Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the hero of the Gulf War, addressed the Republican National Convention from the deck of the USS New Jersey. Read a transcript of his remarks here.
Gen Norman Schwarzkopf:
As I stand here on the deck of this great battleship New Jersey that made so much history and witnessed so much heroism in its day — surrounded by these proud veterans of American wars in far-flung times and places — I am again reminded of what a great nation we are.
As young West Point cadets, our motto was “duty, honor, country.” But it was in the field, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to the sands of the Middle East, that I learned that motto’s fullest meaning. There I saw gallant young Americans of every race, creed and background fight, and sometimes die, for “duty, honor, and their country.”
I have seen a lot in the 44 years since I received my first commission as a second lieutenant. I have plenty of memories. But, tonight, in this patriotic setting, one of them especially stands out in my mind.
Exactly 10 years ago tomorrow Iraq invaded Kuwait. Our commander in chief, President George Bush, declared to the world that we would “not let this aggression stand.” We drew a line in the sand and told Iraq to either withdraw its troops or get kicked out.
Despite opposition from many in his own Congress, the President almost single-handedly forged a coalition of 40 nations that led to a great victory with minimum casualties.
Just as importantly, he restored the American people’s confidence in their armed forces and made all of us proud to be Americans.
We should never forget the heroic dedication of the 540,000 American fighting men and women who won that magnificent victory in the sand. They were both active duty and reservists who willingly answered the call to duty that disrupted their lives, took them away from family and jobs and put them in harm’s way.
Once again they reminded us all that freedom is not cost free. It is bought and paid for with the blood and guts and limbs and lives of veterans just like these around me.
And we must not forget that our liberty is protected every day by soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen. Without them, there would be no liberty. So if American forces are called into action again, we must make sure that they go into battle as well-equipped, well-trained and highly motivated as the men and women of Desert Storm.
Unfortunately, that may not be the case today. As of 1999, the number of fighting army divisions ready for war had shrunk to less than half of what they were before Desert Storm. The navy’s battle force in the last eight years has been cut by one third. And, the air force reports that it is now called on to mount four times as many operations with a force that has been cut by forty percent. Meanwhile, service enlistment targets fell short again this past year, there are re-enlistment problems as well, and 6,300 military families are now eligible for food stamps.
We can do better for the great men and women who defend our country today — and we owe it to them and those who served before them whom we honor tonight.
Knowing this and recalling back to Operation Desert Storm, I can’t help asking myself: wouldn’t it be great for our armed forces and for America if we could have another commander in chief named George Bush with Dick Cheney on his team?
From the battleship New Jersey, with some of America’s heroes, thank you and God bless America.