Remarks on United States Security Assistance to Ukraine Outside Orion, Alabama
I tell you what, Linda, if I were CEO of this company, I'd be worried. [Laughter]
Well, good afternoon, everybody. And thank you, Jim, for the invitation to be here today and, Linda, for the warm welcome today. And Congressman Sewell—woman Sewell, thank you for all you do for the people of this State and the country and for your friendship—our friendship.
I wanted to come down to Alabama to make sure that the American people know what workers at this—and by the way, if you have a seat, please take it. [Laughter] By the way, I sometimes—the press is always fair with me, but once—every once in a while, I make a mistake—not like—well, once a speech.
But, at any rate, I—years ago, when I first started talking to this—for this job, I said, "Please take your seats." And there weren't any seats. Everyone was standing. There were no chairs. [Laughter] So I just wanted to make sure I checked whether you had seats.
Look, the American people know what workers at this facility are doing and support—to support Ukraine's fight for freedom. And the bottom line is, I came to say thank you, thank you, thank you. That's the reason I'm here. I've been on those battlefields where these missiles are fired, and I spent a lot of time going in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe a total of 40 times. And I tell you what: You're—and I've been in Ukraine a lot prior to the war and on the border since the war. And it's amazing what you've done.
We see on the news every single day the atrocities and the war crimes that are being committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, directed by Vladimir Putin. And it really is gut-wrenching. We see the incredible bravery of the Ukrainian fighters defending their country from—with everything they have. And by the way, it's not just their warriors. It's not just their military. It's people in the street—people in the street—staying behind. A lot have gotten out—5 million—but a lot are staying, including women as well as men, staying to fight for their country.
And we know that the United States is leading our allies and partners around the world to make sure the courageous Ukrainians who are fighting for the future of their nation have the weapons and the capacity and ammunition and equipment to defend themselves against Putin's brutal war. A lot of war crimes being committed.
But what we don't—what we don't see—we don't always see—is the work that so much of—that makes so much of this possible. And that's you. It's not hyperbole. It's you. You make it possible. You make it possible for them to have a shot.
You know, during World War II, the United States was known as the arsenal of democracy. There was Rosie the Riveter—who I actually got to meet, quite frankly, before she passed away—and a lot of people who, in fact, kept the—kept it going. I was—a slight digression—I went over for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. And I was in Normandy, and I went up afterwards with the—to the cemetery. And I was walking by myself. And it's incredible. It's immaculate. It's perfectly manicured, and the headstones are all the same.
I looked down one row, and I saw three names—same names. A father and two sons who had died in the landing. And I was bent down, and I was reading the dates of their birth. And all of a sudden, I heard behind me, "Attention!" And I turned around, and there was a gentleman who had to be in his early eighties, in a wheelchair, being wheeled by his son who—big guy—looked like Hoss Cartwright—and his wife and one of their—and a daughter.
And he saluted me, so I saluted him, and—at the time. And I turned around, and I said: "Thank you for what you did. Thank you for saving—literally saving civilization." And he put his hand on his wife's—his wife—his hand was on her shoulder. And he said: "No, no. She did it. She did it." And I looked at her, and he said, "She built the landing craft that got us in here. She and her friends—they're the ones that did it." And he went on. And he filled up.
And all of a sudden, it dawned on me: You're doing it. You really are doing it. You're making a gigantic difference for these poor sons of guns who are under such enormous, enormous pressure and firepower. Those Javelins I saw, there's 10 for every tank that there is in Ukraine right now. You're changing people's lives. We built the weapons—[applause]. No, you really do. But we built the weapons and the equipment that helped defend freedom and sovereignty in Europe years ago. But that's true again today.
You know, some of the best, most effective weapons in our arsenal are those Javelin missiles, like the ones manufactured right here in Pike County. They're highly portable. They're extremely effective against a wide range of armored targets. They can hit targets up to 400 [4,000]* meters away and have a "fire-and-forget" capability. That means the person firing can—and I know you know it, but for anybody who may be listening—can change positions or take cover before that Javelin even strikes home and strikes the target. In fact, they've been so important there's even a story about Ukrainian parents naming their children—not a joke—their newborn child "Javelin" or "Javelina." Not a joke.
So the brave people of Ukraine, including the many civilians who have taken up arms to defend their country, deserve every ounce of credit for pushing back the Russian assault and frustrating Putin's desire to dominate Ukraine. We're at an inflection point in history, for real—it comes along about every six or eight generations—where things are changing so rapidly that we have to be in control.
Folks, there's an ongoing battle in the world between autocracy and democracy. Xi Jinping, the leader of China, who I've talked—I've spent more time with than any other world leader has—over 78 hours on the—either in person or on the telephone with him. And the fact of the matter is, he just is straightforward about it. He says that democracies cannot be sustained in the 21st century. Not a joke. They cannot be sustained, because things are moving so rapidly, democracies require consensus, and it's hard to get consensus, therefore they can't keep up with an autocracy, one-man rule. But that's not going to be the case. If that happens, the whole world changes.
And because of you—in this first, really, battle, if you will—for that to determine whether that's going to happen is because you're making it possible. You're making it possible for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves without us having to risk getting in a third world war by sending in American soldiers fighting Russian soldiers.
My dad used to have an expression. He'd say, "The only war worse than one that's intended is one that's unintended." You're allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves. And, quite frankly, they're making fools of the Russian military in many instances. A big part of the reason they've been able to keep on fighting and to make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, together with our allies and partners, have had their back.
The United States alone has committed more than 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine. You're changing the nation. You really are. Add to that significant supplies from our allies and partners, as well as many thousands of other anti-tank and anti-air weapons, helicopters, armored vehicles, artillery, coastal defense systems.
