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President Signs Defense Appropriations Bill at the Pentagon
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Thursday, January 10, 2002

SEC. RUMSFELD: Mr. President, welcome back to the Pentagon. We're pleased you're here -- be seated. We're pleased you're here, and we're delighted to see some members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Chairman Young, I've had a chance to say hello to, and others that are here. I see Congressman Frelinghuysen and Senator Dorgan. I think Congressman Nethercutt's here, and possibly Congressman … Moran. Welcome. Good to see you. And welcome to General [Richard] Myers and the senior military and civilian leadership.

Nearly four months ago now, our country was attacked. The terrorists aimed at the symbols of our freedom, our strength, our prosperity, killing thousands of innocent people. The enemy expected panic, confusion, despair, followed by, I suppose, hollow threats and feeble responses. Their leaders, indeed, have said as much, that that was their expectation.

They hoped and expected that we would retreat from the dangerous world that they have helped to create. Behind a barricade of icy mountains and -- they felt secure [in] their land-locked fortress, some 600 miles from the sea, seemingly far from the reach of American forces. They were wrong.

They underestimated the president of the United States, they underestimated the American people, they underestimated the men and women of the armed forces, and they underestimated the men and women of our coalition forces.

Within hours of September 11th, the president had rallied the nation. Within days he had lifted spirits and brought Americans together with that remarkable address to the joint session of the Congress on September 20th. And within weeks, he had rallied the world, building an international coalition of old allies and, indeed, many new partners. By October 7th, less than a month, U.S. armed forces were embarked on a disciplined, a systematic, and an unflinching military campaign to root out terrorists in Afghanistan and to put them out of business.

Equally important, our country, and dozens of nations across the globe, were engaged in a broad-based campaign combining all elements of national power to put pressure on terrorists and nations that harbor terrorists.

By year's end, the Taliban were out of power in Afghanistan, their leaders and al Qaeda allies were on the run. And the campaign continues.

President Bush resisted the clamor for a quick, symbolic response, opting instead to forge coalitions, to allow time to develop military base support, to gather intelligence, to transport a massive military force thousands of miles across the ocean, and launch a global campaign against terror.

He gave the order to strike the enemy hard, driving them from their strongholds. And he's pledged to fight this war for as long as it takes, well past Afghanistan, knowing that we are still in the early stages of a very dangerous and difficult conflict.

We were reminded of the dangers again yesterday with the loss of seven Americans -- brave Americans -- in the crash of a KC-130 in Pakistan. And certainly, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and the loved ones of the crew members. Every American casualty further dedicates our cause -- to seek justice and to preserve freedom.

We're working with Congress not only to win today's war on terror, but to prepare our county for the next war by making sure that our armed forces are prepared to meet the threats and the challenges of this new, 21st century. The legislation the president signs today will provide funds to help sustain that effort, and we thank the congressional leaders that are with us today and those who worked to secure its passage.

It's a privilege to welcome back to the Pentagon the world leader in the war on terrorism, our commander in chief, George W. Bush.

Mr. President. [Applause.]

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you.

At ease. (Laughter.)

I always love being introduced by a matinee television idol. [Laughter, applause.] Who would've thought it? [Laughter.]

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not my wife!

PRESIDENT BUSH: Only his mother. [Laughter.]

Thanks so much, Mr. Secretary. You're doing a fabulous job.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: He really is.

And so are the men and women who work in this building and the men and women who wear the uniform. We're really proud of you.

I'm honored to sign this bill because the nation owes the men and women of the military our full measure of respect and our full measure of support.

We owe you decent pay and a decent quality of life. We owe you the best leadership and training. We owe you the best equipment and weaponry. We owe you, our servicemen and -women, our best, because we owe you our freedom.

This bill, which includes both this year's defense appropriations and emergency supplemental spending, keeps the commitment to our military and keeps the commitments of our country. It was passed with bipartisan support in the Congress. It will be implemented by this fine secretary and a fine deputy secretary, in Paul Wolfowitz.

As the commander in chief, I'm really proud to sign this bill here in the Pentagon. It shows that at an hour when freedom is under attack, America is steady and standing tall in freedom's defense.

I too want to thank the members of the United States Congress who are here, particularly Chairman Bill Young. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for coming. [Applause.] Senator Dorgan, I appreciate you being here, sir. Rodney, thank you for coming, and Jim and George. I guess you're supposed to be formal with the Senate and informal with the House. [Chuckles] But thank you all for taking time to be here. It's -- it's -- it's a kind gesture for you to come.

I also want to thank the members of the Joint Chiefs and the leadership of our military who are on the stage with me here. Dick Myers is doing a fabulous job. He is steady. He is strong. He sent such an important signal throughout our military that we mean business. We're a no-nonsense group of people who have got one thing in mind, and that is victory. [Applause.]

