President Bush: grand for Naval Academy

Downsizing the nation's network of military bases is a painful but crucial step in the process of transforming the U.S. military into a fighting force that fits an age of terror, President Bush was arguing before &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Naval Academy graduates on Friday.

Bush was delivering the commencement address to the academy's Class of 2005 in Annapolis, Md., at ceremonies that also were to feature a flyover by the Blue Angels, the Navy's six-jet precision flying team of F/A-18 Hornets.

When Bush last spoke at a Naval Academy commencement, it was four months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his focus was the top-to-bottom reshaping of the military into a faster, more flexible and more high-tech, but not necessarily larger, force. That transformation, led by Defense Secretary &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Donald H. Rumsfeld, is still under way and was again a focus of the president's remarks to the midshipmen.

But the transformation has been complicated by the attacks, and the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that Bush has launched since then, reports ABC News.

The U.S. military this month proposed closing about 193 bases, including 33 of 435 major bases, in the first round of base closings and realignments in a decade. The proposal touched off a political struggle as cities and towns press their lawmakers to fight to save their bases, which in many cases are their largest employers.

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