Dec. 17, 2008 - President George W. Bush gave the Army War College students a unique opportunity to hear his thoughts on strategic leadership and national security as he thanked them for "the honor of a lifetime: to serve as your Commander in Chief."

Bush spoke to an audience of 500: the U.S. military officers, senior federal civilians and international officers who comprise the Army War College Class of 2009, as well as teaching faculty and several spouses of deployed Soldiers, Dec. 17, at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

"In institutions like the Army War College our men and women in uniform are studying new counterinsurgency and counterterrorism strategies because we're going to depend on you. Long after I'm gone, presidents will count on you. We will leave behind a strong coalition of more than 90 nations, composing almost half the world who are committed to combating terrorism, sharing intelligence and keeping our citizens safe.

One of those nations is Australia, which Col. Don Roach, USAWC International Fellow, calls home.

"It was a great opportunity to hear him say thank you to those people and nations he's worked with," he said. "After listening to his remarks, I think it's quite clear why he made the decisions he did."

The president talked about the strategy to keep the country safe, the results achieved and the institutions left to carry on the struggle against terrorism in a post-9/11 world.

Bush recalled the events of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania.

"By nightfall, the sun had set on a very different world. With rumors of more attacks swirling, Americans went to bed wondering what the future would bring. On that night virtually no one would have predicted that more than seven years would pass without another terrorist attack on American soil.

"It's not a matter of luck. It's a tribute to the dedicated men and women who work day and night to defend our great land," he said to applause.

The students of the Army War College have played a major role in the war on terrorism. The majority of students have served in the military campaigns Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"In the broader struggle between freedom and terror, people around the world have made their choice clear," said Bush. "In Afghanistan, 8 million men and women went to the polls to elect a president for the first time in their history. In Iraq, 12 million people defied the terrorists and elected a representative government.

"One of things I'll never forget are the ink-stained fingers of people who had a chance to vote their conscience.

"While there's room for an honest and healthy debate about the decisions I made -- and there's plenty of debate -- there can be no debate about the results in keeping America safe," Bush said.

"You can't argue with his security success," said student Col. Steven Williamson. "He's supported the military and has been honest about the challenges ahead."

"The opportunity to hear the president speak is a testimony to the importance of senior service schools and the importance of strategic leaders," said Air Force Lt. Col. James Forand. "It was great to hear some of his reflections of the last eight years."

A private discussion with students following the formal address focused on the president's thoughts on leadership.

"The dialogue we had on his style of leadership was excellent," said student Lt. Col. Anthony Hall. "To have that kind of opportunity with the commander-in-chief was great."

"At the Army War College they educate us to take us from the tactical level to think at the strategic level and the decisions that come along with that," said Coast Guard Cdr. Joseph Hester. "This was a great opportunity to hear from someone at the top and how the national security decisions are made."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16