Roche reviews first year of war on terrorism

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott Elliott
  • Air Force Print News
"Looking back at what we've achieved over the past 11 months, we can all be proud to call ourselves airmen."

That was the bottom line of Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James G. Roche's speech at the Tuskegee Airmen's 31st Annual National Convention recently in Atlanta.

"Often, our legacy is driven by events beyond our control, by circumstances we didn't create," he said. "That situation exists now and is one we all face, military and civilian: the war on terrorism.

"We all know how our nation changed on Sept. 11," he said. "The attack tested our mettle as few events will in our lifetime. In all, (more than) 3,000 innocent people were murdered on that tragic September morning."

While firefighters successfully battled the blazes caused by the attacks, Roche said the real fire was just beginning.

"They were replaced with another fire that burned in every American, and in freedom-loving people around the world -- a fierce determination to root out and defeat the evil behind these attacks."

Following a recall of personnel to active duty, activation of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members and Stop-Loss action, the deployment to expeditionary bases began, the secretary said.

"When all the pieces were in place, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines returned fire," he said. "We returned fire with conviction. We returned fire with tenacity. And we returned fire knowing the security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depended on the success of men and women wearing the uniform."

According to the secretary, America's report card for the war on terrorism contains the following:

-- The construction and maintenance of a coalition of 90 nations, with 18 countries engaged in Afghanistan.

-- Al-Qaida is on the run around the world.

-- The Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan.

-- Afghanistan is no longer a base for global terrorist operations.

-- Beatings by religious police and public executions have stopped.

-- The subjugation of women and little girls in Afghanistan is over.

-- More than 2.5 million humanitarian rations have been delivered.

-- International aid workers are no longer held hostage.

"We fought and won the first phase of this campaign as a joint team," Roche said. "Every man and woman, military and civilian, active, Guard and Reservist, can be proud of the substantial Air Force contribution to those successes. And the effort continues.

"Ultimately, we will prevail in this conflict," he said. "The character of the American people, and our willingness to bear any burden in the name of liberty, will not allow an outcome to the contrary. Our commitment to see this fight through to the finish will be the measure of our legacy."