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Bush: $318 billion for defense a 'first step'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush signed a $318 billion defense appropriation bill into law Thursday, calling it a "first step" toward keeping "our commitment to our country" to wipe out terrorism wherever it is found and to ensure the safety of Americans.

"This bill makes a down payment on our central commitment that we will give our forces what they need to defeat global terror," Bush said at the signing ceremony.

"If the war against terror means we must find terror wherever it exists and pull it out by its roots and bring people to justice, our military must have the means to achieve that objective. This bill is just the beginning to make sure that happens."

Bush said the United States owes its military personnel "a full measure of respect" and pledged to provide "decent pay and quality of life" along with the "best equipment and weaponry."

"We owe you our freedom," he said.

Bush also praised his defense staff, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers.

The war on terrorism, he said, "is just and noble. We are delivering justice and not revenge."

Bush said funding provided in the bill for technological advancements follows the course of "America's clear advantage" in that area and said that in the future "we will define war on our terms."




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