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Biden: Bragg troops gave Iraq 'fighting chance'

Posted April 8, 2009

— Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, visited Fort Bragg Wednesday to welcome the XVIII Airborne Corps on its return from Iraq.

The corps spent the last 15 months in charge of the Multi-National Force in Iraq. It completed that work on Saturday and passed along the command to I Corps of Fort Lewis, Wash.

Biden at Bragg Biden welcomes Bragg troops back from Iraq

About 900 soldiers have returned to Fort Bragg over the past two weeks, and XVIII Airborne Corps commander Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin returned on Sunday.

Biden, whose son, Beau, is serving in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, credited the Fort Bragg troops with improving the security of the war-torn country during their deployment.

"Today, Iraq is experiencing the lowest levels of violence since the beginning of the war," he told about 1,500 troops gathered on the parade ground on post. "Iraq has a tremendous opportunity to achieve its potential because of the efforts of the 18th Airborne Corps.

The vice president pointed to Iraq's provincial elections in January, in which 11 attacks were reported across the country. During the last elections, in 2005, 300 attacks occurred, he said.

"You went in the midst of what was an uncertain future for Iraq, (and) you left behind a country in which violence is being replaced by progress," he said. "You gave the Iraqis a chance – a fighting chance – to reclaim their country and establish a stable government for the first time in God knows how long."

Biden also thanked the troops and their families for the sacrifices they have made during repeated deployments in recent years.

"A 15-month deployment,  to most Americans, that's a lifetime," he said. "So many people – good, decent Americans – don't have any idea of the depth of the sacrifice your families make."

Still, he stressed that, while the U.S. is shifting security duties in Iraq to Iraqi soldiers, Fort Bragg troops would continue to be counted on to fight the war in Afghanistan.

"There's more work to be done, which means there are more people who are going to be separated from their families. We're going to ask more of those of you who wear the uniform," he said.

During the ceremony, Biden presented awards to several soldiers, including six Bronze Stars – the Army's fourth-highest combat medal – and a meritorious service award for a chaplain.

"It says a lot to me that the vice president would come down and speak with soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey West, one of the Bronze Star recipients.

The visit marked the second time in a week that the vice president has appeared in North Carolina. Last Wednesday, he stopped in Faison and Pikeville to tout the $787 billion federal stimulus package and its impact on rural communities.


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  • jet2rdu Apr 9, 2009

    Its great for VP Biden to support our returning troops. I notice he did not mention in his speech the 10 percent defense funding cut being pushed by President Obama. Joe is in effect saluting our brave soldiers with one hand and picking their pockets with the other.

  • areyououtofyourmind Apr 9, 2009

    I think it is revealing that Biden stumbled through his analysis of the situation in Iraq. "You have given them a chance - (Oh snap, my leader said that's too weak... now what?) - a FIGHTING chance (phew, no one should notice that) - to reclaim their country since I don't know when (Really folks, I don't know. Have they ever controlled their country?)"

    Too funny. Listen, if they only have a chance, meaning the outcome is uncertain, then we should not be leaving. He should have said, "You have given them the ability..."

  • carols0289 Apr 8, 2009

    What is up with the obsession with Fort Bragg and the WH? Obama, Michelle and now Biden. Every time they step foot in this state I have to shower for 2 hours because I feel so dirty!

  • cubed32696 Apr 8, 2009

    Troops serving abroad have given nearly six times as much money to Obama's presidential campaign as they have to McCain's, the Center for Responsive Politics said.

    The results also are striking because they favored Obama, who never has served in the military. McCain meanwhile, is a decorated war veteran who spent nearly five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

    McCain response to report: John McCain has been endorsed by more retired admirals and generals than Barack Obama has military donors," spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

    That may be true, but it reinforces the unhelpful division between the top brass and the enlisted man; the implication here is that while Obama might have the grunts, McCain owns the support of the really important people. Is that the message he wants to communicate to the men and women of the Armed Forces?


  • wildervb Apr 8, 2009

    "In fact, most troops you will talk to are openly hostile towards Obama. Bill Clinton wasn't exactly popular with the troops... but I never saw them so fired up in opposition to the man.

    Don't take my word for it. Go visit some military related message boards and see how many friendly things you hear about Obama."

    That pretty bad stuff you're saying their Worland, hard to believe that a majority of soldiers would be so disloyal to their commander. I'm sure you, as a patriotic American, do all you can to stop the hatred.

  • Quagmire Apr 8, 2009

    Well, there it is. All the proof anyone needs.

    This is the Internet. It is anonymous. Anyone can pose as a war hero while working at the comic book store. Thats what makes it so entertainng.

  • imback Apr 8, 2009

    'I work with lifelong GOP military retirees that voted for Obama."

    Well, there it is. All the proof anyone needs.

  • Quagmire Apr 8, 2009

    mmmm...yes, I would say you are!!

    Trust me JFK was a Democrat. I wonder if there would be room in today's GOP for Eisenhower. Seeing how Colin Powell was slandered by the Goopers I think not.

  • Quagmire Apr 8, 2009

    Don't take my word for it. Go visit some military related message boards and see how many friendly things you hear about Obama.

    Delusional. Probably some of the same guys on those boards that post here. I work with lifelong GOP military retirees that voted for Obama.

  • GWALLY Apr 8, 2009

    ..."I am confused GWALLY. Are you trying to say that John F Kennedy was NOT a democrat? rescuefan"

    Hmmmm...yes, I would say you are!!