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NEWS | Oct. 21, 2006

Cheney thanks Indiana Airmen, Soldiers

By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (AFPN) - National Guard members perform vital stateside and overseas duties as America stays on the offense to defeat global terrorism, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said during a visit to Camp Atterbury, Ind., Oct. 20. 

"To serve in the National Guard is to accept a dual mission," Mr. Cheney told gathered Guardsmen. "You can be called on to defend the country against enemies abroad, or to protect lives and properties here at home in times of local emergency."

Mr. Cheney praised Indiana and other National Guard troops for accomplishing "difficult and dangerous" missions during the war. Cheney has also traveled this month to visit with troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas.

"Hoosiers are without question doing their part to make our nation safer, and to bring freedom, stability and peace to a troubled part of the world," the vice president said. "And, when the job is done, you can be proud of your service for the rest of your lives."

The war began after terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Cheney said, noting Afghanistan and Iraq became key battlegrounds.

The United States' formula for victory over global terrorism is "to go on the offensive, and stay on the offensive, until the killers are brought to justice and the danger is removed," Mr. Cheney said.

Al Qaeda views the entire world as a battlefield, Mr. Cheney said, and it aims to topple the new, democratic Iraqi government and then turn Iraq into a launching pad for more attacks against the U.S. and its allies. That's why defeating al Qaeda and other insurgents operating in Iraq is so vital, Cheney said. And the new Iraqi government must be preserved, he added, to continue as America's ally in the war on terror.

Last year, 10 to 12 million Iraqis from all persuasions voted to establish a democratic government for all Iraqis, Mr. Cheney noted. 

"By voting in free elections, by ratifying a constitution, by going to the polls with a voter turnout rate higher than the rate in our own country, the Iraqi people have shown that they value their liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny," the vice president said.

The terrorists fear Iraqi democracy, he said, because they know "as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal."

And despite recent stepped-up insurgent violence in Iraq, the vice president pledged that America would keep its word and continue its support of the new Iraqi government.

"We'll continue the work of reconstruction, continue to strike at the enemy, continue to train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own country," Mr. Cheney vowed.

Concerning President Bush's meeting today with senior Pentagon civilian and military leaders to discuss the way forward in Iraq, Mr. Cheney said, "we will change tactics as necessary to achieve the mission, as we have from the beginning."

America's citizens "can be certain any decisions about troop levels (in Iraq) will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the judgments of our military commanders," Mr. Cheney said, and "not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C."

The strategic goal in Iraq is to establish "a nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, defend itself and be an ally in the war on terror," the vice president said, noting much progress has been made.

"And, we can be confident going forward," Mr. Cheney said.



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