Before Russia attacked, we made sure Russia [Ukraine]* had Javelins and other weapons to strengthen their defenses so Ukraine was ready for whatever happened. And, in the last 2 months, we continued to move even more resources and equipment at a rapid pace into Ukraine. We've made sure that there are no interruptions in the flow of equipment to Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine just over 2 months ago, we have sent more than $3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine—alone, us—not counting our allies. And that money is a direct investment in defending freedom and democracy itself. Because if you don't stand up to dictators, history has shown us they keep coming. They keep coming. Their appetite for power continues to grow. And every worker in this facility and every American taxpayer is directly contributing to the case for freedom. And that's something we can all be incredibly proud of, in my view.
Last week, I sent Congress—if you excuse a point of personal privilege, talking like an old Senator—but I sent a supplemental budget—a fancy way of saying we need more money—to make sure the United States can continue to send weapons directly to the frontlines of freedom in Ukraine and to continue to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to help the Ukrainian people.
And I urge the Congress to pass this funding quickly to help Ukraine continue to succeed against Russian aggression, just as they did when they won the battle of Kyiv, and to make sure the United States and our allies can replenish our own stocks of weapons to replace what we've sent to Ukraine.
As I said from the beginning, this fight is not going to be cheap, but caving to aggression would even be more costly. We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or stand by as Russia continues its atrocities and aggression. And I know what the answer is, and I think you all do too. I'll bet I know what the answer of this plant is.
There's something else here that—to be understand. Being the arsenal of democracy also means good-paying jobs for American workers in Alabama and the States all across America where defense equipment is manufactured and assembled. Two hundred and sixty-five people here at this plant are directly employed working on the Javelin program. All told, Lockheed Martin has brought nearly 3,000 jobs to Alabama.
The Armed Forces of the United States of America is going to continue to be the best armed, most capable fighting force in the history of the world. In order to do that, we have to make sure our vital defense supplies [suppliers]* are getting the inputs and supplies they need to produce and protect and provide the full capacity.
I learned on the tour today that each of the Javelins you produce includes more than 200 semiconductors. I've been a broken record, as the press will tell you, on the—our need to be able to produce more semiconductors in the United States. We invented the sucker, going to the Moon—we, the United States. We're the one that modernized it. We've done more than anybody else. But guess what? We stopped investing in ourselves. We stopped investing in ourselves.
And so now we're back in the game, making sure that we become—we become—the primary producer of those semiconductors, computer chips that power much of our modern lives. They're in our phones, our cars, almost anything that has an on/off switch. And the semiconductor is critical to defense production capacity, as you all know better than I do.
That's why we are making it as hard as we can for Russia to get a hold of semiconductors and advanced technologies that it could use to upgrade its military during this conflict and why we're taking steps to make it easier to source what we need here in the United States during a global semiconductor shortage.
And just one more—there is just one more reason why Congress has to act quickly to provide the emergency funding of the so-called CHIPS Act by passing the broader bipartisan innovation act so we can produce tens of millions of these chips. There is something we have to focus on and something I've focused on from my earliest days of our administration: I'm determined to make sure the United States holds the technological high ground in competition with other nations, especially China, as we move forward.
Folks, you know, we used to invest, as a nation, years ago—35 years ago, we invested 2 percent of our entire GDP in research and development. We do half of that now. We do half of that. We used to be number one in the world. Now we're number 13 in the world. My administration—we're changing that.
The United States used to own the innovation field. In fact, it was a Department of [Defense]* research program that established DARPA. It was the first development of an antitank missile with advanced infrared guidance systems that culminated in today's Javelin. The bipartisan innovation act is going to help reverse decades-long decline in Federal research and development investment. And it should create [jobs]* and support entire families and expand U.S. manufacturing and strengthen our national security.
Where in God's name is it written that the United States can no longer be a leading manufacturer in the world? We've created, just in the last 17 months, 465,000 permanent manufacturing jobs in America. We have the best workers, the most competent employees, the best science in the world. And by funding the CHIPS Act, we're going to ensure the semiconductors that power the economy and our national security are made here in America again.
Today, all—all—the world's most advanced chips are made overseas. But the events of the past few years have proven beyond a doubt that America's security should never be held hostage to events overseas—not a pandemic, not a war, not the politics of ambition, or other countries.
Fundamentally, there's a national—this is a national security issue. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill. And it's an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. So let's get it done. Let's get it done.
In her introduction, Linda said she personally touched every single solitary Javelin—50,000—that had been manufactured in this plant 20 years ago. I was worried to shake your hand. I thought you may—I might be electrocuted. [Laughter] But that's where they start: right here with American skill, American craftsmanship, American patriotism. And just a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal quoted a young Hungarian [Ukrainian]* fighter saying, and I quote, "Without the Javelins, it would have been very hard to stop the enemy pushing ahead." End of quote.
So these weapons, touched by the hands—your hands—are in the hands of Ukrainian heroes, making a significant difference. And that's something each and every day you could and should be proud of. And I'm once more urging Congress to quickly pass the supplemental funding bill for over $300 billion [$30 billion]* to help the Ukrainians so they can keep all of the very, very—all of you very, very busy for a while here.
So, again, let me end where I began. I came for a basic reason, from the bottom of my heart: to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do. Thank you for what you continue to do. Unless you go out in the field and see it, you don't realize what a difference you're making.
May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you so much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 2:03 p.m. at Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations. In his remarks, he referred to Linda Griffith, Javelin senior assembler, and James D. Taiclet, president and chief executive officer, Lockheed Martin Corp.; President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; and President Xi Jinping of Russia. He also referred to S. 1260.
* White House correction.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on United States Security Assistance to Ukraine Outside Orion, Alabama Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/355698