Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A War Declared On Us A Long Time Ago

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, speaking at the Marine Corps Association:

In recent years, America has fully joined the battle in a war that was declared on us a long time ago.

I remember vividly a day in December 1991, when as CIA Director I – along with then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney – attended an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. We were there to receive the remains of two men – two of our nation’s “bravest sons” – who had been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by terrorists in Lebanon. One was William Buckley, CIA station chief in Beirut. The other was Marine Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, who served with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

These two Americans were murdered by the same Hezbollah-linked extremists who killed hundreds of Americans in 1983 at the Marine barracks and U.S. embassy in Beirut. It is important to remember that until the morning of September 11, 2001, Hezbollah had been responsible for the deaths of more Americans, our countrymen, than any other terrorist group in the world.

Now we must deal with an even more deadly threat. Since Al Qaeda attacked America nearly six years ago, our armed forces have been tasked with removing hostile regimes and booting out terrorist networks in Iraq and Afghanistan; initially quick military successes that in both cases have led to protracted stability and reconstruction campaigns against brutal and adaptive insurgencies.

And though these conflicts will not last indefinitely in their current form and scale, we must expect our military to be called to other irregular campaigns in the future.

What we now call “asymmetric war” has become a mainstay of the contemporary battlefield, if not its centerpiece. Indeed, after Desert Storm and the initial military success of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is hard to conceive any country challenging the United States using conventional military ground forces – at least for some years to come.

Read the rest here.

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