National Guard and Reserve Component Caucus Breakfast   [open pdf - 32KB]

As the recent phase of the campaign in Afghanistan demonstrates so clearly, our work in this war on terrorism is far from over. Even in Afghanistan we have a lot of work to do, a lot of difficult, dangerous work. And history has long proven, and as we have seen this past weekend, half-defeated and desperate enemies continue to pose considerable dangers and risk to our troops. We've seen some of the fiercest fighting so far in the last few days rooting out hard core al Qaeda members holed up in the remote mountains of Eastern Afghanistan. The Americans who have been killed in this action speak volumes about the sacrifices that our young men and women are called upon and are willing to make in defense of freedom---as do all the brave Americans who have been injured or given their lives in the cause of freedom, and as the President said the other day, "to make sure that our country is safe from future attack." We not only have delivered enormous numbers of supplies, through the success of our campaign on the ground, we've established a secure environment in which international relief organizations are now able to work. But it's a fact that we couldn't do what we have done in this campaign against terrorism so far and what we will have to continue to do for some time to come without our citizen-soldiers.Next Monday marks six months since the attack of September 11th and in these past months Americans have come to appreciate more fully just how vital our Guard and Reserve are to our country's security. In Operation Enduring Freedom, the war overseas on terrorism, we have today over 91,000 service members from the Reserve Component taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom and what we call the operation here to protect the skies over the United States, Operation Noble Eagle, as well as all of our other operations. They are contributing major pieces of significant parts of the operation: 50 percent of the force protection for our bases and installations around the world and here at home is provided by Guardsmen and Reservists; 25 percent of warfighting support; and 25 percent of command and control, communications, intelligence and mobilization support. The willingness of Americans to come forward and serve our country and the willingness of the members of our Guard and Reserve to serve on active duty has been remarkable and heartwarming, and I would add that the employer support so far has been strong.

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