De Oppresso Liber

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: March 29, 2003
Location: Washington, DC

The Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is tasked with supporting American military operations in Southwest and Central Asia. From Kenya to Kyrgyztan, 5th Group is the Army's 'first responder' to emerging conflicts. Their motto, "de Oppresso Liber", accurately describes the goal of America's efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq, operations in which 5th Group soldiers have played leading roles. Translated from the Latin, their motto instructs these brave and honorable Americans "to liberate the oppressed."

5th Group's motto is a poignant reminder that America fights wars not for territorial expansion, aggression, or empire, but for freedom, security, and democracy. In the wars of the 20th Century, America was aligned against totalitarian and communist governments, whose violent aggression threatened America, and all free nations, with oppression and brutality.

During the Second World War, American troops who fought on the beaches of Normandy, on the islands of the South Pacific, and in the skies above Germany not only brought security to America, but also occasioned the liberation of millions of innocent voices struggling to be heard under the jackboot of totalitarianism. Throughout our history, the safety of America has been integrally tied to the protection of freedom and promotion of democracy throughout the world.

It is no accident that those nations who currently pose the greatest threat to the United States and our citizens are some of the most oppressive on the planet. Under the Taliban government in Afghanistan, terrorists freely plotted the destruction of our cities and the mass murder of our citizens, while an evil government tortured, raped, and killed those who dared to oppose its misrule. In October 2001, the soldiers of the 5th Special Forces Group, followed by thousands more American soldiers, entered Afghanistan to liberate the oppressed, and Americans are safer for it.

The elite soldiers of 5th Group, specially trained in foreign languages such as Arabic, Pakistani, and Persian, entered Afghanistan to forge military cooperation with the Northern Alliance and clear the way for the air and ground operations that routed Al Qaeda and overthrew the repressive Taliban regime. These brave soldiers do not rely on technological dominance, but on their extraordinary skill, to defeat the enemy. In Afghanistan, for example, 5th Group soldiers conducted staggeringly effective military operations deep behind enemy lines…on horseback. These same soldiers are now clearing airfields, hunting for weapons of mass destruction, and undermining the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein has built an empire on top of the graves of the countless victims of his brutal reign. For decades, he has squandered his people's wealth in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, weapons that he has used against his own people. He has launched numerous wars of aggression against his neighbors, and is a sponsor of global terrorist organizations. The United States is leading a coalition to eliminate his brutal regime for the benefit of both the American and Iraqi people, and indeed the entire world.

From Afghanistan and Albania to the United Kingdom and Uganda, governments throughout the world have publicly committed to assisting America to disarm Saddam Hussein. Many others have quietly offered material support for our efforts to liberate the oppressed people of Iraq. These nations, many of which have suffered under authoritarian rule in the past, understand the danger of living at the mercy of tyrannical regimes that threaten peace and stability with weapons of mass murder.

Like all Americans, I hope and pray for the safety of our troops who fight so that we may remain free. Along with our on-going operations in the war against terrorism, this war may not be over quickly. But we are resolved as a nation to carry out our mission in support of peace, stability, and freedom. We are certain that our cause is just, and necessary. As President Bush has noted, "Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty."

Our fight is not with the Iraqi people, but with their oppressors, and our military takes extraordinary measures to avoid striking targets that could endanger innocents. No country in the history of warfare has taken as much care to avoid civilian casualties as the United States. This fact speaks volumes not only about how we fight, but also about why we fight.

I am grateful for President Bush's steady leadership and I have no doubt that our military men and women are the finest in the world and will defend our nation with skill, precision, courage, and honor. This war will require patience and perseverance, but America will not shirk from its responsibilities. Hundreds of thousands of American and coalition soldiers are risking their lives so that America may be safe, and so that others may be free. Tens of thousands of Kentuckians are among these noble forces, and our prayers are with them.

May God bless America. And may He bless our soldiers in harm's way who seek to uphold the motto of the 5th Special Forces Group: De Oppresso Liber.

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