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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Terrorists Target U.S., Its People, Cheney Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2006 The United States and the American people are "the prime targets" of terrorists who intend to harm any nation that opposes their aims, Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday in New York City.

Speaking at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Cheney said America's enemies are "committed fanatics" who "wear no uniform, have no regard for the laws of warfare and feel unconstrained by any standard of morality."

Combating this unprecedented threat represents a significant test of military skill and national resolve, he said. "Those of us in positions of responsibility have a duty to wage a broad-scale effort for the sake of this nation's freedom and security," he said.

Even though terrorism still threatens the stability of Afghanistan, "it's impossible to overstate all that our coalition has achieved," Cheney said.

Just four years ago Afghanistan "was in the grip of a cruel dictatorship" and is now "a free country with a market economy, equality for women, millions of children going to school for the first time," the vice president said.

"When our forces return home from that part of the world, they will be able to be proud of their service for the rest of their lives," he said.

American troops and the Iraqi people are also making great progress in Iraq. The drafting of a constitution, the standing up the Iraqi Security Forces, and three successful elections in 2005 were all testaments to this progress, he said.

"These Americans in uniform have been absolutely relentless in their duties -- going out every day, striking the enemy, conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, capturing killers," Cheney said. "They have faced long deployments, the hardship of separation from home and family, the loss of comrades."

Great strides have been made to bring Iraq closer to becoming "a democratic country that can defend itself ... when that goal is achieved, all of us will live in a safer world," he said.

The United States is determined to stay the course in Iraq, he said. "Our strategy in Iraq is clear. Our tactics will remain flexible; we'll keep at the work until we finish the job. Progress has not come easily, but it has been steady."

Cheney also reiterated that troop levels there will be determined by commanders on the ground "not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C."

The vice president also talked about a recent trip he made to Pakistan, in which he was heartened to see Americans helping the victims of the massive earthquake that struck the northern part of the country in October.

Within 48 hours of the earthquake, American troops began airlifting large amounts of equipment and supplies to the devastated area, he said. "The U.S. Army set up a (mobile hospital) unit, with sophisticated medical supplies, military physicians, nurses, and physicians' assistants, and even some volunteer doctors from the United States," Cheney said.

"It's quite a feeling to stand in the remotest hinterlands and see the American flag and citizens of our country giving aid to the desperate, including medical care to people who had never seen a doctor before in their entire lives," he said.

"The United States is a good and a generous land. We're a nation that believes in ideals, that upholds them in our own country, and that acts on them throughout the world," Cheney concluded.

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