Good morning. May 17th is Armed Forces Day, when America honors the men and
women who serve in every branch of the service. Here in the Oval Office, I'm
joined by some distinguished Americans, eight members of the military who
fought bravely during the battle of Iraq. All of them were wounded in battle
and are recovering from their injuries. All of them have earned the respect
and the gratitude of our nation.
Americans are proud of every man and woman who has faced the risks of
war in the cause of freedom. Many still face dangerous duty in Iraq and
Afghanistan as they provide order and stability in liberated countries.
Many are fighting on other fronts in the war against terror, and some brave
Americans have given their lives to protect our country and to keep the
peace. Our whole nation honors their memory, and our thoughts and prayers
are with the loved ones they left behind.
The world has seen the tremendous capabilities of the United States military.
With fine allies at their side, American soldiers and sailors, airmen,
and Marines used advanced technology to gain historic victories in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Unmanned Predator aircraft carried out bombing missions
deep behind enemy lines, keeping more of our pilots out of harm's way.
Satellites high above the Earth, at any time of day or night, provided
detailed images of individual targets and whole battlefields. At least
two-thirds of the bombs used by coalition forces in Iraq were precision-guided
by lasers or global-positioning satellites, compared with just 13 percent
of the bombs we used in the 1991 Gulf War.
For all the contributions of technology, however, the battles of Iraq
and Afghanistan were won by the skill and courage of well-trained, highly
motivated men and women. In the recent fighting, Marines and soldiers charged
to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground in one of the swiftest advances
of heavy arms in history. Pilots flew through blinding sandstorms, soldiers
and Marines ran into the fact of gunfire, at times ignoring their own injuries
to save wounded comrades. Special Operations forces conducted daring raids
to seize airfields and missile launch sites. Every branch of the service
worked in united purpose, and displayed the highest standards of professionalism
With the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have removed allies of
al Qaeda, cut off sources of terrorist funding, and made certain that no
terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein's
These two battles were important victories in the larger war on terror.
Yet the terrorist attacks this week in Saudi Arabia, which killed innocent
civilians from more than half a dozen countries, including our own, provide
a stark reminder that the war on terror continues.
The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government
is taking unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And from Pakistan
to the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda
killers. So far, nearly one-half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been
captured or killed. And we will remain on the hunt until they are all brought
This nation accepts the responsibilities of keeping the peace. And the
best way to keep the peace is to make sure that our military remains second
to none. On this Armed Forces Day, we are grateful to all who serve and
sacrifice as members of the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air
Force, and Marines.