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Secretary of the Navy visits Djibouti ;SECNAV states clear the need in Horn of Africa

By Sgt. Bradly Shaver | | November 28, 2003

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Secretary of the Navy, the honorable Gordon R. England, toured Camp Lemonier Nov. 28, and spoke to the personnel supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.Escorted by Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, commander CJTF-HOA, Mr. England toured the camp talking to units about the importance of their work in the region.The Secretary of the Navy's visit was an opportunity to show the decision makers back home what is going on in the Horn of Africa; that the combined joint task force is being very successful in defeating transnational terrorism, according to Robeson. Those are the leaders who find ways to get more assets in the Horn of Africa to make the ongoing operations here even more successful."The ability to get the Secretary of the Navy here will help him completely understand the complexity, the tyranny of distances, and the amount of terrorist activity in this region," said Robeson.England had lunch with service members and later spoke during a troop call before he departed for the USS Germantown (LSD-42), where he spoke to another group of service members currently deployed in the region.Addressing service members at camp, England said their support in the Horn of Africa is vital to the success of America's Global War on Terrorism."You cannot protect and defend America from inside America," announced England. "Just as President Bush said, we will go fight terrorist where they are at; we will not wait for them. If we don't stop terrorist here, we will later have to do it on the streets of America. We will fight them on their grounds, here. That is why your presence and efforts are so important today. You are making history," he explained. "If we don't stop terrorism now, the consequences will be even worse in the future."England made it a point to inform service members that their jobs play an important role in the war on terrorism even though they are not in the heat of battle."You are fighting on the frontline, and you may not even know it," he said. "We not only protect America, but we protect people around the world so everybody can taste the liberty and freedom that we enjoy everyday."The Global War on Terrorism is a much worse war than (America) has ever been in," said England. "For the first time a small number of people can do an immense damage to our country, economy and others around the world. So your presence here is greatly needed."After his speech, the SECNAV answered questions service members had and greeted them on a personal level while taking pictures among the crowd.Corporal Joshua Sims, with Marine Central Command, sat with Mr. England for lunch and said "He was an interesting man to meet and very easy to talk to. He was clear about our importance here in the Horn of Africa and didn't only speak of business. He told us some personal things about his life and later gave us his coin."His visit will be one to remember," commented Sims. "How many times will we get the opportunity to sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and talk about whatever we want to over lunch.""I came here to say thank you on behalf of America, on behalf of the President and (leaders nationwide), as well as myself," said England. "We stand beside you and thank you for what you are doing here. We need you ... God bless you all."Mr. England was sworn in Oct. 1, 2003 as the 73rd Secretary of the Navy. England becomes only the second person in history to serve twice as the leader of the Navy-Marine Corps team and the first to serve in back-to-back terms. He had served as the 72nd Secretary from May 2001 until January 2003 before President George W. Bush asked him to serve as the first deputy secretary at the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
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