Skip to comments.Armed Forces Farewell to the President of the United States (Arlington, VA)
Posted on 01/08/2009 3:03:07 PM PST by flyfree
Armed Forces Farewell to the President of the United States (Arlington, VA)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Arlington, VA, Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Thank you, Admiral Mullen.
Some of you of a certain generation might remember a line from the John Wayne movie Red River, an epic story of a thousand-mile cattle drive across Texas. At one point, one of the characters says: Theres three times in a mans life when he has the [a] right to yell at the moon: when he marries, when his children come, and when he finishes a job he had to be crazy to start. Well, before President Bush finishes this job, Im pleased to have this chance on behalf of the United States military to pay tribute to our Commander in Chief and give him proper thanks.
The legacy of George W. Bush in matters of war and peace began taking form more than a year before he first took the oath of office. In the fall of 1999, then-Governor Bush gave a speech at the Citadel titled A Period of Consequences. He observed that nearly a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. military was still organized more for Cold War threats than for the challenges of a new century what he called an era of car bombers and plutonium merchants and cyber terrorists and drug cartels and unbalanced dictators all the unconventional and invisible threats of new technologies and old hatreds.
On a bright Tuesday morning in September, eight months into President Bushs first term, we learned how dangerous and unpredictable this new era could be, and saw in the starkest terms how necessary was the task of transforming the American defense establishment to meet these challenges.
It was a task inspired by the vision of President Bush, propelled by the energetic advocacy of Secretary Rumsfeld, informed by the experience of our senior military leaders, and accelerated by the urgent demands of two unconventional ground wars. The result is an American military that has become more agile, lethal, and prepared to deal with the full spectrum of 21st century conflict and, on a personal note, a force that is dramatically more deployable and expeditionary than when I last served in government 15 years ago.
Consider just a few of the historic changes:
The Army has undergone its most significant restructuring in more than two generations, moving from a division-based to a modular brigade-based force;
The Navys Fleet Response Plan has nearly doubled the number of strike carrier groups that can be surged in the first weeks of a crisis;
Americas Special Forces have seen vast increases in budget, personnel, authorities and most importantly, in capabilities in the campaign against terrorism worldwide;
The number of unmanned aerial vehicles has grown some 40-fold to more than 6,000, and we have seen a genuine revolution in the militarys ability to fuse intelligence and operations;
Cold War basing arrangements in Germany, Korea, and Japan have been modernized and sized to better reflect the security requirements of this century;
New authorities and programs enable the military to build the capacity of allies and partners in cooperation with civilian agencies and organizations;
And much, much more.
As this historic institutional shift was underway, President Bush led our military through two major conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and a broader struggle against terrorist networks worldwide. He has not flinched when faced with difficult war-time decisions, including the momentous decision two years ago to send more troops into Iraq and revamp our strategy there.
Nor has the President ever hidden from the human consequences of his decisions. We have seen this in countless visits with the wounded at Walter Reed, Bethesda, and other military hospitals. And there are the meetings that he and the First Lady have held with thousands of family members of wounded and fallen troops.
The Presidents deep regard and affection for our service members and their families has played out in ways big and small: surprise visits to Iraq and Afghanistan to shake hands and high-five, and personal phone calls to those deployed over Thanksgiving. And even the occasional chest bump to unwary cadets.
Some might remember the story of Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton of the Louisiana National Guard. In January 2003, he stepped on a land mine 30 miles north of Kabul and lost his right leg. President Bush visited Michael at Walter Reed and suggested they go for a run when he received his prosthetic. Months later Michael and the president jogged around the South Lawn of the White House together.
A single promise to a single soldier. A small act that reflects President Bushs commitment to care for and honor every member of the armed forces. Mr. President, every day these volunteers execute your orders with courage and determination facing down danger for the greater good of America. On behalf of more than two million men and women in uniform, we are deeply grateful for your leadership and service to America in a time of war.
Finally and personally, I would like to thank you for granting me the opportunity to serve as Secretary of Defense. It is true that I have been known to grouse from time to time about coming back to Washington, D.C. Yet working every day with our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines has been the greatest honor of my life and I will always owe you a debt of gratitude for that. I have appreciated your steadfast confidence and support over these past two years. I wish you and Laura the very best as you begin the next phase in your lives.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
Say what you will about GWB’s political acumen or his commitment (or lack of) to Conservative principles, but, he really has maintained nothing but the best for our Armed Forces and the men and women who serve.
Bush achieved nearly everything he prioritized legislatively during his eight years so I don’t think his political acumen was lacking at all. He beat the RATS at almost every turn. His conservatism (or lack thereof) is subject for legitimate criticism, but after 9/11 I just think he did what he had to do to run a War and keep us from getting hit again.
No terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Many stopped. Great President.
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush visit Army Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton of Denham Springs, La., at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Friday, Jan. 17, 2003. Sgt. McNaughton was wounded in Afghanistan Jan. 9, 2003. The President and SSgt. McNaughton ran together at the White House Wednesday, April 14, 2004.
Very true and very well said.
I, for one, am grateful to this man. Yes, he made mistakes. No doubt. But, we may never know what he has endured. I pray he has a peaceful heart as he leaves office.
God Bless President Bush and his family.
I am very thankful for the leadership President George W. Bush has given this country for the last 8 years. I can not imagine a Democrat showing the strength and having the goals that President Bush has had and shown.
President Bush has given, to and for me, more than the 80% that President Reagan asked of us.
I believe, on a 1 - 10 scale, that President Bush has given to Republicans and Conservatives should rate at least an 8.
I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for President Bush. Although I have had differences of opinion with the president (immigration, spending, compassionate conservatism), I thank him for keeping this country safe and for bringing back integrity, morals and principles to the White House.
I am sick to think a Hussein will be occupying it soon. I try not to think about it or I get physically sick. May the Lord bless President Bush, Laura and the entire family. May He keep him safe always. Thank you, Mr. President.
I love President Bush, and Laura Bush.
He is going to be missed. He set a good example for our nation, and our children. He did his best with the cards that were dealt him.
Considering the losers we keep electing to Congress, and the idiotic media, it is shameful that some on FreeRepublic join in on their bashing.
I am beginning to agree with some of the old-timers that we have been infiltrated by disruptors.
Who doesn't? We expect way, way more from our presidents than the Founders ever intended. The first administration had just four cabinet departments: State, Treasury, War, and Justice.
We now have 15: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. There are hundreds upon hundreds of departments and agencies under the cabinet secretaries. The federal government is the nation's largest employer, largest land owner and, when it's policing agencies are counted together, the largest policing agency.
We expect the presidency to pretty much be all things to all people, from the constitutional role of commander-in-chief, to the relatively recent TV-era role of mourner-in-chief. It's even common to refer to the American president as the "leader of the free world" when, in fact, our Founders would have abhorred any such notion.
Yet, when our presidents inevitably demonstrate they are nothing more than human beings like the rest of us, we throw raging, vitriolic, vindictive temper tantrums. Then we wonder why genuine constitutional conservative principles are little understood and often rejected at the ballot box.
Thanks flyfree for Posting this Article!!
National defense is the primary function of the Federal government and one of the few areas it is SUPPOSED to spend money on. Thank you President Bush, A+.
bump for the President!
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