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Travels with Gates
Gates Visits Joint Readiness Training Center

By Jean Dubiel
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT POLK, La., May 4, 2007 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk today to observe training as soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., were rotating through the training center.

Gates didn’t make public comments at Polk, but he observed a convoy moving through the mock village of Mosallah. As role players approached the vehicles offering to sell everything from fruit to the shirts on their backs, the soldiers maintained their professionalism during their training.

With role players acting as Iraqi police, soldiers and civilians, the 101st soldiers approached the village just as a crowd was gathering around a traffic accident. Angry shouts and gestures from the crowd created uneasiness as the convoy passed the scene. Soldiers experience scenarios like this played out in real life while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Defense Secretary Thanks Wounded Warriors

By Elaine Wilson
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas , May 4, 2007 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today thanked dozens of wounded warriors for their service and sacrifice during a visit to Brooke Army Medical Center here.

The personal visit “really shows you care,” Army 1st Lt. James Barclay, a burn patient wounded in Afghanistan on Aug. 19 by an improvised explosive device, told the secretary.

“There are a lot of people who care,” Gates responded, shaking the wounded soldier’s hand.

Gates spent time with each servicemember, most times bedside, asking about their medical care, hometowns and future plans.

“This is the best facility in the world for burns,” Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Bruce told Gates. “They treat us very good here.”

Bruce was one of eight sailors injured Dec. 1 when a steam pipe ruptured aboard the Guam-based submarine tender USS Frank Cable. Two sailors have since died of their injuries. Read More

Gates Urges Vigilance in Terror War

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

DALLAS, May 3, 2007 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today urged Americans to learn from past mistakes and steel their resolve to see the war on terror through to victory.

Gates warned during an address to the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce here that giving up the fight too soon would be a devastating mistake with longstanding consequences. He urged the country to allocate the resources needed to win the war as it rebuilds its elements of national power, which withered after the end of the Cold War.

Re-donning the professor’s hat he wore as president of Texas A&M University, Gates offered a history lesson and cautioned against repeating past mistakes. He recounted five times during the past 90 years -- all after long conflicts -- when the United States cut its defense spending, disarmed outright or otherwise withdrew from the world.

“Each time we paid a price,” he said.

The most recent instance was in the 1990s, when the fall of the Soviet Union led people to seek a “peace dividend” rather than recognize new threats that were emerging, he said. Read More

Secretary Visits ‘Amazing’ Rehabilitation Center

By Elaine Wilson and Norma Guerra
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, May 3, 2007 –Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited here today to meet wounded warriors and take a firsthand look at the Center for the Intrepid, the Army’s state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation center.

“Amazing,” Gates said, summing up his opinion of the center with one word.

The $50 million facility, built thanks to the generosity of 600,000 Americans, is dedicated to the nation’s military heroes wounded in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The facility, designed with the latest generation’s interests in mind, includes an indoor running track, firing range, wave pool, climbing wall, prosthetic center, gait lab and a computer assisted rehabilitation environment known as CAREN.

As Gates toured the 60,000-square-foot center, he stopped to thank each wounded warrior he met along the way for their service and sacrifice, and he presented each with a secretary of defense coin. Read More

Gates Extols Value of Troop-Support Efforts

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

DALLAS, May 3, 2007 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today expressed thanks to Americans who support the troops and urged people to check out the Defense Department’s America Supports You program.

Gates told several hundred members of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce here that he’s grateful for the support many are providing their employees serving in the National Guard and reserves. “You value these citizen soldiers and know they’re more than worth retaiing,” he said. “Thank you for believing in them.”

The secretary acknowledged it’s “a tough time for them and for their families” and said it means a lot for these troops to know they have their employers’ support. “I can assure you that your help and understanding do not go unnoticed,” he said. Read More

Gates Joins Revelers to Welcome Troops Home

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

DALLAS, May 3, 2007 – Almost 200 deployed troops got a Texas-sized homecoming today as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates joined hundreds of friends, family members and local residents to welcome them home from the Middle East for two weeks of rest and recuperation leave.

Gates took his place alongside the flag-waving, banner-carrying, chanting revelers gathered at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s International Arrivals Terminal to meet the troops as their flight arrived from Kuwait. He shook hands with every arriving servicemember and thanked them for their service.

“These kinds of public receptions are really important,” the secretary said later during a speech at the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce. “Whatever disagreements exist over the war in Iraq, we are all united in our admiration of the men and women who have volunteered to serve our nation during these challenging times.”Read More

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Brig. Gen. Daniel Bolger, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, talk while on their way to observe training at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, La., May 4, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Jean Dubiel   Hi Res | Photo Essay
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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visits with Army Staff Sgt. Randal C. Young at Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, May 4, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Norma Guerra   Hi Res | Photo Essay
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks to the Greater Dallas, Texas Chamber of Commerce
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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (left) speaks with wounded Pfc. Patrick Moore, (right) Marine 1st Lt. Kelly Bowman (center) and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek McGinnis during a visit to the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, May 3, 2007. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson   Hi Res | Photo Essay
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One hundred ninety-three servicemembers from all branches of the armed forces returning from Iraq are greeted by their families and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, Texas, May 3, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby   Hi Res | Photo Essay