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"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."

-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

America Supports You: Thousands of Americans Send Thanks to Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2008 – Since 6 a.m. Nov. 17, more than 114,000 Americans have paused to text a message of gratitude to the nation’s servicemembers for their sacrifices through the “Giving Thanks” text messaging program.

“It already feels like a terrific, successful campaign, because from the thousands and thousands of messages that have come in already, we’re seeing that the American people really just want a chance to say ‘Thanks,’” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison, of the America Supports You initiative.

America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

Major mobile wireless providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile, will provide access to the Giving Thanks program. And, while carriers' regular text messaging rates apply to every message sent through the Defense Department program, there are no additional costs to send a message of thanks.

The “Giving Thanks” text messaging initiative, which officially began at 6 a.m. Nov. 17, and ends at midnight PST, Nov. 22, already has received more than 114,000 messages of thanks, according to the tally board on the America Supports You Web site.

“I think we got off to a great start,” Barber said, adding that she thinks the desire to thank the troops will spread throughout the public in the coming days. “What you’ll see over the next several days is that more and more people will be looking at how to let Americans know how to text message and thank our troops.”

That phenomenon began over the weekend with talk of the “Giving Thanks” program at sporting events, on nationwide radio programs and even a Sunday news show. Tim Russert, host of “Meet the Press” encouraged his viewers to text their support to the troops during yesterday’s program.

“During this week of Thanksgiving, let our troops know we’re thinking about them through the Pentagon’s America Supports You program,” Russert said. “You can send your message of thanks by texting to 89279.”

All of the messages received express the sender’s gratitude for the military and the sacrifices the servicemembers are making. Some messages are longer, others are much shorter but just as powerful, like the one from a supporter in Pennsylvania who wrote, “You are heroes of the heart.”

Each message like the one from Pennsylvania will receive a response thanking the sender for thinking of the troops this holiday season.

In response to the public outpouring of support, servicemembers have sent in statements of gratitude as well. Most, like the one from Rick, a Marine master sergeant stationed in Iraq, carry the same sentiment; the troops are glad to know they still have support back home.

Rick wrote, “I’d like to thank everyone back home for their continued show of support for those of us deployed around the world. It means a lot knowing that we’re not alone over here in Iraq.”

Barber said her goal is to give everyone in the country who has the ability to send text messages the opportunity to send in a message like the supporter from Pennsylvania.

“That’s a pretty big goal,” she said. “If we can find and maximize every opportunity to invite people to text our troops, and to have them invite their friends (to do the same), that’ll be success for us.”

Allison Barber
Related Sites:

America Supports You
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Chairman Still Motivated, Inspired by Troops

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

CHICAGO, May 2008 – What keeps a military man like Marine Gen. Peter Pace, motivated? For the Vietnam veteran with nearly 40 years service who now serves as the military’s highest-ranking officer, the answer to such a question is simple: talking to the troops.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Dr. Edward Snyder, dean of the Chicago Graduate School of Business, introduces Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the keynote speaker at the University of Chicago School of Business’ 55th annual management conference in Chicago, May 18. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF  

“Serving the nation’s men and women in uniform is not a burden; it’s an honor, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to do it,” Pace told about 1,000 students and alumni here today attending the 55th annual management conference of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Following his speech on leadership, Pace answered questions from the audience. He talked about how he keeps his balance, his mentors, ways the public can support the troops and how he makes himself available to the American people.

Since being commissioned in June 1967 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Pace has served at every level of military command. In September 2005, he became the first Marine to be appointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this position, he serves as the principal military advisor to the president, the defense secretary and the National Security Council.

Asked how he balances the daily pressures of his duties in Washington, Pace said he turns to two pictures under the glass on his desk.

One is of Marine Lance Cpl. Guido Farinaro, who died in Vietnam in July 1968 while following the orders of 2nd Lt. Peter Pace. The other is Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin, declared missing after an April 9, 2004, convoy attack near Baghdad, who up until last week, was the only unaccounted-for soldier in Iraq. Three other soldiers have been missing since a May 12 ambush.

“I keep my balance by remembering my responsibilities,” he said. “We work with some incredible young men and women. If I ever start feeling down for any reason, all I’ve got to do is get up from behind my desk, walk out into the corridor, stop the first person walking by and just talk to him, and that boosts me incredibly.”

Asked who his mentors have been, Pace replied that there have been many, so he would only name a few. The first he chose to mention were the young men like Farinaro who served under him in combat and died.

“It is their sacrifice for this country that has kept me on active duty,” he said. “When I question how I serve or whether I should serve, the memory of what I owe them is very strong in what I decide to do next.”

Pace said a Marine captain named Chuck Meadows taught him to make decisions. He also noted that he’d worked for former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer when Reimer was a two-star general in Korea.

