Deputy Secretary Praises Troops Who Serve in Face of Extremism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2007 – Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England today told servicemembers deployed to Bahrain that they’re following in their fathers’ and grandfathers’ footsteps by protecting liberty and freedom for future generations.
England, speaking at the 5th U.S. Fleet headquarters in Manama, told the deployed troops they’re confronting terrorism and extremism the same way past generations faced off against fascism and communism.
The secretary contrasted the beautiful morning of Sept. 10, 2001, when as secretary of the Navy he was escorting President Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the Washington Navy Yard, with the terrorist attacks the following day.
Those attacks changed the country and its people forever, he said. “You cannot put Pandora back in the box,” he said. “As much as people want to go back, you can’t do it.”
The war on terror “is not a war of our choosing,” England said. “People tend to forget that America was attacked on 9/11 and we lost about 3,000 people that day.”
Just as when the United States was threatened earlier in its history, England said, Americans have once again stepped forward to defend it.
He praised the men and women in uniform, especially about 4,000 of them deployed around the world who answered the country’s call when it needed them. “We are blessed as a nation because, for 230 years, every generation of Americans has stepped forward to protect and defend the country,” he said.
Fighting terrorism will be a long-time struggle, England acknowledged, but one that will impact the United States for many years into the future. America’s troops and their civilian counterparts within the Defense Department are working together “to protect freedom and liberty for the next generation,” he said. “This is about the next generation; this is about your kids and your grandkids. Because, as the president said, this is a long struggle.”
But America and its coalition partners are making headway against extremism, he said.
England pointed to Bahrain as an example of moderation that is helping set an example for other governments in the region. That example is critical, he said, particularly in light of threats presented by Syria and Iran. “This is a huge, important place for us,” he said.
Basing the U.S. 5th Fleet in a permanent facility in Bahrain is good for Bahrain, England said, “but also terrific for the United States of America.”
He thanked the troops serving there for the role they are playing in America’s defense. “Thank all of you who serve America, who every day leave your families and spend your time here, doing your part to protect and defend America,” he said. “Thank you. I thank your families, and God bless you for your great service to America.”