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Bush Addresses U.S. Naval Academy

May 25, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush was opening the Memorial Day weekend with a salute to graduating midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, renewing his focus on military morale and readiness.

Bush was addressing the class of 2001 in Annapolis on Friday. He was praising those who serve in the military and outlining the challenges they face as a result of the changing international security landscape, aides said.

He also was renewing his pledge to improve quality of life in the military _ what he has called his administration’s first order of business as it conducts its top-to-bottom armed services review.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, leading the review, has been meeting with lawmakers this week.

Many questions remain unanswered, including how and when to use force, how big the military should be, how it should be organized and for what missions.

Rumsfeld is grappling with whether the United States should abandon the principle that the military must be prepared to fight two major regional wars at the same time.

He said this week he would like for Congress to hold hearings on the question, suggesting an unveiling of the Bush administration’s strategy is weeks or months away.

Several administration officials said Bush was steering clear of the specifics on how he might transform the military.

Instead, he was to talk in generalities about challenges and opportunities the graduating midshipmen faced and to pay tribute to the Navy, its traditions and its heroes.

``He’ll discuss the valor, the honor and the commitment to country that comes from those who serve,″ White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

From Annapolis, Bush was heading to Camp David until Sunday.

He was leading a series of Memorial Day events Monday at the White House, Arlington Cemetery and in Mesa, Ariz., before going on to California for two days.

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On the Net: U.S. Naval Academy: http://www.usna.edu/

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