“He invested his leadership time in helping me understand my potential,” Pace said. “Every chance he has had a chance to say something nice about me, to be supportive of me, to point people in my direction, he has done.”

Pace said he tries to give back in return the help and guidance he’s been given by Meadows, Reimer and others to the young people coming up in the military today.

When a woman asked how people could best support the troops, Pace replied, “You just did.”

“Whenever I travel to see the troops,” he explained, “they ask, ‘Are the American people still with us?’ Not, ‘What do the people think about the war we’re in?’ But, ‘Do they still value our service as military men and women?’

“And it’s questions like (yours) and other comments of support that I’ve gotten here so far today, that allows me to tell them, ‘Absolutely.’”

There are many ways to show support for the troops, he added. When people thank troops they see at the airports, it resonates. When people send packages, when school children send notes and letters, that word gets out.

For specific ways to show support, he told the audience to go to, a Defense Department Web site that lists home-front groups that help support the troops. In Chicago, for example, he said, people can help the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, which gives the children of fallen servicemembers scholarships.

“Thank you for asking that question,” Pace told the woman. “Retention and recruiting in the armed forces right now is solid, but it is fragile.” He said the troops believe in the mission they’ve got, and “they believe the American people appreciate their service even if they don’t agree on the specifics of the conflict.”

When one member of the audience asked Pace if he wouldn’t be better off back in Washington dealing with the war than here talking with business leaders, the slightly stunned audience broke out in chatter. But the chairman wasn’t taken aback.

“I’ve already learned a couple of things today that, had I not come here, I would not know,” he replied.

Prior to giving his speech, he noted that he’d met first with a small group of military veterans now associated with the school and then with a group of student leaders. In both of those forums, he said, he had question-and-answer periods that helped him better understand some issues.

“Each of us have to divide our time in ways that we feel are beneficial,” Pace said. “I need to determine how best to spend my time, to include how much of my time I should make myself available to the citizens of the United States to be able to ask me their questions in forums like this outside of Washington, D.C.

“For me, this is time well spent, because I am learning and I’m also making myself available to the American people, as I believe our senior leadership should do,” he concluded.

Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

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Military Transformation Requires Cultural Change

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20068 To be sure, the Defense Department's transformation initiative is about improving military technology, mobility, lethality and speed to meet the 21st century's asymmetrical threats. But it is a cultural transformation as well.

"Transformation is really about cultural changes as much as anything else," said Thomas Hone, the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation assistant director for risk management, in a June 6 interview. "It means a change in people to maximize their potential."

Changing the way people think about their work will yield better results, he added.

Transformation is a continuing process that does not have an end point. The evolution of concepts, processes, organizations and technology are all part of transformation. Change in any one of these areas necessitates change in all, military officials said.

Hone said that when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived for his second tour as Pentagon chief in 2001, he was on the vanguard of military transformation.

"He had an intuition," Hone said of Rumsfeld. "And I think the intuition was correct. That intuition was that people could do things very different and the results would be dramatic."

Because transformation represents a shift in fundamental and long-held conventions, it has not been welcome by everyone.

In his commencement speech May 31 at the Air Force Academy, Rumsfeld reiterated that the U.S. must continue to transform and streamline its military forces to meet future challenges. He then pointed out that some people will always be resistant to change and urged the airmen to challenge inherited assumptions and seek out better approaches.

"I urge you to make that the bedrock of your careers," Rumsfeld said during his graduation remarks.

Hone credits the former director of the Office of Force Transformation, retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, who died in November, for having the broad vision for force transformation. "One of the things that struck him over his long and very successful military career was the way in which war itself was changing," Hone said.

For instance, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cebrowski was intrigued by the Revolution in Military Affairs, a theory about the future of warfare. During this time period, the ability to get information on enemy positions became so absolute that large amounts of ordnance were no longer needed to destroy a target.

"Information can displace firepower," Hone said. "You don't need so much firepower, because you know where the target is and you can hit it with precision munitions. You find a target and then you attack it. You'd do all of this in a matter of minutes instead of in a matter of hours or days."

Hone said transformed concepts and technologies have already been put to good use in Iraq. Joint close-air support is provided to ground troops around the clock and in all weather conditions. "Technology and organization makes this possible," he said.

The quick toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 is another example of transformation at work. "A relatively small military knocking over the Army of Iraq and removing the regime there from power," Hone said. "That was done with just a little more than 130,000 troops. That's not very much when you're talking about a country of 26 million (people)."

He also stressed the positive impact transformation will have on the U.S. Army as it moves toward brigades that are designed to be highly mobile, self-sufficient and interchangeable.

"You will be able to pull one out and put another in its place," Hone said. "(It's) as though you were pulling a brick out of a wall and putting another back in."

Had the U.S. military had current capabilities during World War II, it could have ended the war in Europe in the fall of 1944 instead of the spring of 1945, Hone said.

