Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President to the Heritage Foundation

May 01, 2003

The Ronald Reagan Building

Washington, D.C.

12:03 P.M. EDT

Well, thank you all very much. Thank you, Ed. I'll tell the President what he missed. (Laughter.) I'm here this morning -- obviously, the President planned to be here today, and then you know that he's headed for the Pacific right now to get on board the USS Lincoln, where he'll address the nation tonight from the carrier. She's steaming back, has been deployed for almost 10 months in the Gulf, played a major role in the war in Iraq and is our first carrier returning home. And he thought it was appropriate to get out there and thank the troops, but to do it in front of the American people.

Of course, the interesting part of it is, he's going to fly onto the carrier and do a trap -- that is, they'll catch him with cable arresting gear. No President has ever done that before. (Laughter.) And I'm not sure he told Laura what he's going to do, either. (Laughter.)

Anyway, he was really looking forward to it. He's promised Ed a rain-check. But I'm here this morning as a pinch-hitter for him and on behalf of the Heritage Foundation. (Applause.)

You know, Heritage for 30 years has made a lasting contribution to the nation and to the important public policy debates and discussions of our time, from the economy to social policy to national defense. You've always understood that government does not create wealth, it does not create jobs, but the right policies in Washington can create the conditions for growth and new jobs. Free trade, lower taxes, spending discipline here in Washington, D.C. have always served America well. And President Bush is determined to ensure that they keep serving us well in the years ahead.

Heritage has always reminded us as well of our founding principles and our bedrock values as a nation: our belief in limited government, in democracy, in pluralism and the rule of law. These are the fixed stars by which the American ship of state navigates. They underpin our earliest achievements and they will help us to attain our future successes.

But along with an unshakable commitment to our nation's founding principles, Heritage has always recognized the need to adapt strategies to our changing times. During the Cold War, Heritage was a staunch supporter of two of the policies that helped save the free world from the spread of communism: the doctrines of containment and deterrence.

Yet, in a post-September 11th world, Heritage was among the first to recognize that we cannot to continue to rely upon these old, Cold War doctrines in the future. How do you contain rogue states willing to provide terrorists with weapons of mass destruction? How do you deter terrorists who have no nation to defend and who are willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to kill Americans?

These problems will define the new era in American foreign policy. They are problems that the American government has never before faced, and they require new thinking, courageous leadership and bold action.

Fortunately, in this period of challenge, the United States has a leader in President Bush, who has the patience and the resolve and the moral clarity necessary to wage the war on terror and to win it. (Applause.)

The President has made clear from the very beginning that this will be a long and a focused effort, not only because the terrorists operate in the shadows, but because they also enjoy the backing and support of outlaw states. It is this alliance between terrorist networks seeking weapons of mass destruction and rogue states developing or already possessing these weapons that constitutes the gravest threat to America's national security.

Therefore, a vital element of our strategy against terror is to break the alliances between terrorist organizations and terrorist states. In the case of Iraq, President Bush made it absolutely clear that the United States would not tolerate a growing danger from this dictator and his brutal regime. Today, Saddam Hussein's regime is history. (Applause.)

And there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the President of the United States keeps his word. (Applause.)

As virtually everyone agrees today, Iraqi Freedom has been one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted. It followed a carefully drawn plan, with fixed objectives and the flexibility to meet them. Secretary Rumsfeld, General Franks, General Myers, General Pace and those who report to them have served their nation exceedingly well. (Applause.)

As a former Secretary of Defense, I've never been more proud of the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military. (Applause.) By their skill, by their courage, they've made our nation and the world more secure.

Having been involved in planning and waging the Persian Gulf War in 1991, I can say with some authority that this campaign has displayed vastly improved capabilities that we did not have a dozen years ago.

In Desert Storm, only 20 percent of our air-to-ground fighters could guide a laser-guided bomb to the target. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, all of our air-to-ground fighters were capable of employing laser-guided bombs. As a result, with only two-thirds of the attack aircraft deployed in Desert Storm, we could strike twice as many targets.

Our ground forces have also improved their combat power. In Desert Storm, the Marines had the M-60 tank. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, they had the Abrams M1, equipped with a thermal sight, 120 millimeter gun, which increased their range by 50 percent, enabled them to engage the enemy before they could even fire a single round.

In Desert Storm, our Bradley armored vehicle crews had to estimate the range of their targets, and often missed on their first round. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, thanks to improved laser range finders, the Bradley crews could hit their targets with their very first round of fire.

