By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
Nov. 21, 2006 – The U.S. remains committed to Asia, because the two regions face similar threats from terrorism and share economic and security interests, President Bush said at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, today. Stopping to have breakfast with troops after a Southeast Asia tour that included visits to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, Bush noted that members of U.S. Pacific Command, which includes Hickam, are primarily responsible for defending U.S. interests in Asia.
"You serve freedom's cause in a lot of ways," Bush told the troops. "When you help deliver humanitarian relief to victims of natural disasters, you serve freedom's cause. When you fight terrorists wherever we find them, you serve freedom's cause. Every branch of our military is playing a vital role."
The Army and Marine Corps have deployed thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush said, and the Navy's Pacific fleet recently conducted one of the largest multinational maritime exercises in the world, involving eight nations, 35 ships, 180 aircraft and 19,000 personnel. The Air Force has brought humanitarian aid to victims in earthquakes and typhoons, and the Coast Guard works closely with China to improve enforcement of laws against maritime drug traffickers, he said.
"You serve freedom's cause when you help others be able to defend themselves," Bush said. "You serve freedom's cause when you help young democracies fight off the extremists who try to impose their hateful vision of the world. What happens in Asia-Pacific matters to America's security here at home."
Troops serving today are witnessing an ideological struggle between those who love freedom and those who hate it, Bush observed. "And the outcome of this struggle will determine how your children and grandchildren live," he said. "And I'm determined, like you are determined, that freedom prevails."
Bush thanked the troops and their families for their service and sacrifice, noting that generations of Americans will look back on this period and be grateful for their character and commitment.
"The men and women who wear the uniform are the best that America has to offer," he said. "You belong to the finest armed forces the world has ever known. I appreciate the fact that you have volunteered to wear our uniform in these troubled times, that you have volunteered knowing the dangers into which you might be sent.
"It's an incredible country when people of character stand up and say, 'I want to serve something greater than my self-interests,'" he said.
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