San Diego Union-Tribune

May 26, 2001

Annapolis grads hear Bush urge risk-taking


ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- President Bush promised Naval Academy graduates yesterday that he would foster a military culture that encourages and rewards intellectual risk-taking and innovation.

"As president, I am committed to fostering a military culture where intellectual risk-taking and forward thinking are rewarded, not dreaded," he said. "And I'm committed to ensuring that visionary leaders are recognized and promoted."

In his first commencement address to a service academy, a springtime rite for presidents, Bush did not reveal any details of the continuing national security reviews that many policy leaders, including members of Congress, had hoped he might.

Instead, speaking in vague terms, the president promised to keep the U.S. armed services the best in the world through revolutionary advances in technology.

He envisioned Aegis-equipped ships "protecting entire continents from the threat of ballistic missile attack," and "modified Trident submarines carrying hundreds of the next-generation conventional cruise missiles."

That apparently was an endorsement of the Navy's push for a ship-based
regional missile defense system and conversion of four old ballistic missile
submarines so they could carry large numbers of Tomahawk and other
missiles for firing at land targets.

He also endorsed the forward deployment of U.S. forces, the key Navy and Marine Corps mission, noting that nearly one-third of the naval forces are overseas, and he specifically cited the San Diego-based Constellation aircraft carrier battle group and Boxer amphibious group, both in the Persian Gulf.

"Those forces are America's insurance policy in a world of change and
challenge," Bush said, in comments that may appear at odds with his
campaign statements about withdrawing U.S. forces from many foreign