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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Allison Barber
Allison Barber
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Biography
July 1, 2005

Allison Barber

DCSIMG
Good afternoon and happy 4th of July weekend to everyone! First, before we begin, I would like to welcome everyone online with us today. On behalf of our fantastic men and women in the military, their families and Secretary Rumsfeld, I want to thank each of you for taking the time to log into Ask the White House to find out how you can show your support for our military men and women. I hope that either during this chat or shortly after everyone will take a moment to visit, www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil and thank the troops for your freedom on this, our 229th anniversary of Independence. Your support means so much to them and to their families. With that, I'm ready to get started with your questions!


Meleah, from Joplin Missouri writes:
Ms. Barber,Would you please explain exactly what the "America Supports You" program is? Thank you for taking the time to answer my question Meleah

Allison Barber
Thank you for your question, Meleah. America Supports You came about to fill a simple need: to communicate America's support for the military to our men and women in uniform. Several months ago we began to hear disturbing questions from our brave troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They didn't know if Americans still stood behind them. We knew Americans supported the troops - we saw it everyday in every state and in every city. America Supports You came about to provide a vehicle to communicate that support on a global scale to our brave fighting men and women. To date, AmericaSupportsYou.mil has had millions of hits, nearly 100,000 Americans have sent in messages of support, and folks across the country are logging in to find ways they can show their support for our troops right from their living rooms.


William, from Lansing, MI writes:
What is the best way an ordinary citizen can show his support for out troops? Also, how is the morale of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Allison Barber
Great question, William! There are so many ways to show your support. First, we'd love for you to log on and visit www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil and send a message of support directly to our troops. Secondly, if you have the time, click on the "how to help" icon and look through the dozens of non profit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and see if there is one that you'd like to get involved in. Lastly, the next time you are walking through the airport and see a military man or women in uniform, go up to them and say "thank you". You'd be amazed the effect it will have on them.


John, from Charlotte, NC writes:
I just watched "our" President give an emotional speech at Fort Bragg and I'm so proud to say I'm an American. You could tell at the end of his speech, he was so proud of the men and women who support and defend our country. He mentioned a website to help support our troops. What was the site and is it up and running yet?

Allison Barber
Thank you John for that great question and for the pride your comment clearly shows you have in our wonderful country. During his speech to the world on Tuesday, President Bush encouraged all Americans to take a moment this 4th of July to thank the troops for our freedom by visiting www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. On the site you can send a message of support directly to our men and women in uniform and to their families here at home. You can also find more than 150 ways in which to support our military, both at home and stationed abroad. I hope you get a second today to visit the site and share your own message with our troops.


Doug, from Seaford, DE writes:
I didn't originally vote for President Bush but I now realize that he has succeeded in protecting our country from additional terrorist attacks. Our men and women in uniform deserve our praise and thanks for their efforts and sacrifice to protect our freedom -- as well as providing hope and a brighter future for the Iraqi people.

Allison Barber
Doug, you are absolutely right. As I am sure you know, this week marks the one-year anniversary of Iraqi sovereignty. One year ago this week, 25 million Iraqis were liberated from one of the 20th Centuries most brutal regimes. The freedom they enjoy today, and the security we have at home, has been bought with the courage and sacrifice of our military men and women. Thank you for taking the time to write in your comment of support!


Joshua, from Miami, FL writes:
Secretary Barber, How has all of the negative media about Iraq and Guantanamo effected the morale of our troops? Does the viceral nature of those opposed to the war have a negative effect on our troops?

Allison Barber
Great question Joshua. You are absolutely right to ask about the morale of our troops around the world. Having traveled to Iraq personally, and being the spouse of an army reservist that just returned home from a yearlong deployment to Iraq, I can tell you wholeheartedly that our troops get their strength and their determination from the knowledge that they have the full support and backing of the folks backs home. The negative images on TV and unfortunate comments by some trying to make a political point can all effect the morale of our troops. But as we here back home know first hand, the vast majority of Americans stand steadfast with our troops. Making sure they know they have that support is the #1 goal of America Supports You. We know Americans support the troops, and through America Supports You we communicate that support directly to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines.


Art, from Pine Bush, New York writes:
This is more of a request than a question.My son is Chad Steven Singer. On June 25th of this year he turned 18, and also graduated Pine Bush High School on the same day.

He is leaving for a 5 year enlistment in the US NAVY on July 19th. His career choice in the NAVY is Corpsman. Would the president send him a congratulations on his birthday, graduation and a word of encouragement for his military service to his country? he will be the fourth generation in the Singer family to serve their country. Great-grandfather, grandfather and father were in the NAVY, ARMY AIRS CORPS and Air Force respectively.

May GOD bless.

Sincerely, A Loving Dad

Allison Barber
Art, thank you for your very kind note. And thank you for your family's four generations of service to our country. I am happy to forward your note along to the White House and I know that everyone here at the Pentagon is honored by Chad's commitment to our military and to our nation. Please give my best to your son on his birthday and as he heads off on his new life as a proud member of the United States Navy.


