[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 37, Number 41 (Monday, October 15, 2001)]
[Pages 1432-1433]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Address to the Nation Announcing Strikes Against Al Qaida Training Camps 
and Taliban Military Installations in Afghanistan

October 7, 2001

    Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States military has begun 
strikes against Al Qaida terrorist training camps and military 
installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully 
targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a 
terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of 
the Taliban regime.
    We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great 
Britain. Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany, and 
France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds. More than 40 
countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and across Asia have 
granted air transit or landing rights. Many more have shared 
intelligence. We are supported by the collective will of the world.
    More than 2 weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and 
specific demands: Close terrorist training camps; hand over leaders of 
the Al Qaida network; and return all foreign nationals, including 
American citizens, unjustly detained in your country. None of these 
demands were met. And now the Taliban will pay a price. By destroying 
camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for 
the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil 
    Initially, the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other 
entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear 
the way for sustained, comprehensive, and relentless operations to drive 
them out and bring them to justice.
    At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the 
generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, 
we'll also drop food, medicine, and supplies to the starving and 
suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan.
    The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people, and 
we are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practice the 
Islamic faith. The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid 
terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by 
committing murder in its name.
    This military action is a part of our campaign against terrorism, 
another front in a war that has already been joined through diplomacy, 
intelligence, the freezing of financial assets, and the arrests of known 
terrorists by law enforcement agents in 38 countries. Given the nature 
and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient 
accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with 
determination and will and purpose.
    Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every 
nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral 
ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, 
they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves. And they will take 
that lonely path at their own peril.
    I'm speaking to you today from the Treaty Room of the White House, a 
place where American Presidents have worked for peace. We're a peaceful 
nation. Yet, as we have learned so suddenly and so tragically, there can 
be no peace in a world of sudden terror. In the face of today's new 
threat, the only way to pursue peace is to pursue those who threaten it.
    We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it. The name of 
today's military operation is Enduring Freedom. We defend not only our 
precious freedoms but also the freedom of people everywhere to live and 
raise their children free from fear.
    I know many Americans feel fear today. And our Government is taking 
strong precautions. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies are 
working aggressively around America, around the world, and around the 
clock. At my request, many Governors have activated the National Guard 
to strengthen airport security. We have called up Reserves to reinforce 
our military capability and strengthen the protection of our homeland.
    In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths: 
patience with the long waits that will result from tighter security; 
patience and understanding that it will take

[[Page 1433]]

time to achieve our goals; patience in all the sacrifices that may come.
    Today those sacrifices are being made by members of our Armed Forces 
who now defend us so far from home, and by their proud and worried 
families. A Commander in Chief sends America's sons and daughters into a 
battle in a foreign land only after the greatest care and a lot of 
prayer. We ask a lot of those who wear our uniform. We ask them to leave 
their loved ones, to travel great distances, to risk injury, even to be 
prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. They are 
dedicated; they are honorable; they represent the best of our country. 
And we are grateful.
    To all the men and women in our military, every sailor, every 
soldier, every airman, every coastguardsman, every marine, I say this: 
Your mission is defined; your objectives are clear; your goal is just; 
you have my full confidence; and you will have every tool you need to 
carry out your duty.
    I recently received a touching letter that says a lot about the 
state of America in these difficult times, a letter from a fourth-grade 
girl with a father in the military: ``As much as I don't want my dad to 
fight,'' she wrote, ``I'm willing to give him to you.''
    This is a precious gift, the greatest she could give. This young 
girl knows what America is all about. Since September 11, an entire 
generation of young Americans has gained new understanding of the value 
of freedom and its cost in duty and in sacrifice.
    The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will 
not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom 
will prevail.
    Thank you. May God continue to bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m. in the Treaty Room at the White