|Vice President Visits Air Force Troops in Middle Eas|
Vice President Visits Air Force Troops in Middle East
Operation Enduring Freedoom -- (AFPN) March 17, 2002 -- In his first stop to an Operation Enduring Freedom base in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney visited the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing on March 17.
Vice President Dick Cheney greets people during a visit to an Operation Enduring Freedom base in the Middle East on March 17.
Photo by Senior Airman Danielle Upton
As part of his 10-day, 12-nation tour of the region, the vice president addressed service members on the vital role they are playing in the war on terrorism and the great humanitarian assistance they are providing to the Afghan people.
"These are testing times for the U.S. and, in such a time, we are especially grateful for our military," Cheney said. "You are here fighting for the defense of our country, and the forces of freedom will defeat the forces of terror.
"During Operation Enduring Freedom, and most recently Operation Anaconda, U.S. forces have encountered dangers and will encounter many more, but in the last five months, the al-Qaida and Taliban have gotten a good dose of American airpower. Missions from this location have made all the difference in Enduring Freedom and Anoconda."
Cheney’s entourage, which included the White House’s top counterterrorism official, and his wife, Lynne, received a rousing applause from the large contingent of troops upon entering the American compound known as Camp Andy, a temporary living and working area of nearly 200 heavy-duty, tan-colored tents first set up in September. The camp is named after Air Force Master Sgt. Evander Earl "Andy" Andrews, the first U.S. casualty of Enduring Freedom who died here Oct. 10 as a result of a heavy-equipment accident.
The vice president then thanked the airmen for their efforts in the war against terrorism and continuously emphasizing the long-term commitment of the United States and other allied nations.
"Afghanistan is only the beginning of a long effort," Cheney said. "The war will end when no terrorist group is allowed to threaten any nation. We will assist governments in fighting terrorist cells wherever they form. We will respond decisively and we will prevail.
"You’re here because you believe in America. I’m here to tell you, America believes in you."
During his visit, Cheney spoke one-on-one with several wing members, including Lt. Col. "D Dawg," commander of the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the South Carolina Air National Guard. "D Dawg," a decorated combat pilot as well as an American Airlines captain in his civilian life, gave the vice president a quick tour of his unit’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, which are flying daily missions over Afghanistan.
The 157th EFS is a prime example of the Air Force’s total force commitment of active-duty, Reserve and Air Guard forces involved in the Enduring Freedom campaign. Notable is the fact that the guard unit, which has eight fighter pilots here who fly for major airlines, also plays a key role in U.S. homeland defense. Pilots from this unit were flying combat air patrols over Atlanta just four hours after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.
The 366th AEW serves as one of the largest Air Force wings in the region with a number of support and operational functions. Aircraft supported by the wing include KC-10 Extenders, KC-135 Stratotankers, E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft and F-16s.