We've also improved our ability to locate enemy targets. In Desert Storm, our forces had only one type on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, we had 10 different types of UAVs, ranging from tactical systems that would allow our soldiers to look over the next hill to strategic systems that operated at 65,000 feet and could provide images the size of the state of Illinois.

And we've dramatically improved our ability to make use of targeting photos. In Desert Storm, it often took two days for target planners to identify a target, to locate its coordinates, to deliver them to the bomber crew to plan the strike and deliver weapons on target. This time in Iraq, we had near real-time imaging of targets with photos and coordinates transmitted by e-mail to bombers already in flight.

Our command and control systems have also become more flexible and effective. In Desert Storm, the Air Tasking Order, which specifies which units will take part in combined air operations and the targets that each of them will strike, was more than 800 pages long and required five hours to download and print and had to be flown daily to our aircraft carriers.

In Iraq, the air tasking order was immediately available to all participating air commands -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines -- on the military Internet.

In Desert Storm, only the air component commander had a near real-time picture of the air campaign provided by our airborne warning and control aircraft. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, all of our component commanders shared a real-time computer display of our air, land and sea forces, tailored to their specific needs.

On the ground, battalion brigade and division commanders in Desert Storm had to rely on maps, grease pencils and radio reports to track the movements of forces. This time, in Iraqi Freedom, these same commanders had a real-time computer display of all of our forces.

These advances in command and control allowed us to integrate joint operations much more effectively than ever before, thereby enabling commanders to make decisions more rapidly, to target strikes more precisely, to minimize human casualties, civilian casualties, and to accomplish the missions more successfully.

General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has said that all of these changes amount to a new American way of war. And certainly the way we conducted Operation Iraqi Freedom differed significantly from our performance in Desert Storm. The 1991 war began with a 38 day air campaign followed by a brief ground attack. This time around, in Iraqi Freedom, the ground war began before the air war.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein had time to set Kuwait's oil fields ablaze. In the current conflict, our Special Operations forces were sent in early to protect 600 oil wells in southern Iraq, to prevent environmental catastrophe and to safeguard a vital resource for the people of Iraq.

During Operation Desert Storm, Saddam managed to fire scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia. This time was different. Again, thanks to our use of Special Operations forces, they seized control of the missile launch baskets in western Iraq and prevented their use by the enemy.

Our Special Ops forces, joined by those of our British, Australian and Polish allies,played a much more central role in the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom than they did 12 years ago.

During Desert Storm we faced a massive flow of refugees in needed aid and shelter. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, we averted a large-scale humanitarian crisis. U.S. and British Royal Marines succeeded in taking the Al Faw Peninsula and bringing food and water and medical supplies to liberated Iraqis even as the fighting continued.

If you look at the overall effort, Saddam Hussein apparently expected that this war would essentially be a replay of Desert Storm. Although he realized there were some 250,000 coalition forces stationed in the Gulf on the eve of the war, he seems to have assumed there was ample time to destroy the oil wells that he had already rigged to explode, and to destroy the bridges and the dams that he wired.

But the tactics employed by General Franks were bold, they made the most of every technological advantage our military possesses, and they succeeded in taking the enemy by surprise. Indeed, with less than half of the ground forces and two-thirds of the air assets used 12 years ago in Desert Storm, Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks have achieved a far more difficult objective in less time and with fewer casualties. (Applause) Coming on the heels of our victory in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom is proof positive of the success of our efforts to transform our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

With the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the people of Iraq will be able to choose new leaders who will respect their rights, reflect their character and represent their aspirations. The task ahead is difficult, because Iraq is recovering not just from three weeks of war, but from three decades of brutal totalitarian rule. Yet, they are determined to succeed and we are determined to help them succeed.

Every day, life in Iraq is improving as coalition troops secure unsafe areas, bring food and medical care to the needy and make sure Iraq's drinking water is clean and dependable. And as Iraqis carry on the hard work of building a prosperous and peaceful democratic nation, they can count on the friendship and on the support of the people of the United States. (Applause.)

An Iraqi government that is of the people, by the people and for the people will serve as a dramatic and an inspiring example to other nations in the Middle East. As the President has said, the power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and to turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace.

The men and women of the Heritage Foundation have long recognized the power of freedom to transform human lives and to revitalize entire societies. You know that free societies value the arts of conciliation and compromise, and reject the ideologies of hatred and terror. Your faith in freedom's ultimate triumph was vindicated when the Berlin Wall was toppled, when an evil empire vanished from the face of the earth.

Today, freedom has a new set of totalitarian enemies. Once again we're called on to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind. And once again, your faith in freedom's triumph will be vindicated.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:15 P.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President to the Heritage Foundation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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