By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
April 4, 2007 – Without delay, the United States needs to provide American men and women in uniform with the funds, supplies and weapons they need to get the job done, the deputy secretary of defense said here today. "Importantly, we need to send a clear message of resolve," Gordon England said today at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
Speaking to a packed room of about 850 active and retired servicemembers, as well as defense industry officials and other civilian professionals, England said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first two battles in what will prove to be a long war against terrorism. They will not be lost militarily as long as the collective will, determination and resolve to win are intact, he said.
"But it can be lost in Washington," England warned. "Ultimately, all wars are about political will."
England said partisan and ideological differences are unimportant.
"It's not about Democrats, it's not about Republicans. It's not about liberals, and it's not about conservatives. Rather, what it's about it is a shared political vision of preserving freedom and liberty," he said.
Some argue waging a global war is too hard and too costly and recommend quitting or scaling back, England said.
"We cannot and should not retreat," he responded, "(because) if we do, our enemies will not retreat. They will not disengage."
Describing the nature of America's adversaries, England said the enemy is real, dangerous and absolutely determined. All who love liberty and freedom are "fair game to them," he said.
"On Sept. 11, terrorists turned civilian airliners into guided missiles and they killed 3,000 people of 60 different nationalities that day. I've thought about ... why it is they killed 3,000 people that day," England said. "I've concluded the reason that 3,000 people were killed is because they didn't know how to kill 30,000 or 300,000 or 3 million, but they would have if they could have, and they're still trying."
England offered Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's Combatant Status Review Tribunal from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center as proof of terrorists' unrelenting drive. During his March 19 hearing, Muhammad admitted to playing "many roles" in the bombings of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998 and the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
"If any one of you questions our enemy's willingness, (you) should read the transcripts of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad; they're on the Web. They're in the newspaper," England said.
In closing, England implored audience members to do all they can do "to ensure that freedom prevails in this current struggle."
"Help build a world where our children and our grandchildren, and all who cherish freedom can live their lives in peace," he said.
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