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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Retired U.S. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf rallied the credit union troops attending the California Credit Union League’s annual meeting and convention here, exhorting them to unconditionally support the U.S. policy against terrorism and the bombing of Afghanistan. “We need your support,” said Schwarzkopf, who commanded troops in the Persian Gulf war. “It is criminal to send our troops into battle without you standing behind them 100 percent.” Schwarzkopf, who spoke at the closing luncheon on Tuesday (Oct. 16), was interrupted several times by applause and received a standing ovation. Many in the audience carried and waved small American flags. “We must all be willing to take charge and above all else we have to do what’s right, and we cannot fail,” he said. “We will prevail.” Despite the bombing attacks on Afghanistan and growing concerns about anthrax and other possible biological attacks, Schwarzkopf kept to his script on leadership. It was only near the end of his speech and during a brief question-and-answer session that he discussed the war. “Yes, we are at war,” he said. “Therefore, we need your leadership now more than ever before to stand solidly behind our government and behind our country. I know because I have learned over and over again that when the American people stand solidly behind what it is we want to do, we can do anything we want to do. Anything.” Schwarzkopf said he had spoken to President George W. Bush a few days earlier but did not give any details about what was discussed. “Regardless of what your political persuasion might be, this is a very good example of someone who is put in command and is now by golly taking charge,” he said of Bush. He also disclosed that he had “a couple of offers” to apparently return to military service but had turned them down. Schwarzkopf retired in 1991. He did not elaborate on those offers. Surprisingly, he was asked only briefly about the war – “so far, so good,” he said – and there were no questions about the way the military campaign was being waged despite some concerns being expressed in Washington. Asked about the prospect of U.S. forces tracking down Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Schwarzkopf said he had no doubt that the exiled Saudi would be caught. “One way or another, we’re going to get him and his bully boys,” Schwarzkopf said. Schwarzkopf was booked as a speaker for the conference long before terrorists hijacked four jetliners and slammed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. More than 5,000 people were killed in the attacks. A day earlier, former CNN newsman Bernard Shaw, who covered the bombing of Iraq during the Persian Gulf war from a ninth-floor hotel room in Bagdad, addressed league members during an opening morning general session. An estimated 1,400 people attended the convention, held Oct. 14-16 at the Disneyland Hotel. Shaw praised Bush’s handling of the terrorist crisis. “What he said I agreed with, believed it and endorsed to the deepest reaches of my being,” he said to applause from the audience. He also was applauded when he said there were members of Congress and people in the White House who want to expand the war on terrorism into Iraq in the hope of “decapitating” Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Shaw, like Schwarzkopf, warned that the war against terrorism was going to be a long one. “Washington wants the Taliban government to fall,” he said. “If and when that happens, this war will not be over. Our 44th and 45th presidents will have this war to confront and to fight.” In his remarks, Schwarzkopf said the war was going to be a “long haul.” Shaw said bin Laden was hiding and that American troops would have to “close in cave by cave if necessary to capture or if necessary to kill him.” He contended that one of bin Laden’s goals was to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden has accused the Saudi government of corruption and mismanagement and had demanded that foreign troops be withdrawn from the country. [email protected]

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