U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy
Fort McCoy, Wisconsin
4:43 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you for that warm welcome. To the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army White, Major General Daniels, Brigadier General Iacovelli, Sergeant Major Farmer, and most importantly to all of the incredible men and women who serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America: It is an honor to be here at Fort McCoy — the “Total Force Training Center.” (Applause.)
But as I get started, allow me to bring greetings from a friend of mine — from your Commander-in-Chief and a tireless champion for all of you who wear the Armed Forces of the United States. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) We’re proud of you all.
The President wanted me to be here today to make sure you all knew how much we appreciate the work you do here at Fort McCoy and the way that you make sure that our military are ready. The efforts that you provide here each and every day — through the generations, you’ve provided — here at Fort McCoy have made America safer. And we’re grateful and we’re proud.
You know, the Old Book says that “If you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect.” And I stand before you today, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief and a grateful nation, to pay a debt of honor and a debt of respect to each and every one of you.
You stood up, you stepped forward to protect our families, our freedom, and our way of life. You put on the uniform of the greatest all-volunteer military the world has ever seen. You stepped forward, Army, and said “This We’ll Defend.” (Applause.) You have our thanks. You have our thanks and you have the admiration of the American people.
But the President and I also know that none of you really serve your nation alone — that behind you are loved ones. They give you the strength to do your duty and stand alongside you.
So, if you don’t mind, would you all help me in thanking the spouses, the moms, the dads, the kids who stand behind our heroes here at Fort McCoy? We’re proud of all of you, too. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
You know, the Armed Forces of the United States are the world’s greatest force for good. And you chose to be a part of that — to follow in the footsteps of our nation’s greatest heroes. You chose to do your part, in our time, and leave a legacy of freedom for generations to come.
While you come from the rest of us, you’re the best of us. And you are Army Strong. (Applause.)
You know, it’s an honor for me to be with all of you today. It’s amazing to think that, for more than a century, Fort McCoy has been at the very center of America’s national security.
This base trained artillery units in World War I; it hosted the historic Second Army Maneuvers during World War II, preparing tens of thousands of soldiers for deployment overseas; and for 35 years, Fort McCoy has trained more than 100,000 military personnel every single year from every branch of the service, faithfully executing your mission to “Underpin Total Force Readiness.”
In fact, some of the 150,000 members of the United States military came to Fort McCoy in the last year alone, preparing themselves for deployment at a moment’s notice to go anywhere in the world in defense of freedom.
So to all the men and women who train here, who work here at Fort McCoy; to all the civilian support, let me assure you that your Commander-in-Chief and I, and the American people, know that the work you do here is vitally important — vitally important to our national security.
And your work here does not go unnoticed. In fact, I learned on the way here that you’ve received some awards, which ought to be reflected on.
We’re standing here today in Equipment Concentration Site — I guess, 67(G). This site stores and maintains more than 16,500 pieces of equipment for 353 different units worldwide. And because of your incredible work and the work that you’ve done to ensure that this equipment is ready to defend freedom anywhere at any time, I was proud to learn that you earned the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence. Congratulations, Fort McCoy. Well done. Well done. (Applause.)
And while the 88th Readiness Division is headquartered here at Fort McCoy, it provides leadership to nearly 600 facilities across 19 states, coordinates 4 U.S. Army Bands, and helps manage 14 local training areas through the region, giving soldiers the chance to train and prepare closer to their homes.
So, really, it should come as no surprise that that work was recognized as well, when you were chosen as the United States Army’s 2018 Gold Winner, which means the 88th Readiness Division is the best performing Readiness Division in the entire United States Army. Congratulations. (Applause.)
And President Trump and I understand that our nation’s security depends on all of you and that the foundation of American military might is the courage, the tenacity, the professionalism, and the selflessness of our armed forces.
You know, I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and their families. (Applause.)
You know, after we saw recent years where military budgets were depleted through constant budget cuts — and you saw the impact here at Fort McCoy of what those cuts meant in terms of readiness, in terms of keeping that equipment prepared to deploy at any time — I’m proud to report to all of you: Over the last two years, President Trump has taken decisive action to rebuild our military. We’re restoring the arsenal of democracy with the largest increases in our military defense in more than a generation. (Applause.) It’s true.
And we’re grateful for the strong bipartisan support that we’ve had in the Congress to support our efforts to stand by all of you and give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and the support you need to accomplish your mission. I’m also proud to that that all included the largest pay increase for our armed forces in more than 10 years. (Applause.) Well deserved. Every penny.