"If you could go back to the spring of 1944 and tell General (George S.) Patton that 'We can offer you day-and-night, all-weather, precision bombing. We can offer you coordination between ground and air. We can offer you all the logistics you need when you need it. We'll anticipate what you'll need so it will show up on time. We will offer you combat replacements, so that as soldiers get tired they get replaced by other soldiers who understand the situation.' If you had gone to him and said all that in April 1944, he'd have grabbed every piece of it and the war in Europe would have been over in October 1944," Hone said.

This wish list of hypothetical offerings to Patton is now becoming a reality, he said.

"And that's what we're talking about now," Hone said. "We're talking about getting real intelligence on the enemy in real time. We're talking about making sure that everybody at every level has a shared operating picture."

Related Site:
DoD Transformation

Nation to Honor Fallen During National Moment of Remembrance

By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May  2008 On May 29, Americans will pause together to remember servicemembers from wars past and present who have given the ultimate sacrifice while defending the nation.

The National Moment of Remembrance takes place for one minute each year on Memorial Day, starting at 3 p.m., local time.

"The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday," according to a news release from the White House Commission on Remembrance. "The moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom."

Observing the moment can be as simple as ringing a bell three times or pausing for a moment of silence, the news release said. Americans are encouraged to ask others to remember, including family, friends and co-workers.

Established by Congress in December 2000, the White House Commission on Remembrance encourages Americans to remember the sacrifices of its fallen military members, as well as the families they leave behind. According to its mission statement, the commission "promotes acts of remembrance throughout the year and asks Americans to pay our debt of gratitude in memory of our fallen by giving something back to the nation."

The idea for the program came in May 1996 when the commission's director, Carmella LaSpada, asked children touring the nation's capital what Memorial Day meant to them. "That's the day the pool opens," they said.

Providing a sense of history to America's citizens and ensuring younger generations remember the sacrifices made to preserve their freedom is a major goal, the news release said.

In addition to the National Moment of Remembrance, the commission has promoted other programs. In June 2004, the commission sponsored a "historically accurate" sand sculpture on Normandy Beach, France, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, according to its Web site. Sand sculptors worked for six days, making a 30-foot by 30-foot sculpture of allied troops storming the beach.

The commission employs cartoonists to create new, limited-edition cartoons for a calendar each year. It also partners with Dear Abby to send messages of support to the nation's troops.

Related Sites:
White House Commission on Remembrance
Operation Dear Abby

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.Bush to realign overseas troops

    Bush said the plan, the most comprehensive U.S. troop shift since the end of the Cold War, would make U.S. forces quicker to respond to threats in the war on terrorism. As many as 70,000 troops and 100,000 family members and civilian workers would return from bases in Europe and Asia.

    "The world has changed a great deal, and our posture must change with it," Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "for the sake of our military families, for the sake of our taxpayers and so we can be more effective in projecting our strength and spreading freedom."

     The global realignment includes plans to close some unspecified bases and use others in Eastern Europe as transit points to send forces quickly from the United States to trouble spots.

     The president's announcement, coming amid Republican criticism of Democrat John Kerry's fitness to be commander in chief, also served a political purpose, particularly given that the VFW's 105th annual convention took place in a hotly contested state. Kerry addresses the VFW on Wednesday.

     Bush has been making regular campaign appearances that emphasize his credentials as commander in chief and leader of the war on terrorism. A week ago, Bush nominated Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., to head the CIA. On Aug. 2, he endorsed some of the recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

     Retired Army general Wesley Clark, a Kerry supporter who once headed NATO forces in Europe, called Bush's proposal "pure politics." He called it "a slap in the face of the Europeans" and "more unilateralism on the part of the administration."

     Bush said the troop realignment would alleviate some hardships that servicemembers suffer from frequent transfers and time away from families.

     Kerry and his aides have criticized the administration for what they see as over reliance on National Guard and reserve troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where many are on extended tours that have created problems for families.

     "Our servicemembers will have more time on the home front and more predictability more time for their kids and to spend time with their families at home," Bush said.

     The plan, to be implemented over 10 years, would not affect the 172,500 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     Bush dismissed Kerry's pledge to bring an unspecified number of troops home from Iraq in his first six months in office. Bush said it "sends the wrong signal to the enemy, who can easily wait six months and one day. Sends the wrong message to our troops, that completing the mission may not be necessary. Sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people, who wonder whether America means what it says."

     The Kerry camp says Bush is mischaracterizing the pledge by leaving out Kerry's conditions.

     The realignment plan would affect many of the 200,000 U.S. troops abroad. About half are in Europe, including 70,000 in Germany. The Pentagon told German officials this year that it was thinking about replacing two Army divisions there with smaller, more mobile units. Sophisticated weaponry would be sent to some bases to make up for troop reductions.

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