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Vermont Calls for Pledge not to Abandon Troops

Lawmakers Mull Resolution, Troop Supporters Organize Victory Tour

Thu April 19, 2007


MONTPELIER – Taking a strong cue from citizens across the state, House Minority Leader Steve Adams (R-Hartland) is proposing legislation to declare Vermont's support of the service men and women and to declare that the state will not abandon them in time of war.  Joint Resolution 07-1390 declares in plain language that the "General Assembly on behalf of the people of Vermont is on record that we will not abandon our servicemen and

women in this time of war and pledges full support to them and their efforts to secure victory."

 

Retired Army LTC Steve Russell testifies with Gold Star Mothers March 2nd

Adams, a Vietnam- era veteran, has already garnered support on both sides of the aisle and was against earlier state resolutions that called for a troop pull out.  Adams is also known for his staunch support of Gold Star Mothers, an organization whose members have lost a son or daughter in battle. He was instrumental in crafting previous declarations of support by Gov. Jim Douglas to serving men and women, veterans and those that have lost loved ones. The last time the Governor showed similar support was on March 2nd, when Gold Star Mothers gathered to counter accusations from anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, that their loved ones died in vain in an illegal war.  "Our freedom is often underwritten by extraordinary personal sacrifice," Governor Douglas noted.  He met with a small group of families in his office and welcomed retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, chairman of Vets for Victory, who testified before a senate committee on the war opposite of Sheehan.  The unit Russell commanded in Iraq played a central role in the hunt and capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Now, concerned citizens, veterans groups and legislators led by Adams are working to tell those serving that Vermont "will not abandon them."  The effort includes a 'Victory Tour' by Russell as he travels the state May 1st through May 6th putting forth to the public the soldier's voice on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  "I am very encouraged by the spirit of Vermonters," said Russell.  "They often get a bad rap from the rest of the country, but what I have seen is more akin to the spirit of Ethan Allen as they fight to show support for our soldiers.  It is refreshing."

 

Joint Resolution 07-1390

March 18, 2007

dr req 07-1390 - Draft 1

3/18/2007 – MJC

Joint resolution designating May 6, 2007 as Vermont Vets For Victory Day

Offered by: Representative Adams of Hartland

 

Whereas, almost two million American military men and women, active, Guard, and Reserve, are on duty around the world, and

Whereas, many of them are engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting the "War on Terror"; and

Whereas, members of the U.S. military are making considerable personal sacrifices, including long separations from their families; and

Whereas, many troops have made the supreme sacrifice; and

Whereas, the U. S. military continues to protect all Americans from avowed enemies, now therefore be it

 

Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly declares full support to our troops and their mission in conducting the War on Terror, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly on behalf of the people of Vermont is on record that we will not abandon our servicemen and women in this time of war and pledges full support to them and their efforts to secure victory, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly is proud of the sacrifices and bravery of our servicemen and women and expresses its sincere gratitude for their heroic service to the United States of America, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly designates May 6, 2007 as Vermont Vets for Victory Day, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Adjutant Michael Dubie, Governor James Douglas and the President of the United States.

                                     (Rep. Steve Adams) VT LEG 217251

v1

 

Remarks of LTC Steve Russell, US Army (Ret.) to Vermont Senate Committee

Fri March 2, 2007

 

Thank you senator for allowing me to address this assembly.  I am LTC Steve Russell, United States Army, Retired.  I served 21 years as an Infantryman.  I come to you today as a soldier that has served in Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.  In Iraq I commanded a battalion that was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein.  I didn’t drive a truck and pass out chow.  I was not an analyst in some headquarters sifting through reports.  I was a combat soldier.  I have had to kill and I have had to do it as close as you committee members are sitting to me at this table.

Let’s suppose that you and I have a friend that has a contagious and terminal condition.  We are concerned for his health and the spread of his disease.  We seek out a surgeon who tells us that while the condition is terminal, the good news is that with proper treatment and a steady regimen, he will have a 95% chance of survival.  We decide to seek other surgeons and compare their advice.  All surgeons experienced in this surgery say the same thing.  Excited, we seek aide from our friends and neighbors to conduct the life-saving surgery.  But our neighbors scoff at us and tell us that we are wasting our time.  “Just look at him,” they say, “he’s already dead.”  Who would we believe—the experts or the scoffers and neighbors with no experience in surgery?

As a veteran of Iraq, I have heard politicians and opponents of this war state that their actions to cut our troops, pull funding and portray the war as a hopeless endeavor are not meant for us but are intended to be a strong message to the president.  That is like someone coming up to you at work, slugging you in the gut and saying, “ Oh, that was not meant for you.  I like you.  That was meant for your boss.”  If this is the kind of support that some Americans want to offer us, we reject it!  We despise it!  It rubs against the grain of everything inside us as soldiers and defenders of America.