I remember talking about our plans with the secretary and others in my administration, and as we set our plans, there was no question that our -- our military was ready. The secretary made that clear. Dick Myers made that clear. Hugh Shelton made that clear. And since September the 11th, the skill, the daring, and the courage of our men and women in uniform is now clear to all. It's clear to your fellow Americans, and it's clear to those who try to hide in caves.

We have liberated a nation from oppression, and we've saved many people from starvation. I like to remind my fellow Americans, there's nothing more joyous to my heart than to see our military liberate women who have lived under the most oppressive regime in the history of mankind.

This cause is noble and this cause is just. And we will stay on this cause until we have achieved our objective. You're delivering justice -- not revenge, but justice -- to agents of terror. And you're making this nation proud.

America recently has been reminded that in our quest to defend freedom, and really in our quest to save civilization, there are enormous sacrifices. And there's no more -- greater sacrifice than loss of life. And like the secretary, I extend my prayers and sympathies to the moms and dads and wives and sons and daughters of those who've lost their life. But as I told the young lady the other day when I called her, whose husband had died, I said, "Please tell your children that he died for a just cause." Sacrifices are made willingly by volunteers. And having traveled our nation a little bit, I can assure you you're in the midst of a grateful people.

In our global campaign against global terror, our military must have every resource, every tool, every weapon and every advantage you need for the missions to come. The bill I'm about to sign makes a down payment on an essential commitment. We will give our forces everything they need to defeat global terror.

Overall, this year's defense bill provides nearly 30 billion [dollars] more than the amount enacted for the fiscal year 2001. The emergency supplemental measure provides another 3.5 billion on top of that. Yet even more important than these numbers are the priorities they represent. First of all, the bill contains funding for pay increases of up to 15 percent for service members, with an average increase of 6.9 percent. The bill reduces out-of-pocket housing costs from 15 percent to 11 percent and puts us on a track towards eliminating this burden altogether by the year 2005. In addition, the bill also fully funds the health care of active-duty members and their families, and provides 3.9 billion [dollars] for health care benefits for military retirees over 65 and their families.

We can never pay our men and women in uniform on a scale that matches the magnitude of their sacrifice. But this bill reflects our respect for your selfless service.

Today more than ever we also owe those in uniform the resources they need to maintain a very high state of readiness. Our enemies rely upon surprise and deception. They used to rely upon the fact that they thought we were soft. I don't think they think that way anymore. [Extended applause.] Our forces must be ready to deploy to any point on the globe on short notice. This bill increases operation and maintenance by over $8 billion.

This nation must have and will have ready forces that can bring victory to our country and safety to our people. The world's best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines also deserve the world's best weaponry. To ensure that, our nation must invest in procurement accounts. This defense bill contains about $61 billion for procurement.

This nation must give our military the weapons it needs to meet the threats of our future. If the war against terror means that we must find terror wherever it exists and pull it out by its roots and bring people to justice, our military must have the means to achieve the objective. This bill's just a beginning to make sure that that happens.

Our nation must also look even farther into the future so that the next generations of weaponry take advantage of our nation's decisive technological edge. That's why I'm pleased to see that this year's defense bill contains almost $50 billion for research and development, including nearly $8 billion for missile defense.

My administration is committed to transforming our forces with innovative doctrine and strategy and weaponry.

This will allow us to revolutionize the battlefield of the future and to keep the peace by defining war on our terms. It's a great goal and it's a great opportunity -- one granted to few nations in history. And with the leadership of the secretary, we will seize this opportunity.

And finally, I'm pleased that he emergency supplemental funding in this bill is going to allow us to meet some of our urgent priorities. In addition to the 3.5 billion [dollars] to help prosecute the war on terror, the bill contains 8.2 billion to help New York, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania recover from the attacks by the evil ones. It also devotes an additional 8.4 billion to homeland security.

We're working hard to make sure that our homeland is secure. But the best way to secure America's future is to bring the terrorists to justice and to say to those who think they can hide them, "You, too, are just as guilty as the murderers, if you think you can hide them and provide them aid and provide them comfort." We will build the security of America by fighting our enemies abroad and protecting our folks here at home. And we are committed -- this administration and the Congress is committed to these most important goals.

These are good bills that will help America in time of need, and I appreciate the spirit on Capitol Hill that led to its passage. I look forward to working with the Congress as we build our nation's strength and security. I look forward to working for next year's budget, with the priorities of winning this war and defending our homeland. I'm confident that the spirit that prevailed in late fall will spill over into this year as we continue to remember the great goals that face this nation.

It is now my honor, in the heart, the headquarters of the greatest military in the world to sign the Department of Defense and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Thank you all for your hospitality. Stay on course. Find the enemy. [Applause.] God bless.

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