response to the National and Regional Tips hotline providing citizen reporting of insurgent and criminal activity has increased over 100% since August 2006.
Regarding Afghanistan, there is reason to be both optimistic and cautious about the current situation.
Here are some reasons to be optimistic:
Significant progress has been made to date – free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, some access to health care, and better education. Military operations this year put the Taliban’s leadership off balance and disrupted plans for their spring offensive. The Afghan National Army is performing better than anticipated at this point, and the Afghan National Police are showing progress. There are seven other coalition countries (UK, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Romania) working with US trainers in a joint effort to train new Afghan soldiers.
The US government has appropriated $10B in FY07, almost doubling assistance to Afghanistan to date, and projects funded by these moneys will have a real impact on the people of Afghanistan’s lives like power, roads, agriculture development, education, job skills and the like.
There is a general sense of optimism and determination among the Afghan leaders and people. They regularly voice their appreciation for our assistance and believe things have improved since last year. We must continue to help them succeed, and there are 40 partner nations in Afghanistan working with us in country.
That said, caution is wise. Violence continues to increase. Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) are appearing in Afghanistan similar to those found in Iraq. The Government of Afghanistan and the international community are not meeting popular expectations regarding governance, security, and development. Narcotics production has increased again this year, despite increases in eradication programs. Ultimately, viable economic alternatives to growing poppies must be created. Afghans grow out of necessity, not desire.
Iran is not helpful to coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran supplies Shi’a militia groups in Iraq with training, funding, and weapons, including particularly lethal Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).
It also continues to provide money and weapons to Hezbollah, which threatens the legitimate government of Lebanon. Iran’s most destabilizing activity has been the pursuit of nuclear weapons technology in defiance of the international community, International Atomic Energy Agency, and United Nations Security Council.
The United States is not interested in a confrontation in the Gulf; we are interested in ensuring that the commerce of the region benefits the world, which is why our military forces (forces of stabilization) operate in this region.
This is a time of decision for America. As the philosopher and political economist, John Stuart Mill, said:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse.”
This is a not a time to retreat but a time for bold American leadership in the world. President George W. Bush said: “We can succeed if we don’t lose our nerve… because freedom has had the capacity over time to change enemies to allies, and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.” The challenge to the nation is to summon the requisite will, commitment, and resolve to show the terrorists – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world – that they will not succeed … not now, and not 20 years or 50 years from now.
At the same time, major states like China and Russia, whose future paths are not yet clear, continue to pursue sophisticated military modernization programs. They are not “problems” right now, but we have to prepare for an uncertain future.
Meanwhile, in a highly globalized world, the risks of proliferation will only grow, as access to technology – and the ability to move technology – increase.
North Korea has been a constant security issue. Progress is being made in North Korea, but there is still a long way to go. The six-party talks held in Beijing between the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States have resulted in North Korea shutting down its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. Yesterday, the six parties announced their latest agreement regarding de-nuclearization of the peninsula. In return for its de-nuclearization actions, North Korea is receiving fuel oil as part of an economics incentive package.
The remaining and large problem is that North Korea still has weapon-grade nuclear material, and they continue to develop a full range of delivery systems. This is obviously threatening to our friends and allies in the area and to the United States itself. This situation dominates the security concerns as this is a core security issue for everyone.
This said, progress is being made, but neither the United States nor other countries will be comfortable until North Korea has renounced the use of nuclear weapons and after all weapons-fissionable material has been removed from the country.
As we look to future conflicts, major clashes of great armies on the open battlefield are unlikely. Instead, it’s far more likely to look like Hezbollah’s attack on Israel last year … when assailants launched rockets from the middle of town, and hid among civilian populations. It’s harder to locate that kind of adversary, and while it’s still reasonably easy to kill him, it’s very hard to do so without killing anyone else.
As it was throughout the 20th century, technology is still an integral part of the threat and the solution to emerging challenges … but, in the 21st century, technology will be brought to bear in some new ways … Cyber warfare is already here, and it’s the challenge that keeps me up at night.
The cyber attacks earlier this year against Estonia temporarily turned one of that small nation’s great strengths – its technological savvy – into a vulnerability. That attack was like the first use of gunpowder – a wake-up call, and a signal of new forms of warfare to come. Cyber attacks tactics and techniques are continuing evolving – and improving – so there’s no static solution.
Lastly, one request to all of you before I conclude … The greatest short-term threat to the United States may be a terrorist attack. But the greatest long-term threat is falling behind in science and technology.
Compare the U.S. population, just under 303 million, with China – over 1.3 billion, or India – over 1.2 billion. Then consider that maybe about 1% of any population are actual “geniuses”. And, consider that science and technology education is rapidly on the rise in these and other major emerging states. Think of their potential for growth and innovation!
Think about what happens when the Chinese government decides to leverage “crowd sourcing”. Strictly by the numbers, the U.S. is at a disadvantage in science and technology. Therefore, we must be preeminent in our education and in our applications.
The U.S. economy – and the U.S. military – are based on advanced technology. In the military and in the private sector, you need brilliant innovators in the labs, and you also need workers – recruits – who are technologically savvy enough to make use of the latest developments.
And it’s not just about application – it’s also about fundamental science … math and physics … the foundation for all creative application.
I urge each of you to take every opportunity to reach out to young people, and to encourage them to consider science and technology as they make decisions about their future education and careers and to support education in these fields.
On 9-11, a reported asked a little 9-year-old girl, “What is patriotism?” And she said – and remember, she’s only 9 years old – “Patriotism is taking care of America”.
I thank each of you for your patriotism and for everything you do, every day, to make a safer and more secure world for our children and grandchildren. God bless all of you.