Officials Note Sacrifices, Resilience Prompted by 9/11

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2011 — �In pub­lic appear­ances tonight and this week­end com­mem­o­rat­ing the 10th anniver­sary of the 2001 ter­ror­ist attacks on the Unit­ed States, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta will pay trib­ute to all who have made sac­ri­fices since 9/11, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

Lit­tle, who briefed reporters here along with Joint Staff spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by, said Panet­ta will empha­size three key points.

“First, we must remem­ber those who were killed and injured in New York, Shanksville and here at the Pen­ta­gon, where even on the day of the attacks the resolve to con­front our ter­ror­ist ene­mies did not waiv­er,” Lit­tle said.

The sec­re­tary will also will stress how grate­ful the Amer­i­can peo­ple are, Lit­tle added, for the ser­vice of mil­lions of sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines who have deployed over­seas over the past decade.

“Third, there’s absolute­ly no doubt that for the past 10 years Amer­i­ca has shown its pro­found resilience,” the press sec­re­tary said. “That’s part of the Amer­i­can char­ac­ter and is one of many rea­sons why the sec­re­tary believes Amer­i­ca is a spe­cial place and a leader in the world.”

As the 10th anniver­sary of 9/11 approach­es, Lit­tle added, the Unit­ed States remains a nation at war.

“I hope we all keep in mind how very much the last 10 years have affect­ed and been affect­ed by the U.S. mil­i­tary,” Kir­by said.

Some two mil­lion Amer­i­can men and women have deployed in uni­form to fight ter­ror­ism and secure our nation­al inter­ests, the cap­tain said.

“More than 6,200 have come home to [the mor­tu­ary at] Dover Air Force Base. Near­ly 46,000 have come home with Pur­ple Hearts. Count­less oth­ers still strug­gle with the invis­i­ble wounds of war,” Kir­by added.

“And we ought to remem­ber today,” the cap­tain said, “that 200,000 of them are still out there, for­ward deployed around the world, doing what they have been trained to do and — if I may take the lib­er­ty of speak­ing for them — what they love to do.”

On the anniver­sary of the attacks, Kir­by said, “Amer­i­cans can take pride in the readi­ness of their armed forces. Our allies and part­ners can take com­fort in it. And our ene­mies should con­tin­ue to take cau­tion in it.”

In Afghanistan, troops con­tin­ue to take the fight to the ene­my and are mak­ing progress, Lit­tle said.

In Iraq, the Unit­ed States is draw­ing down com­bat forces and is in ear­ly stage talks with the Iraqi gov­ern­ment about whether U.S. troops will stay on in some capac­i­ty after Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Dec. 31 dead­line for troop with­draw­al.

The State Depart­ment is lead­ing the dis­cus­sions, Lit­tle said, and a num­ber of depart­ments, agen­cies and ele­ments of the U.S. gov­ern­ment are involved in the process.

“At the base lev­el,” Kir­by said, “it’s a dis­cus­sion about mis­sion, capa­bil­i­ties and what gaps the Iraqis may believe they have and what we may be able to do to assist them in clos­ing those gaps.”

The Iraqis “under­stand what the time­line is, and we under­stand what the time­line is,” Lit­tle said.

The Amer­i­can peo­ple should rest assured, he added, “that we’re doing every­thing we pos­si­bly can to reach an agree­ment with Iraq — not just in terms of troop pres­ence for pos­si­bly extend­ing beyond 2011, but also about the strate­gic rela­tion­ship going for­ward.”

As part of its ongo­ing response to 9/11, the Unit­ed States, Lit­tle said, is “relent­less­ly pur­su­ing al-Qai­da and its mil­i­tant allies” in the bor­der­lands between Afghanistan and Pak­istan, in Yemen, in Soma­lia, in North Africa and else­where.

Today, he added, “Al-Qai­da in Pak­istan has come under unprece­dent­ed pres­sure. Aggres­sive coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions have tak­en out some of their top lead­ers, to include Osama bin Laden. They con­tin­ue to plan against us, but we are on their heels.”

The insur­gents remain dan­ger­ous, the press sec­re­tary said, “but they’ve had a tougher time of it recent­ly … because of strong col­lab­o­ra­tion inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment [with] mil­i­tary, intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and law enforce­ment agen­cies work­ing close­ly togeth­er” and shar­ing infor­ma­tion.

Struc­tures have been put in place since 9/11, he said, “that enable us to make our nation safer. There are no guar­an­tees, so we have to keep the pres­sure up, and that’s exact­ly what we intend to do as a gov­ern­ment.”

In Pak­istan, where the Pak­istani mil­i­tary recent­ly cap­tured senior al-Qai­da leader You­nis al-Mau­ri­ta­nia, Lit­tle said, there is progress in the com­pli­cat­ed but essen­tial rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and that nation.

“We have both been the vic­tims of al-Qai­da and oth­er ter­ror­ist groups,” Lit­tle said, “and it’s a com­mon fight against a com­mon set of ene­mies.”

In Libya, where the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to sup­port NATO’s Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor.

NATO began the oper­a­tion on March 31 with the aim of pro­tect­ing civil­ians and civil­ian-pop­u­lat­ed areas under attack or threat of attack by Libyan leader Moam­mar Ghadafi’s mil­i­tary.

Accord­ing to NATO, the mis­sion con­sists of an arms embar­go, a no-fly zone and actions to pro­tect civil­ians.

“This oper­a­tion has shown the pow­er of inter­na­tion­al part­ner­ship and I think by any mea­sure at this point it’s been a suc­cess,” Lit­tle said.

“The no-fly zone, the civil­ian pro­tec­tion mis­sion [and] the coop­er­a­tion between the Unit­ed States and our NATO part­ners,” he added, “has been crit­i­cal to the suc­cess we’ve seen”.

Gad­hafi loy­al­ists are still fight­ing, Lit­tle said, but the momen­tum “has clear­ly turned to anti-Gad­hafi forces and to the [Libyan Nation­al Tran­si­tion­al Coun­cil] and it’s a mat­ter of time now … before Gad­hafi goes.”

The NATO mis­sion, Kir­by said, “is about help­ing take away [Gadhafi’s] abil­i­ty to fur­ther vio­lence on his own peo­ple. It’s not about him per­son­al­ly or him as the com­man­der or com­man­der in chief of his forces … This is real­ly about pro­tect­ing peo­ple from the regime itself, and we con­tin­ue to do that.”

All these suc­cess­ful efforts, Lit­tle said, have grown from unprece­dent­ed coop­er­a­tion among the mil­i­tary, intel­li­gence and law enforce­ment com­mu­ni­ties since the attacks in 2001.

“In these and oth­er areas through­out the world, we hon­or those who are serv­ing and who have served,” Lit­tle said. “They have shown extra­or­di­nary courage, cease­less deter­mi­na­tion and bound­less patri­o­tism.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)