Thursday, September 11, 2008

US Ambassador to Canada: On 9/11

Winning a long war

David H. Wilkins,

National Post Published: Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago on a crystal clear autumn morning, Americans' illusion of their safety and security were shattered into a million smoldering pieces. And all of us -- Americans and Canadians -- began living in a post 9/11 world.

In the immediate wake of the horrific terror attack, so many of us made a silent pact: "We Will Never Forget." The sacred vow was committed to bumper stickers and T-shirts, a promise to the 3,000 victims and the heroes alike that they had not died in vain, that the United States would never again be vulnerable and, yes, that mass murderers would know justice.

For the families and loved ones of those lost and all the rescue workers who saved that day, I imagine the grief remains ever-present. They stay in our thoughts and prayers.
But for the rest of us, time is both a gracious healer and, sometimes, an easy excuse to put aside what was unpleasant and downright terrifying. This is dangerous. We cannot afford to forget the lessons born in great tragedy because history can and often does repeat itself.

There can be no doubt of the tremendous strides we have made in the war on terror these last seven years. Since President George W. Bush promised to make it the focus of his presidency to thwart terror and protect the American homeland, he has been true to his word: We have seen no successful domestic attacks.

But success does not make a good news story. So the same media outlets that day after day brought us the worst news from the front lines, neglect to tell us the empowering news that freedom is on the march and al-Qaeda badly diminished.

Thanks to the surge and our heroic troops, Iraq is well on its way to a sustained democracy. Even the most vociferous opponents of the surge are now forced to admit the success of the surge strategy.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States and our allies around the world, including Canada, have prevented numerous acts of grave terror on the scale of 9/11 or worse, saving untold lives thanks to smart law enforcement and intelligence sharing. The verdict in the U. K. earlier this week convicting the three ringleaders of a terror plot that targeted Canadian air routes is yet more proof that working together, we can defeat those who would harm us.

And while the road to ending terror in Afghanistan began with enormous success in routing the Taliban, serious challenges remain. The enemy is fierce and desperate to reinstate a stranglehold on Afghanistan. America continues its commitment to freedom for the Afghan people and Canadian heroes have been instrumental in this fight as NATO partners there. We will never forget that on America's darkest day, our Canadian friends opened their hearts and their homes to thousands of stranded airline passengers, offering a safe respite during a frightening time.

In his proclamation declaring Sept. 11, 2008 "Patriot Day," President Bush said, "We must not allow our resolve to be weakened by the passage of time. We will meet the test that history has given us and continue to fight and rid the world of terrorism and promote liberty around the world."

The victims and the heroes of 9/11 remind us that the enemy is ruthless and freedom's cause ever just. We cannot afford to let our success make us complacent, or worse, convince us the threat is gone. Terrorists need but one opportunity to shatter another beautiful day, and with it, untold lives.

- David H. Wilkins is U. S. ambassador to Canada.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Americans send 800 Troops to help Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

The plan to have American combat Soldiers deploy with 1000 Canadian combat troops has been in the works for months and has finally officially seen the light of day. About 800 American troops will be helping Canadian forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents in Kandahar province, military officials announced Saturday. This will increase allied fighting troops in the area to 1,800.

The new troops, better known as the Ramrods or the 2-2's come from the 2nd Infantry Battalion, based at Fort Hood, Texas, arrived in Kandahar in early July and are setting up a base in Maywand district, which is northwest of Kandahar city and borders on Helmand province wher the British and the Marines are fighting the Taliban.

U.S. Lt.-Col. Dan Hurlbut commanding, said the Americans have been scoping out the area for a few weeks. Maywand is considered a dangerous place, overrun by the Taliban, and NATO troops haven't spent much time in the area.

"Our initial impression is there are some folks who are happy to see us. There are other folks who are probably reluctant, at best, because of the Taliban presence that's been there for so long," Hurlbut said.

The Americans will come under the command of Canadian Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, who said the U.S. battalion's mission is to disrupt the flow of Taliban money and weapons in Maywand district, making it safer in areas where some of Canada's soldiers are based.

"I am confident that their presence in this district will contribute greatly to the overall security situation and will assist in the expansion of reconstruction, development and capacity building initiatives," Thompson said.