Bush Meets With Former Defense, State Secretaries on Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2006 President Bush discussed his plan for victory in Iraq with a group of former U.S. State and Defense Department chiefs during a White House meeting here today.
"We have a dual-track strategy for victory. On one hand, we will work to have a political process that says to all Iraqis, 'The future belongs to you,'" Bush said in a statement released to reporters after the meeting. "And on the other hand, we'll continue to work on the security situation there."
Bush said the key to success in Iraq is predicated on how quickly Iraq's new government and its security forces can take the lead in fighting and defeating the terrorists.
"And we're making darn good progress along those lines," the president said. About 220,000 Iraqi soldiers and police now are engaged in the battle against the insurgents in Iraq, as well as more than 150,000 U.S. and coalition troops.
Bush said he was pleased to listen to the concerns of the former senior officials. The commander in chief acknowledged that not all of the former officials agreed with his decision to deploy the U.S. military into Iraq in 2003 to depose former dictator Saddam Hussein.
"But these are good, solid Americans who understand that we've got to succeed now that we're there," Bush said of his distinguished guests. "And I'm most grateful for the suggestions that have been given.
"We take to heart the advice; we appreciate your experience and we appreciate you taking time out of your day," Bush told the group.
Earlier today, DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman ticked off a list of former senior officials slated to attend the White House meeting:
- Former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III, Madeleine K. Albright, Alexander M. Haig Jr., Colin L. Powell, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and George P. Schultz; and
- Former Secretaries of Defense Harold Brown, Robert S. McNamara, William S. Cohen, William J. Perry, Frank C. Carlucci, James R. Schlesinger and Melvin R. Laird.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commanding general of Multinational Force Iraq, were on hand to provide the former senior officials with an update on the situation in Iraq.