PROSECUTING GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Chocola). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the tremendous job our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been doing in prosecuting our global war on terror.
Just recently, I returned from a trip where I visited both the Afghan and Iraq theater of operations. Last year, I made a similar trip to Iraq, and now I can say with some certainty that we have made demonstrable progress.
Americans should not think we are without friends in this region. President Musharraf of Pakistan has been a brave and determined ally in the fight against terrorism. Strong leaders such as President Karzai and Prime Minister Allawi are beginning to emerge in Afghanistan and Iraq. They have put their lives on the line and trusted the word of the United States. We must not let them down, for our security is linked with their success in rebuilding their countries and defeating terrorists.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to Iraq, U.S. forces are achieving daily successes in confronting terrorists while Iraqi troops and police are starting to undertake the tough everyday work of rebuilding and defending a civil society. In a recent Armed Forces hearing, Army Colonel Michael Linnington, former brigade commander with the 101st Airborne Division, testified that it was not uncommon for his troops to be building schools by day and patrolling for insurgents at night. Or for that matter, it was not uncommon for U.S. troops to be fighting insurgents in one part of a town while helping with elections in another part. The troops believe in their mission and are committed to seeing it through.
Mr. Speaker, our troops have met with daily success in Iraq. However, some observers have not accurately portrayed the results of their efforts. Moreover, it is important to note that we are not the only country suffering casualties in the fight for a free Iraq. In addition to our Coalition allies, hundreds of Iraqi policemen and national guard members have been killed as they fight to ensure the future of their own country.
With respect to Afghanistan, it is quite clear that the Afghani government is progressing in securing modern rights for its people every day. Mr. Speaker, over 10 million people have registered to vote in the upcoming October presidential election in Afghanistan, and 5 million Afghanis are now enrolled in school. There are many civilian-military projects under way, and infrastructure reconstruction is beginning to reappear. The Coalition forces have changed the lives of the Afghanis and are providing them with opportunities that they never dreamed they could have.
Mr. Speaker, in Afghanistan, we met with interim President Hamid Karzai. He was effusive in his thanks to America and the work of U.S. troops. In particular, he praised the work of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade that has worked so hard to train the Afghan Army. This is just one example of the countless accomplishments of our citizen soldiers from across our Nation. The Afghani Army is now fighting hard and performing well in the hunt for al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Mr. Speaker, I do not pretend to know when our global war on terrorism will end. This is not a war we sought. We engaged in hostilities only after being attacked. This is a war which has far-reaching implications and will determine the kind of world we leave for our children and grandchildren.
America has a clear choice. We can go the way of some who suggest that we withdraw into isolationism, or we can secure the peace for our progeny by expanding the frontiers of liberty and democracy into the Middle East. While the debate surrounding our actions is legitimate, I truly believe that the answer is clear if one takes the time to look at the implications of not vigorously prosecuting this war. To be secure at home, we must act forcefully abroad. In the war on terror, "fortune favors the bold."
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that our servicemen and citizen soldiers are doing fine work in representing the very best America has to offer.