Senate Resolution # 11 makes manifold claims in laying the foundation for a call to speak out against the current and on-going operations in Iraq.  While Vermont has prided itself in its libertarian and balanced look at national issues, this resolution damages that reputation due to many inaccurate statements—from the sacrifices and causes of the war, to the probability of success.  I will be happy to discuss them in detail with any legislator after the hearing.  

Vermont does not have the highest per capita killed in service in the war in Iraq.  While Vermont’s service and sacrifice is noble and honorable in the highest sense of the word, three other territories in the United States have a higher per capita death rate.

The resolution claims that the war was begun to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.  This is not the case.  The war was authorized as a continuation of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which called for a regime change in Iraq.  It was passed by 90% of the US House and unanimous consent of the Senate—to include Vermont’s senators.  

Senate resolution # 11 also makes the claim that there was no evidence found of a WMD program.  During my service in Iraq, US soldiers captured Saddam’s most prominent nuclear scientist and found a Zippe centrifuge and evidence of all the components to produce more.  Saddam’s nuclear scientist stated that with the centrifuge technology, they could have produced a nuclear bomb and were making efforts to do so.  This is the same centrifuge technology that Iran is currently using to pursue their nuclear weapons.  I will be happy to provide further comment after the hearing for those interested.

Of particular note, the resolution claims we had no exit strategy when we went into Iraq.  This is not true.  As I recall, our mission was to destroy the Iraqi Army, Kill or capture Saddam, eliminate the Baathist government and establish the new Iraqi government by means of an elected assembly that would appoint ministers and a president, who in turn would draft the new constitution.  Operating under this legal authority, the new Iraq would create its new military and police forces and secure their own nation.  Today, all but the raising of an adequate security force has been accomplished, and this despite the steady diet of defeatism and disillusionment offered by terrorists abroad and opponents of the war here at home.

The resolution also claims that the war’s cost is untenable.  From 1961-1964 America spent 9% of the GDP on defense in a time of peace.  From 1974-1994, we spent 5.8%.  Today we spend only 3.8% in a time of war.  Even though we are spending less, Americans spent nearly twice as much on Pepsis and Fritos last year than on the Army National Guard Budget. What are Americans really sacrificing for victory that the cost is too high for them?  Can we not even give up a Pepsi?

The resolution claims it is the wrong policy to be in Iraq.  This would mean that it is wrong to have a responsible Iraq in the world community of nations.  That is was wrong to remove a dictator that killed hundreds of thousands of people.  A dictator that Presidents Clinton and Bush both publicly declared needed to be removed and both made that national policy. That long-term stability is not possible in that part of the world despite the examples of Kuwait, Jordan and Oman that resulted from Great Britain’s leadership in the last century to the benefit of all.

The resolution claims it is the wrong policy to conduct our current operations with additional troops. That our current operations are wrong to have saved over 700 Iraqi lives just in the last three weeks as violence has declined 55%.  That it is wrong to see Baghdad with two hours more power every day and 233 flights coming in and out of the Baghdad International Airport as security has improved.

The truth is, these successes have been the result of the great efforts and sacrifices of our soldiers.  Efforts rewarded with resolutions that throw them all away encouraged by defeatist comments and treasonous attacks upon recruiting stations.  

America is a great nation of 300 million souls with great capacity, great resources, and great ingenuity.  Do we honestly think then, that our nation can be held hostage by ten thousand insurgents equipped with little more than 'man-dresses' and flip-flops?

What shall we say?  What more can we give to our nation than the type of sacrifice we have already given?  What words can we the soldiers use to convince Americans at home that the biggest mistakes being made in this war are on the home front, not the battlefront?  What will be the value of temporary civilian comforts and the illusion of national safety when a giant shadow of Islamic terrorism is casting itself onto our shores?  What will be the meaning of the rhetoric and the political debate when we sift through the rubble of a workplace, a shopping mall or public transit—digging out American bodies targeted for no other reason than because of our way of life and who we are as a people?  It is a scene that every soldier who has witnessed it abroad will fight with all his might to keep away—but we never thought that our own people would betray our efforts.

Where are the ‘Committees of Safety’ today in Vermont?  Where is the spirit of Ethan Allen?  Has it been reduced to a name on a stick of furniture?  Or merely his carved words in this house chamber?  Has the patriotism of the Green Mountain Boys given way to the Green Peace Boys?  Today, our enemies hope you chose to undermine the war effort.  They expect you to, really.  And even the rest of the nation has written you off.  But Vermonters have been surrounded by long odds before.  They knew how to take a stand as soldiers and lit the light of liberty from the mountain tops for all to see.  Today, 200,000 soldiers serving abroad are asking you to stand with us as soldiers again.

Thanks for letting me address this assembly.

-------

Steve Russell, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (ret.).  The unit LTC Russell commanded was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein. Steve Russell serves as Chairman of Vets for Victory and speaks across the nation to rally the American public to support the troops with victory, not just words. For information about Vets for Victory or on how to book him for a speaking engagement or media event go to vets4victory.com.

 

 

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