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'Be Proud, Strong, Ready,' Bush Tells 10th Mountain Troops

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2002 – The Commander-in-Chief today praised 10th Mountain Division soldiers some of whom had battled al Qaeda and Taliban troops in Afghanistan during a visit to the unit's Fort Drum headquarters in Watertown, N.Y.

President George W. Bush saluted the 10th Mountain troops, noting they have "a vital mission" which they do well. He also lauded other service men and women, military families and veterans.

"I'm honored to serve with you," President George W. Bush told troops of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., on July 19. The commander in chief said the 10th Mountain's soldiers and other members of the nation's armed forces are making America's resolution clear to both terrorists and tyrants. White House Photo by Tina Hager. (Click photo for screen-resolution image) Additional photo

"I'm honored to serve with you," the president said.

Bush said the 10th Mountain's soldiers and other members of the nation's armed forces are making America's resolution clear to both terrorists and tyrants.

"We will prepare deliberately and act decisively," the president said. "America will not leave the safety of our people and the future of peace in the hands of a few evil and destructive men.

"We will defeat the enemies of freedom," Bush emphasized.

Bush said the 10th Mountain fought well in the snow and cold against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in March during the battle of Shahi Khot valley in eastern Afghanistan.

That battle left the Taliban "in ruins," and the Afghanistan people, liberated, Bush told a sea of cheering 10th Mountain soldiers.

Bush remarked that division troops cleared out more than 100 enemy-held caves and seized 500 stockpiles of ammunition during duty in Afghanistan. And, "no cave," he noted, was deep enough to shelter the Taliban and Al Qaeda from American forces.

The United States is not only fighting a war "against the advance of terror and its agents," Bush said. The struggle is for democracy, freedom and human dignity.

The United States will use diplomacy, "when possible," as a tool in the war against global terrorism, Bush remarked. However, the president emphasized that America will also use "force, when necessary" in combating terrorists, noting that 60,000 U.S. troops are deployed worldwide in the war.

Bush has accused some nations of harboring terrorists and developing and storing weapons of mass destruction. Those countries, he added, are also dangers to freedom.

"Against such enemies we cannot sit quietly and hope for the best," Bush continued, "To ignore this mounting danger is to invite it.

"America must act against these terrible threats before they are fully formed," he emphasized.

Bush told the troops they'd be compensated for their labors, noting that he'd initiated the largest military pay increase in 20 years. American troops, he added, should also not worry about coming under the jurisdiction of the recently established International Criminal Court.

Bush told the 10th Mountain soldiers that they and other Americans have arrived at "a decisive moment" in the history of freedom. "As Commander-in-Chief I leave you this message: 'Be proud, be strong, and be ready,'" Bush said.

"May God bless you all," he concluded.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident George W. Bush greets a 10th Mountain Division soldier during his troop visit to Fort Drum, N.Y., July 19. White House Photo by Tina Hager.  
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