RELATING TO THE LIBERATION OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE AND THE VALIANT SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AND COALITION FORCES -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2004)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 557, "relating to the liberation of the Iraqi people and the valiant service of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces." First and foremost, I believe that it is important to take this time to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have sacrificed under difficult and dangerous conditions to make our military efforts successful in Iraq. It is also important to recognize the sacrifices of the families of our troops, friends, and those who employ the members of our Guard and Reserve forces deployed overseas. Our appreciation goes out to these individuals for their support during these challenging times.
Last October I had the opportunity to visit with our military men and women in Iraq and survey the operations of the U.S. reconstruction mission to Iraq. I have never been more proud to be an American than when I witnessed our troops fulfilling their mission in difficult and dangerous circumstances. While we still have a long way to go in Iraq, I saw many signs of progress in helping meet the basic needs of the Iraqi people.
From Wisconsin alone there are over 1,460 members of the Air and Army National Guard who are serving on active duty. This includes military units activated from the Third Congressional District, which I represent. Wisconsin's 229th Army National Guard Engineer Company from Prairie Du Chien and Platteville, and 652nd Army Reserves Engineer Company from Ellsworth are currently serving in Iraq.
We welcomed the members of Wisconsin's 829th Army National Guard Engineer Detachment from Richland Center back home recently. We also welcomed back members of Wisconsin's 1158th Army National Guard Transportation Detachment from Black River Falls and Tomah, serving in Fort Irwin, CA. In addition, the 128th Infantry Battalion headquartered in Eau Claire was recently alerted for possible mobilization. The people of western Wisconsin are proud of their service and the service of all men and women of our armed forces during this important time in our Nation's history. I also want to recognize the incredible work of the people at Fort McCoy and Volk Field in western Wisconsin. They are working countless hours to get our troops ready.
As the day pass, we must not forget those who have died in the mission to liberate the people of Iraq. Over 540 American soldiers have died while serving in Iraq. 2LT Jeremy Wolfe, MAJ Christopher Splinter, and PFC Bert Hoyer from the Third District in Wisconsin, each paid the ultimate sacrifice to give the people of Iraq the greatest gift of all-their freedom. These young men exemplify all that is good and decent about America. Their loss is tragic; their sacrifices should not be forgotten.
I do, however, have reservations about certain language in this resolution, in particular, the references to the world being safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein. That subject is highly debatable. While I agree that the Iraqi people are better off free from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein, the most critical threat to international security is still at large and still very active. To this day, it is al Qaeda, who remains the number one security threat and we must combat that international threat with an international coalition.
It is al Qaeda that was directly responsible for the attacks on September 11 and it is al Qaeda that is reconstituting itself as a truly global terrorist threat. As we know now, Saddam Hussein's regime, as ruthless as it was, did not possess an imminent threat against its own neighbors, let alone against the United States. We still need a thorough investigation of our intelligence failures so future miscalculations, that change world opinion against us, are not repeated.
As our military effort continues, I, and other Members of Congress will work to ensure that our service men and women have all the resources necessary to fulfill this continuing mission. My thoughts and prayers are with those serving our country, as well as their families. America is firmly behind our troops and we are all hoping to see them home safe, secure and soon.
May God continue to bless these United States of America.