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04 February 2002

Transcript: Bush Remarks at Eglin Air Force Base, February 4

(He lauds Air Force for its role in defending America) (2220)
On the same day that he released a budget request stipulating a
$48,000 million increase in the 2003 defense budget, President Bush
flew to Florida to laud the men and women of the U.S. Air Force for
their role in the war against terrorism.
Bush said the Air Force's 919th Special Operations Wing, based at
Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, "is part of a tremendous
fighting force that assembled across the world in a matter of weeks.
You destroyed Afghan terrorist training camps and freed a country from
brutal oppression."
Turning to his theme of the defense budget of nearly $380,000 million
for fiscal year 2003, which begins October 1, Bush called the
requested increase the largest in a generation. He noted that the
proposal includes "another military pay raise for those who wear the
uniform." He called on Congress to make the defense budget request its
top priority, and to fund it fully.
Following is a transcript of Bush's remarks:
(begin transcript)
Office of the Press Secretary
(Fort Walton Beach, Florida)
February 4, 2002
Eglin Air Force Base
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you very much. I appreciate your
warm welcome. It is an honor to be here with the men and women who
wear our uniform. (Applause.) It's an honor to be at Eglin.
(Applause.) And it's appropriate that I was delivered to your door on
an Air Force jet. (Applause.)
I not only want to thank all of you who wear our uniform, I want to
thank your families, as well. (Applause.) I understand that military
life makes a lot of demands on those who serve, and I also understand
the family's sacrifice. And, for that, your nation is grateful.
(Applause.) Every family member here today can be certain that our
nation's cause is right, and our nation's cause is just. You can be
sure of something else -- in this war against terror, the forces of
freedom will prevail. (Applause.)
I always enjoy coming to states which have a great governor.
(Applause.) Enough said. (Laughter.) It's clear that both of us were
listening to our mother. (Laughter.) My advice to all you youngsters
out there is, listen to your mother. (Laughter and applause.) Right,
I'm also honored to be here with Ched Bob. As you know, I like
nicknames. I never heard a general called Ched Bob before. (Laughter.)
But, General, thank you for your leadership.
I also want to thank General Lyles and General Stogsdill, as well, for
their leadership for our country. I'm proud of the men and women who
wear the uniform, and I'm proud we've got some of the finest -- finest
-- Americans who are leading our brave troops, including General
I also want to thank Congressman Miller. Congressman Miller flew down
with me today on Air Force One. He's a young Congressman, he just got
up there. But I can assure you one thing -- when it comes to
supporting the men and women in the military, you've got a strong
supporter in Jeff Miller. (Applause.)
Not only am I pleased to be with so many from Eglin, I'm also pleased
to be from -- men and women and families from the headquarters of the
Special -- the Air Force Special Operations Command in Hurlburt.
(Applause.) The quiet professionals. (Applause.) You don't sound so
quiet today, however. You perform with daring and dedication. You've
made an impression on the enemy. You've given the terrorists around
the world their first glimpse at their fate. (Applause.)
The 16th Special Operations Wing has a motto: Any time, anyplace.
(Applause.) You spend every day training, testing and preparing for
any mission that may come. It makes me feel good to be the
Commander-in-Chief of people who train hard for any mission that may
come. You perform your missions with success and with honor, and
you've made America proud. (Applause.)
I understand that one young man has returned from the war zone in time
for the birth of twins. My congratulations to Staff Sergeant
Christopher Avery and Erica. (Applause.) Staff Sergeant, you can take
it from the Commander-in-Chief and a father of twins, you're going to
be a busy man. (Laughter and applause.)
Our military has a new mission for the 21st century. It came suddenly,
but you were ready. The 919th Special Operations Wing -- (applause) --
is part of a tremendous fighting force that assembled across the world
in a matter of weeks. You destroyed Afghan terrorist training camps
and freed a country from brutal oppression. Our military not only
proved themselves on a battlefield, but our military were liberators,
freeing women and children, giving them the chance to breathe the
fresh air of freedom. For that, I'm so grateful and proud. (Applause.)
When America was attacked, our men and women in uniform felt it in a
personal way. A reporter asked an Air Force pilot if he had any direct
connection to the victims of September 11th. The pilot replied, "I
think we all do; they were Americans." That's how we all felt. When
you strike one American, you strike all Americans, and you can expect
to hear from us. (Applause.)
The terrorists are beginning to realize they picked the wrong enemy.
(Applause.) As I like to put it, they must have been watching too much
daytime TV. (Laughter.) They thought we were soft. They thought we
would roll over. My, oh, my, they haven't got us figured out. But
they're beginning to understand us. You see, we're a patient and
deliberate people. We're absolutely resolved to find terrorists where
they hide and to root them out one by one. (Applause.)
Some people may grow weary, but not me. And not you. History has
called us into action, and we will not stop until the threat of global
terrorism has been destroyed. (Applause.)
This message has been made clear to the enemy. It has been made clear
to the world. It has been made clear to those who think they can harm
America. And that message is being delivered by the finest military
ever assembled: the United States military. (Applause.)
