Presidential Radio Address - 21 May 2005
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today, I can report to you that we are making good progress in advancing the cause of freedom, defeating the forces of terror, and transforming our military so we can meet the emerging threats of the 21st century. As I speak, Laura is in the Middle East to help advance the freedom agenda; and her message is a powerful one -- that by working together for liberty, we will create a future of peace and opportunity for women and men worldwide.
On Monday, I will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House to discuss freedom's remarkable progress in his nation. Afghanistan now has a constitution, an elected President, and its citizens will return to the polls this September to elect provincial councils in the lower house of the National Assembly. We're helping Afghanistan's elected government solidify these democratic gains and deliver real change. A nation that once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom, and we will help them succeed.
Terrorists know that there is no room for them as freedom takes root in the broader Middle East, so they are fighting to stop its progress. But in recent weeks, we have dealt them a series of devastating blows. In Afghanistan, we have brought to justice dozens of terrorists and insurgents. In Pakistan, one of Osama bin Laden's senior terrorist leaders, a man named Al-Libbi, was brought to justice. In Iraq, we captured two deputies of the terrorist Zarqawi, and our forces have killed or captured hundreds of terrorists and insurgents near the Syrian border.
Our strategy is clear: We will fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. While some difficult days still lie ahead, these recent victories are making America safer and the world more secure.
As we make progress against today's enemies, we are also transforming our military to defeat the enemies we might face in the decades ahead. On Friday, I will speak to future leaders of our military who are graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy about how we are making our Armed Forces faster, more agile, and more lethal.
To deal with the emerging threats of the 21st century, we are building a military that can deploy rapidly and deliver more fire power with fewer forward deployed forces. However, much of our military is still deployed in ways that reflect the threats of the Cold War. So last summer, I announced a plan to reposition our forces over the next decade. This shift will bring home 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel, while still maintaining a significant overseas presence. It will also allow us to reduce the stress on our military families and make the best overall use of our resources. In the months and years ahead, we will continue to do what is necessary to prepare our Armed Forces to protect the American people in this new century.
The war on terror continues, and we are making solid progress, but we must not become complacent. We will continue to pursue terrorists abroad. We will continue to support democratic change throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader Middle East. And we will do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform and give them the tools they need to prevail.
Thank you for listening.