Gates Speaks of Troops’ Courage, Dedication, Patriotism

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates delivered a tribute to servicemembers’ courage, dedication, adaptability and patriotism to the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Continental Congress.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates speaks during the Daughters of the American Revolution National Defense Night at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Friday, July 11, 2008. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt Jerry Morrison  
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“Whenever I meet with troops, I am impressed by their resilience, their good humor, their courage, and their determination in the face of personal sacrifice,” Gates said to the more than 3,000 members of the group in Constitution Hall, here. Gates was the featured speaker at the organization’s national security night.

It is important to remember that, when Americans talk about national security, it is the men and women in uniform who make the discussion possible, Gates said. Servicemembers carry out the policies of the United States, and they “shoulder the burdens of this complex and dangerous world,” he said.

The war on terror is the longest war the United States has fought with an all-volunteer force since the American Revolution. “Frankly, our military, our government and our country were not prepared for such a long and grueling conflict,” he said. “Despite this, our troops have persevered and overcome incredible obstacles.

“Often, they live in Spartan quarters, work in combat theaters and face the uncertainties of non-traditional war in an era when any mistake -- even the perception of a mistake -- can be transmitted around the globe in seconds.

American troops serve not only as warriors, but as diplomats and development officers as well, the secretary said. “In the face of these challenges, they have maintained a steely resolve,” Gates said.

And they are staying with the missions. All services are meeting or exceeding their recruiting and retention targets. “High retention rates continue to be nothing short of remarkable, especially when considering that those most likely to re-enlist are those most often deployed,” Gates said.

The courage of those serving cannot be doubted, Gates told the group. The country has awarded five Medals of Honor; 38 Distinguished Service Crosses, Navy Crosses or Air Forces Crosses; nearly 700 Silver Stars, and almost 5,000 Bronze Stars with valor devices, the secretary said. “Each represents a story of bravery and sacrifices so great they are almost impossible to comprehend -- from men and women who have fallen on grenades to save comrades to others who have sprinted through firefights to save a buddy,” he said.

The troops and their commanders exhibit adaptability that is key to winning a counterinsurgency fight. In 2006, coalition forces forecast a bleak future for Anbar province in Iraq. Al-Qaida in Iraq just about ruled the province’s capital of Ramadi. “When all hope seemed lost in Anbar, the unit in charge of Ramadi dramatically changed its tactics -- moving out of heavily fortified bases and into combat outposts in the middle of the fight,” Gates said. “Through heavy fighting, through great sacrifices, they won Ramadi back from al-Qaida. Many of the tactics successfully employed there would be replicated across Iraq.”

Gates also spoke of the sacrifices military families make, calling them the “unsung heroes” of the war on terror. Families, too, are affected by multiple deployments around the world. “Words cannot describe how grateful our troops are for their wives and husbands, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers -- the network of love and support that carries on in their absence,” he said.

Those wounded in the nation’s service deserve the best the country can give, Gates said. He said the American people may disagree about the war, but they still support the troops. “You … see it in efforts by the Congress to make sure our wounded have all they need to make the transition to the next phase of their life,” he said.

Americans also see this appreciation through bipartisan legislation President Bush signed last week that greatly increases the benefits of the G.I. Bill for troops and their families.

Gates said it is “deeds, not words” that count. American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are performing those deeds to ensure the nation’s safety and protecting U.S. allies around the world. “In both principles and deeds, our men and women in uniform embody the best our country has to offer,” he said. “We are truly blessed to have among us citizens of such tremendous and awe-inspiring courage.”

Robert M. Gates
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Photo Essay: Gates Attends Daughters of the American Revolution Event

Gates Departs on Nine-Day World Trip

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates left today on a nine-day trip around the world aimed at reinforcing relationships with some countries he has yet to visit as defense secretary.

Gates will visit U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, participate in annual bilateral talks with Australia, and discuss security matters with his counterparts in Indonesia, India and Turkey.

The Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations are the principal forum for bilateral talks between the two allies. It brings the U.S. secretaries of state and defense together with their Australian counterparts, along with other senior officials from both countries.

The trip also coincides with the day the Navy plans to try to shoot down a dead U.S. intelligence satellite. The window for the shoot-down opened this morning after the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Defense officials said yesterday that they are evaluating the situation and will advise the secretary when they have a shot to take. President Bush has empowered Gates to order the shoot-down, and based upon the advice he gets, he is prepared to do so during this trip, officials said yesterday.

Robert M. Gates
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U.S. Pacific Command


DoD-Sanctioned Committee Highlights World War II Events

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 2008 – A special Defense Department-sanctioned organization is highlighting key events of U.S. participation in World War II, the head of the committee.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster, executive director of the World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, said during an American Forces Radio and Television Service interview that his organization would highlight "all of the events of World War II."

The June 6, 1944, allied invasion of Europe known as D-Day "is certainly one of the major events" of World War II, Soyster pointed out. President Bush, he added, is slated to participate in a D-Day commemoration ceremony in Normandy, France.

Other important military events the committee will commemorate, Soyster said, include the Battle of the Bulge in Europe and the retaking of Japanese-held islands in the Pacific Theater.

He said committee commemorations are slated to cover significant World War II campaigns until the surrender of German and Japanese forces in 1945.

The D-Day commemorations in France include a June 5 observance of the U.S. Army 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions' parachute jumps into Normandy, he said, "that opened the invasion." The ceremony will feature a parachute jump, followed by a march up to St. Mare Eglise. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, he said, will be the keynote speaker.

Three other D-Day observations will be held in France on June 6, Soyster noted:

  • President Bush will participate in a 9:30 a.m. D-Day commemoration ceremony for fallen U.S. service members at the U.S. National Cemetery near Omaha Beach. That burial ground contains the remains of some 9,000 U.S. service members who died during D-Day operations.

  •  1 p.m. ceremony will be held at Point du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers climbed the heights to seize enemy gun emplacements during the D-Day assault. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, a Ranger, will provide remarks.

  • Closing out the day, a 5 p.m. commemoration ceremony will be held at Utah Beach.

"The people of Normandy truly remember 1944," Soyster said.

In Washington, D.C., the official dedication of the World War II Memorial will be held May 29 on the Mall, Soyster said. President Bush, he added, will participate in the ceremony.

The World War II Memorial dedication, Soyster said, doesn't fall under his committee's purview, but nonetheless "is a major event" for veterans, especially those who can't make the trip to France.

The traditional Memorial Day observance, Soyster said, will be held May 31 at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It's a grand weekend (in Washington), lots of people attending, … just continuous events for our World War II veterans," he concluded.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker


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