In a short period of time, we're making great progress. It hasn't been
all that long ago that I called the military into action. I know it
seems a long time for many of the family members. But when history
looks back, we haven't been at this for very long, but we're making
huge progress. We've built a fabulous coalition of many nations and
every region of the world. They know that in this conflict there is a
choice to make: Either you're with us, or your with the terrorists.
Either you're with freedom and justice, or you're on the side of
tyranny and oppression. And the good news is, civilized people
everywhere are taking the side of freedom and justice. (Applause.)
Our first objective in the first theater against the war against
terror has been achieved -- the Taliban are out of business.
(Applause.) They're gone and the people of Afghanistan don't miss them
one bit. A few months ago, some warned that military action would
cause an uprising in the streets. Well, when we defeated that brutal
regime, people did take to the streets -- but they came out to
celebrate; they came out to express their joy; they came out to cheer
the fact that their oppressors had left and freedom had returned.
And we're working on our next objective. And that's to run down al
Qaeda and the rest of the terrorists, and maybe give them a free trip
to Guantanamo Bay. (Applause.) This will take time. It's going to take
a while. The American people understand that and, for that, I'm
grateful. And you need to know, I'm a patient man. I don't have a set
calendar. All I know is we've got them on the run. And we're after
people who, on the one hand, sent kids to suicide missions, and on the
other hand, try to bury deep inside some cave. But there's no cave
deep enough. There's no place they can hide long enough for the long
arm of American justice to find 'em and get 'em. (Applause.)
Afghanistan is only the first step, the beginning of a long campaign
to rid the world of terrorists. We're just starting. In the caves they
ran from, we found evidence of more plans to attack us. And while
we're on alert at home and doing everything we can to protect innocent
life in America, the surest way to defend America, the surest way to
make sure our children grow up in a peaceful and free society, is to
be relentless in our pursuit of those who would harm America, those
who hate freedom, and bring them to justice. (Applause.)
We believe that they've trained thousands of killers, and they view
the entire world as a battlefield. And that's why we're not going to
quit. And that's why we're going to rally the nations of freedom. And
that's why we're going to protect the American people.
Another objective is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from
threatening America or our friends and allies with chemical,
biological or nuclear weapons. We must be deliberate as a nation. But
time isn't on our side. Terrorist states and terrorist allies are an
axis of evil, seeking weapons of mass destruction. But I've put them
on notice. The United States of America will not permit the world's
most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most
destructive weapons. (Applause.)
It is now up to them to change their behavior. It is now up to them to
join peaceful nations. But they're on notice. They're on notice. And
this cause, this historic moment, this great opportunity to fight for
freedom and to promote the peace for the long-term requires a strong
military. And we must keep it strong with new investments in
equipment, and we must keep it strong by attracting and retaining the
best and the brightest in our country. (Applause.)
We're learning a lot about modern warfare in the first theater,
Afghanistan. We're learning about weapons and how to use them better.
It's proved that in this first phase that expensive precision weapons
not only defeat the enemy, but spare innocent lives. And the budget I
submit makes it clear we need more of them. (Applause.)
We need to be agile and quick to move. We need to be able to send our
troops onto battlefields in places that many of us never thought there
would be a battlefield. We need to be agile and mobile. And,
therefore, we need to replace aging aircraft, and get ready to be able
to defend freedom with the best equipment possible. Our men and women
deserve the best weapons, the best equipment, and the best training.
And therefore, I've asked Congress for a one-year increase of more
than $48 billion for national defense, the largest increase in a
generation. (Applause.)
We need one other thing. As I said, we need to recruit and retain the
best. This budget I submitted has another military pay raise for those
who wear the uniform. (Applause.)
We're unified in Washington on winning this war. One way to express
our unity is for Congress to set the military budget, the defense of
the United States, as the number one priority and fully fund my
request. (Applause.) The budget I submit recognizes the vital role the
military will play and recognizes we have only one alternative, and
that is victory. (Applause.)
One of the great honors I have is the opportunity to work with people
in our military, from the troops to the former pilot who serves as the
Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld -- (applause) -- my
administration's matinee idol for the seniors. (Laughter.) I've also
appointed an Air Force general as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
And he brings to the job great discipline and duty and service above
self. I'm proud of General Myers. (Applause.)
The Air Force has a great ethic, a family ethic. You stick together,
you take care of your own, and you bring out the best in each other.
(Applause.) And you know the stakes of this cause. Our enemies want
every person on Earth to live in tyranny or live in fear. We seek a
world that lives in peace and freedom. And, you know what? There's no
doubt in my mind we're going to prevail. (Applause.)
In the months and years to come, our nation will be asking much of the
Air Force, and every branch of our military. You have my confidence,
because you've earned it. You earn it every day in the difficulties
you accept and the dangers you face. You're each here to serve your
country, and your country is grateful. You're here because you believe
in America, and America believes in you. God bless. (Applause.)
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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