President Bush on Saturday descended upon Charleston AFB, S.C., telling airmen of the active duty 437th Airlift Wing and its associate unit, Air Force Reserve Command’s 315th Airlift Wing, that he was “in the neighborhood” and wanted to say he is “impressed by the record of the folks here at Charleston Air Force Base.” He noted in his remarks that the base’s airmen, since September 2001, have “launched more than 14,000 C-17 missions.” He went on to say: “You have airlifted more cargo to Operation Iraqi Freedom than any other unit in the United States. … You have provided humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan. … You delivered 53,000 pounds of relief supplies to the tsunami victims in Indonesia. And, after Hurricane Katrina, you delivered 2.5 million pounds of relief supplies and evacuated 2,400 citizens from New Orleans.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.