Well done, soldiers: Four-star general salutes U.S. troops


Monday, December 31st 2007, 4:00 AM

I have just returned from a holiday visit to our soldiers serving around the globe. I can report that everywhere I visited - Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq - the men and women of your all-volunteer Army are performing magnificently. I am proud of their courage, their competence and their commitment both to the ideals that make this country great and to making a difference in our world.

It is useful to remember why they are deployed. We have been at war for more than six years - a war against a global terrorist network that is fixed on destroying our way of life. They attacked us. This foe will not go away nor will it give up easily. We are engaged in a long war, and the stakes are high. Our soldiers are deployed to defeat our enemies before they can attack us at home.

During this war, so far the third longest in our history, the men and women of your Army have demonstrated valor, endured countless hardships, and made great sacrifices. We have lost more than 3,000 from our ranks, with many more wounded. The awards they have earned only begin to reflect their accomplishments and their tremendous bravery on the battlefield.

Our warriors and their families have borne the stress and burden of war for us; they have done the hard work, and their sacrifices should not go unnoticed. Their efforts continue to make our way of life possible, and they deserve our nation's thanks.

In every generation, when faced with difficult challenges, Americans have risen to the occasion. They have answered our nation's call to service without the benefit of knowing where the path might lead. Today, we have over 2.3 million men and women in uniform, less than 1% of our population. The willingness of our volunteers to sacrifice to preserve our way of life and build a better future for others remains this nation's greatest strength.

I could not be more proud to be a soldier today, standing shoulder to shoulder with these incredible men and women and their families. They are the strength of our Army and, together with their comrades-in-arms from the other services, they are the strength of this nation.

They deserve our thanks and our support for their dedication and for choosing a most noble work: protecting our nation and enabling others to live free.

May God bless and keep them and their families throughout 2008.

Casey is chief of staff of the United States Army.

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