Fond Farewell, Mr. President

The Pentagon leadership yesterday paid tribute to President Bush during an armed forces farewell ceremony at Ft. Myer, Va. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, credited Bush, who now has less than two weeks left in office, for recognizing early on the threat that terrorists and unconventional threats posed and for transforming the military to meet those challenges and confront the terrorists head-on after 9/11. “He has not flinched when faced with difficult wartime decisions, including the momentous decision two years ago to send more troops into Iraq and revamp our strategy there,” said Gates of Bush. Mullen thanked the President for quickly leading the nation “from the grip of fear to a serenity of purpose and unity of action” after 9/11 and for establishing a new national security strategy that called for taking the fight to the enemy overseas to preempt another attack on US soil. Among the changes instituted under Bush’s watch, Gates noted, special operations forces have vastly increased, unmanned aerial vehicles have grown in number some 40-fold to more than 6,000, and there has been a “a genuine revolution” in the military’s ability to fuse intelligence and operations. (AFPS report by Donna Miles)