Prospect of Success Revived in Iraq, Bush Says
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2008 In the wake of the early 2007 surge of additional forces into Baghdad and western Baghdad, coalition forces have “revived the prospect of success in Iraq,” President Bush said in his weekly radio address.
The president used his weekly radio address April 12 to give an update on the progress of the war and review last week’s report from the top commander there, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker.
“Fifteen months ago, al-Qaida was using bases in Iraq to kill our troops and terrorize Iraqis. Today, we have put al-Qaida on the defensive in Iraq, and now we are working to deliver a crippling blow,” Bush said.
Since the surge began, coalition forces have made “significant progress,” Bush said. Sectarian violence and civilian and military deaths are down, and improvements in security have helped clear the way for political and economic progress, the president said. The Iraqi government has passed a budget and three major benchmark laws, and many economic indicators are now pointed in the right direction, he said.
“Iraq is assuming responsibility for almost all the funding of large-scale reconstruction projects, and our share of security costs is dropping, as well. On the political front, Iraq is planning to hold elections that will provide a way for Iraqis to settle disputes through the political process instead of through violence,” Bush said.
These gains, led to the president this week ordering that troop deployments there be reduced from 15 to 12 months, and that “dwell time” be at least a year between deployments. By the end of July, the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq will be at the pre-surge level of 15, down from 20.
After the complete withdrawal of surge troops, Petraeus will assess security conditions in Iraq and recommend when, or if, more troops can withdrawn.
“Our job in the period ahead is to stand with the Iraqi government as it makes the transition to responsibility for its own security and its own destiny,” Bush said.
During the transition, coalition forces will stay on the offense, continue supporting the Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities, and move over time into an over-watch role, the president said.
“Our efforts are aimed at a clear goal: a free Iraq that can protect its people, support itself economically, and take charge of its own political affairs,” Bush said.
Bush credited the success in Iraq to the troops serving there and promised more will come home as security conditions continue to improve.
“The turnaround that our men and women in uniform have made possible in Iraq is a brilliant achievement. And we expect that, as conditions on the ground continue to improve, they will permit us to continue the policy of return on success,” Bush said.
As a guarantee of success in Iraq, the president cited the valor of Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who posthumously received the Medal of Honor last week for his heroic actions in Iraq. In September 2006, Monsoor used his body to absorb a grenade blast that likely would have killed two fellow SEALs and several Iraqi soldiers.
“It is heroism like Michael Monsoor's that pays the cost of human freedom. Our prayers remain with Michael's family and with all the men and women who continue his noble fight. We look forward to the day when they return home in victory,” Bush said.