In fact, just a few months ago, your Commander-in-Chief proposed the largest defense budget in American history. It’s about $750 billion to ensure that the strongest fighting force in the history of the world becomes stronger still. And this proposal funds an end strength, you’ll be glad to know, of more 2 million active and reserved military personnel. We’ll be providing resources for 12 battle force ships, 2 large unmanned surface ships, and 110 fighter aircraft. And we’re going modernize two armored brigade combat teams.
And you can know with confidence, this President, this Vice President, and this administration will always fight for the men and women who fight for us. I promise you that. (Applause.)
We’re going to work through that budget process, but I promise you: The support of the American people, the support of their elected representatives, I know, is going to do the right thing again just as they have over the last two years.
With that renewed American strength, I’m proud to report that, with the courage of our armed forces, the United States is once again embracing our role as leader of the free world. We’re standing with our allies and we’re standing up to our enemies.
Our NATO Allies are contributing more to our common defense than ever before. And we’ve taken the fight to radical Islamic terrorists, on our terms, on their soil. And thanks to the courage of our armed forces, two months ago, the last inch controlled by the Islamic State in Syria was liberated. The territory of the ISIS caliphate is no more. (Applause.) Incredible.
Incredible to think of what the soldiers and all the military personnel that you helped train, you helped prepare here accomplished. It’s amazing to think of where ISIS was just a few short years ago. It had overrun vast areas of Syria and Iraq.
In Iraq, it was areas that had been purchased at great sacrifice by the men and women of our armed forces. And now it’s all brought back. It’s all taken back. And the ISIS flag no longer flies over any ISIS territory in Iraq or Syria because of our armed forces and how you prepared them. Give yourselves another round of applause. (Applause.) Amazing.
But in this time of widening challenges around the world and unknowable threats, I know you know to be ready. I know all of you know that the “soldier does not bear the sword in vain,” for the work you do here has never been more important. As we increase our support for our military, it’s a reflection of the need for America to be strong — stronger than ever before. Because we know the best way to peace is through strength. And you are our strength. (Applause.)
So I want to urge you — I want to urge you here at Fort McCoy: Be vigilant. Mind your mission. Take care of one another. Look after one another. Respect the unified chain of command. And keep executing your mission here with the extraordinary professionalism that’s been celebrated in all the ways that we just recounted.
And as you do all of that, just know the American people are counting on you. They’re counting on you here to contribute to the readiness of our fighting forces, and that the work you do here, while not down range, is just as important as anything on any frontline anywhere in the world.
You know, it’s very humbling to stand before you today, because while I am the son of an Army combat veteran from the Korean War — my dad was a lieutenant who saw combat — (applause) — and I’m the proud father of a United States Marine — (applause) — the truth is, my life never took me into the uniform of the United States. So I always feel very humbled every time I’m around men and women like all of you. Because I know that your service does not come without sacrifice. And the truth is, you made a decision to count the lives of the American people as more important than your life when you step forward to put on the uniform of the United States. Your family has made the sacrifice as you serve our nation in uniform.
But I wanted to come by today just to make sure you knew how grateful we all are for what you do every day, and also assure you that, here at Fort McCoy, that while we know that those of you who serve in uniform make sacrifices and bear a burden, you do not bear that burden alone. I want to assure you that you carry with you the pride of this nation. And I know you see it everywhere you go. And when you wear that uniform off the base, walking to a grocery store, you hear it — and not just here in Wisconsin, but all over the this country.
The American people love the men and women of our armed forces, and they are grateful for your service. I promise you that.
You also carry with you the confidence of your Commander-in-Chief and all of those in our chain of command and the leadership who see the extraordinary professionalism here at Fort McCoy and know we can count on you.
And let me lastly say, with great confidence, I also know that you serve carried by the prayers of the American people. You know, the sweetest words that I ever hear as I travel across this country are when people will take a minute to tell me and my wife, they tell the President and First Lady, “We’re praying for you.”
And I want to assure all of you: Millions of Americans are praying for all of you; are grateful for all of you; and praying for all those who pass through here at Fort McCoy to go into harm’s way, benefitting by your preparation and the training that they receive here. They pray, in those ancient words, that “no harm [would] befall you… [no harm would] come near your tent. [That] He [would] command His angels concerning you, to watch over you in all your ways.”
So be confident, soldiers, you have the prayers of the American people. (Applause.) You do.
But thank you for the honor of being with you today, men and women who have answered the call. You’ve put on the uniform. I leave here today with renewed confidence that as long as we have men and women with the courage to serve, the selflessness to step forward; as long as we have heroes willing to put their lives on the line for our freedom; and as long as we have patriots like all of you, we will protect this nation. We will defend our freedom. And we will forge a future of security, and prosperity, and peace for ourselves and generations to come.
Thank you. God bless you here at Fort McCoy. And God bless America. (Applause.)
5:01 P.M. CDT