Scott, from scottsunnylane.org writes:
Are there any faith-based initiatives to support our troops?

Allison Barber
Scott, by visiting www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil and clicking on the "how to help" page you can find over 150 non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting our troops.


Leona, from New York City writes:
How can we spread the news to our local community about America Supports You?

Allison Barber
Thanks for the question, Leona. Many folks have written letters to the editor, others have hosted local community events to support our troops and invited the papers, still others have hosted dinners honoring returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The wonderful thing about this great country of ours is that there are just so many ways to say "thank you, we support you". Whichever way you choose, please be sure to tell us so we can communicate your support directly to our troops.


Susie, from Dallas writes:
What is the goal of America Supports You?

Allison Barber
Susie, our goal is simple: To let every active duty, guard, and reserve service member - and their families - know that they have the full support of the American people.


Daniel, from Great Barrington, MA writes:
Hi, I am a 15 year old who is very supportive of our troops. I ordered a dog tag the day after the President's speech. Is the dog tag free? And what are the other things I can do to support our heroic fighting men and women?

Allison Barber
Thank you, Daniel, for your support and interest! I hope that in the future you will consider serving our country, either in our military, in government service or in your local community. In the meantime, there are several opportunities for you to get involved now on our wed site, www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. We are counting on leaders just like you to continue the proud heritage of public service that has served our country so well.


Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Secretary Barber: How does The AMERICA SUPPORTS YOU program support the troops? How are the troops aware or informed of such support? Thank You

Allison Barber
Cliff, our troops learn about the support through the www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil website, via the Pentagon Channel which is also streamed over the internet at www.pentagonchannel.mil, via the Armed Forces Radio and Television system broadcast to over 150 countries and through the Star and Stripes newspaper published daily in countries such as Iraq. One of the great things about the America Supports You campaign is that Americans here at home can log in and read messages posted back from our troops around the world. Messages from people like A1C Ryan Starzyk from Jersey City, NJ who wrote: "I would like to say thank you so much for all the support we are all receiving over in Iraq. Although the days are long and rough, knowing that the people of America support us is more then one can ask for!" Keep up your support Cliff - it really does mean the world to our military men and women.


Brig, from Huntington Beach, CA writes:
Our city council has passed a resolution that the city will adopt the families of deployed Marines from Camp Pendleton (its nearest base). I am interested in helping them with this noble effort so can you direct me to the appropriate agency(s) so that we can work with the military to help families in need while their spouses are defending our freedom and helping other gain their freedom?

Allison Barber
Brig, thank you for the question - and thank you to the people of Huntington Beach for coming together to support our troops. If you visit our web page and click the "how to help" section, you will find a number of organizations dedicated to helping Marines and their families. I hope while you are there you will take a moment to send your own message of support!


Marilyn, from Texas writes:
Is there a way to get through to the media that when they are so condeming of President Bush and US policy that it not only hurts President Bush but that it hurts the troops and how other people look at us. After all it must be very hurtful to the troops when they see all those condemning reports and it must really look weird from other countries to see that. Can you convince the reporters to report more sensibly?

Allison Barber
Marilyn, your concern for our troops is wonderful, and so appropriate during this 4th of July weekend. Your question gets to the very heart of the America Supports You program. If you ask any soldier on the battlefield what his #1 concern is, you won't hear complaints about heat or workloads or fraught filled night patrols. What you will hear is concern for loved ones, concern that the American people are standing behind our service members and their families back home. Focusing on the troops, on communicating directly to them and their families, is what America Supports You is all about.


Christine, from England writes:
I just want to say that I support America and I am praying for the American Troops...When do you think the American Troops will be out of Iraq? President Bush is doing a great Job as President and i also support him tooo from Christine Adams, Hayes,Middlesex.England

Allison Barber
Christine, thank you for your question and for your support of our troops. On Tuesday night President Bush laid out a pretty clear strategy for the way ahead in Iraq. I know his speech is posted on www.WhiteHouse.gov and I would encourage anyone who hasn't read it to take a few minutes and read over the President's plan. Right now we have a dual track in Iraq. First, we are working with our coalition and Iraqi partners to provide a secure environment for the Iraqi political process to unfold, and, secondly, we are working to rapidly train and equip Iraqi security forces to be able to provide for their own future defense. The Iraqis have made enormous strides in the political arena, having held successful elections, formed a government and begun the process of writing a new constitution. Equally impressive, each day Iraqis are taking a greater role in providing for their own security. Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions - a dramatic increase from just two years ago. As the President said, as Iraqi security forces stand up, U.S. forces will be able to stand down. What our troops need to know from the people back home is not a specific date on a calendar, but that the Americans stand behind them each and every day they are in Iraq, or Afghanistan or Germany or serving afloat in the Pacific Ocean. Keep up the strong support!


Allison Barber
Thanks so much for all of your questions today and for all of the support you give to our men and women in uniform every day. This 4th of July, I hope everyone will take a minute to log on to www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil and thank the troops for protecting their freedom.