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Bush to Increase Army, Marine Corps, Praises Troop Accomplishments

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2007 – President Bush tonight announced plans to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps so they’re better postured to confront 21st-century threats, and he praised troops serving today for their service and sacrifice.

During a televised address to announce his new Iraq strategy, Bush said a new, bipartisan Congressional working group will focus on winning the war on terror.

"We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need ... We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny," he said.

Unveiling his new Iraq strategy, the president praised troops carrying out the global war on terror.

“In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us,” he said. “These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time.”

Bush said his strategy for Iraq needed to be changed, but said it had nothing to do with anything the troops serving there. “Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely,” he said. “They have done everything asked of them. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

The president acknowledged the hardships these troops and their loved ones have endured during their deployments into harm’s way. “They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table,” he said. “They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty.”

Bush recognized the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died serving the country. “We mourn the loss of every fallen American, and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice,” he said.

The president said his new plan for Iraq will help ensure the sacrifices U.S. troops and their families have made won’t be without cause and that Iraq’s new government will succeed.

But Bush warned that the plan won’t immediately stop violence and that more sacrifice will need to be made as it is put into place. “Let me be clear,” he said. “The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent,” he said. “Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.”

Bush steeled the nation for what is to come. “The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice and resolve,” he said. “It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation, and throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed.

“Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century,” Bush said. “We can and we will prevail.”

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