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Senator Maria Cantwell's Statement on the Senate Resolution Supporting U.S. Troops

Location: Washington, DC

March 20, 2003

Senator Maria Cantwell's statement (as prepared) on the Senate Resolution Supporting U.S. Troops

Mr. President, I come to the floor this afternoon to express, on behalf of Washington state, our prayers and thoughts for the men and women of the United States armed forces that have now been called to duty in service of their country.

I am proud to join my colleagues in the Senate and Americans throughout the country to come together to support our troops and pray that their mission is completed quickly, effectively, and with minimal casualties.

America's deepest hope is for a swift conclusion to this war to liberate Iraq and protect the world from its weapons of mass destruction.

We in Washington state are proud to be the home to thousands of troops from our state that are currently serving our country in this conflict.

The men and women of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, home ported in Everett, Washington, have been deployed in the region since last summer and are a critical element of our efforts as a launching stage for air operations, including fifty missions over Southern Iraq just yesterday.

Air operations will depend heavily on tanker aircraft, many of which based in Spokane, Washington's Fairchild Air Force base. And almost all air missions will be dependent upon the critical support of radar jammers and P-3 aircraft, many of which are based in Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Washington.

In the ground operations, troops from Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, WA, will be providing critical infantry support. And cargo planes from McChord Air Force Base, also near Tacoma, have and will continue to be crucial in providing transportation support.

We also recognize the important sacrifices being made by the National Guard and reserve units in our state that have been activated, leaving jobs and livelihoods behind to serve the call to duty.

And let us not forget the parents, wives, husbands, friends and children of the men and women of our armed forces, whose support - in the face of fear and anxiety - is admirable.

We are enormously proud of our fellow Washingtonians that our serving the nation. Along with men and women from all fifty states serving in the military, these brave and courageous Americans have volunteered to put their lives to defend the security of our country and the stability of our world.

Our prayers are with them, and we look forward to their speedy success and return home.

I have tremendous confidence in the men and women of our armed services to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion.
Yet, this support for the effort is accompanied by a deep sense of anxiety and concern.

Mr. President, nobody wants war.

The death, destruction and misery of war are things that we should never ignore and we cannot forget. When our troops are called to defend our nation and international peace, we do so with a heavy heart but strong confidence that we will prevail.

Mr. President, in reaching our objective of disarmament, we must not forget the plight of the Iraqi people.

Iraqi civilians have been victims of a brutal, harsh and inhumane dictator that has not only stripped away political liberty and free expression, but has combined the tactics of torture, deprivation and murder to maintain his terrible regime.

We must soberly recognize that the Iraqi people will be innocent victims of this conflict and we must remain dedicated to doing everything in our power to ensure their safety and, ultimately, liberation.

Importantly, this dedication must extend beyond military success. We, in this chamber, must recognize that the prospect of creating a stable, post-Saddam Iraq will be a huge, expensive and politically volatile endeavor.

This will not be easy, especially given the historic rivalries among Iraq's Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni population.

However, whatever the costs and whatever the commitment, we owe it to ourselves and the world to ensure that the liberation of Iraq our troops are fighting for is not wasted away by a failed post-war strategy.

Mr. President, our troops are answering the call of duty.

As our hearts go out to their families and loved ones, we are a nation that is profoundly grateful for their courage, dedication and sense of mission.

We know that our troops will meet the challenge that they have been given.

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