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Bush Says Allies Making Enormous Contributions in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2006 – NATO allies are making enormous contributions to freedom in Iraq, and U.S. forces won’t leave until the mission is complete, President Bush said today in Riga, Latvia.

“The battles in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a struggle between moderation and extremism that is unfolding across the broader Middle East,” Bush told NATO leaders at a summit in the Baltic capital.

“At this moment, a dozen NATO allies, including every one of the Baltic nations, are contributing forces to the coalition in Iraq,” Bush said during a speech at Latvia University. “And 18 NATO countries plus Ukraine are contributing forces to the NATO training mission that is helping develop the next generation of leaders for the Iraqi security forces.”

NATO trainers have instructed nearly 3,000 Iraqi personnel, including nearly 2,000 officers and civilian defense officials in Iraq. NATO also has trained more than 800 Iraqis at military schools outside the Middle East. “NATO has also helped Iraqis stand up a new military academy near Baghdad so Iraqis can develop their own military leaders in the years to come,” Bush said.

NATO countries have contributed $128 million in military equipment. Hungary has given the Iraqi military 77 T-72 main battle tanks, which make up the backbone of Iraq’s 9th Division, based in Taji. “By helping to equip the Iraqi security forces and training the next group of Iraqi military leaders, NATO is helping the Iraqi people in the difficult work of securing their country and their freedom,” Bush said.

After the NATO summit, Bush will travel to Jordan for meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “We will discuss the situation on the ground in his country, our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi security forces, and the responsibility of other nations in the region to support the security and stability of Iraq,” Bush said. “We will continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed.”

Bush said terrorists adhere to an ideology that rejects fundamental freedoms and opposes rights for women. “Their goal is to overthrow governments and to impose their totalitarian rule on millions,” he said. “They have a strategy to achieve these aims. They seek to convince America and our allies that we cannot defeat them and that our only hope is to withdraw and abandon an entire region to their domination.”

The war on terror is not a simple military conflict, Bush said, but “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”

“And in this struggle,” he added, “we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.”

Loss in the Middle East would encourage violent Islamic radicalism elsewhere. If terrorists gained control of Middle Eastern states, they would “use oil resources to fuel their radical agenda and to punish industrialized nations.”

Bush said terrorists would pursue weapons of mass destruction and then use them to blackmail the free world. “If we allow the extremists to do this, then 50 years from now history will look back on our time with unforgiving clarity and demand to know why we did not act,” he said. “Our alliance has a responsibility to act. We must lift up and support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the broader Middle East. We must bring hope to millions by strengthening young democracies from Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, and we must advance freedom as the great alternative to tyranny and terror.”

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