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President, Vice President Meet with Top Officials at Pentagon

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2007 – President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with top leaders at the Pentagon today to discuss their commitment to providing servicemembers with all they need “to meet the challenges of this new century,” Bush said.

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President Bush and Vice President Cheney meet with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at The Pentagon, Aug. 31, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby
  

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In a written statement released by the White House after his meeting with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Bush said he accepted a recommendation Gates made in January to increase the overall strength of the Army and Marines by 92,000 over the next five years.

“This will strengthen our military and help reset our forces to respond to multiple contingencies around the world at any given moment,” Bush said. “The effort is well under way, but there is more to do, and the Joint Chiefs are doing a terrific job monitoring the health of our all-volunteer force.”

The president said the meeting included discussion about military and civilian coordination, noting that joint civilian and military teams currently are deployed in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines and Iraq.

“In Iraq, we have more than doubled the number of civilian-led provincial reconstruction teams this year, most of which are embedded with U.S. combat brigades,” Bush said. “These teams are a force multiplier for our men and women in uniform, and they are essential to the "bottom up" political progress taking place in Anbar, Diyala, and other provinces across Iraq.

“The Civilian Reserve Corps now being developed will enlarge the pool of civilian volunteers to support and enhance our missions,” he continued.

Bush remarked that a highly anticipated assessment by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker is due out next month. “This status report comes less than three months since our new strategy became fully operational and will assess what is going well, what can be improved, and what adjustments might be made in the coming months,” he said.

The president urged congressional members to withhold judgment until the report has been presented.

“The stakes in Iraq are too high and the consequences too grave for our security here at home to allow politics to harm the mission of our men and women in uniform,” he said. “It is my hope that we can put partisanship and politics behind us and commit to a common vision that will provide our troops what they need to succeed and secure our vital national interests in Iraq and around the world.”

Bush closed his statement by praising servicemembers’ resolve, and vowing to uphold the legacy of their effort.

“The brave men and women of our armed forces and their families are making heroic sacrifices to secure our country,” he said. “America will honor these sacrifices by ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a more peaceful, just, and democratic world.”

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Gen. Peter Pace (left), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates await the arrival of President Bush and Vice President Cheney as their limousine arrives at the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates prepares to open the limousine door upon the arrival of President Bush and Vice President Cheney at the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Adm. Mike Mullen (center), chief of naval operations, looks on as President Bush greets Marine Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, at the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Bush greets servicemembers at the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 2007. The president met with top leaders to discuss their commitment to providing servicemembers with all they need "to meet the challenges of this new century," Bush said in a statement following the meeting. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Bush and Vice President Cheney meet with top leaders at the Pentagon, Aug. 31, 2007. From left to right: Vice President Cheney, President Bush, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael G. Mullen. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWith President Bush in the lead, and followed by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates talks to Vice President Richard Cheney as they depart the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Bush salutes Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, following a meeting at the Pentagon on Aug. 31, 3007. In a statement released afterward, Bush said he met with top leaders at the Pentagon to discuss their commitment to providing servicemembers with "all they need to meet the challenges of this new century." Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby  
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