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All National Power Elements Required to Beat Terrorism, Bush Tells Cabinet

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2006 – President Bush met today with his Cabinet "to make sure that we're using every element of national power to win the war on terror and to secure the peace," he told reporters in the Rose Garden.

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Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (front left) join President Bush and other administration officials during a press conference at the White House, March 28. Photo by Paul Morse

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The war on terror "requires all of us involved in government to respond and to protect America and help spread freedom," the president said.

Attendees at the meeting, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, received briefings about a full range of activities in Iraq, Bush said.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, reported that the Iraqis are back at the table, discussing the formation of their unity government, how it will operate and the best people to fill key positions, Bush told reporters.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice joined in the discussion, urging her fellow Cabinet members to build relationships with their Iraqi counterparts once the new Iraqi government forms, the president said.

"And I expect them to follow through on ... their commitments," Bush said. "Our strategy for rebuilding Iraq is comprehensive, and it includes a commitment from all parts of the federal government." This broad commitment will help the Iraqis establish a democracy, build the institutions necessary for a stable society and help defeat the terrorists, he said.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Army Gen. George Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, briefed the president and Cabinet on military operations in Iraq. They "reported on the ongoing efforts to win this war on terror, to defeat the enemy all around General Abizaid's theater of responsibility, as well as defeat the enemy in the central front in the war on terror, which is Iraq," Bush said.

The president said he appreciated Pace's contribution to the session and the input he and the other military leaders provided.

"These leaders, folks on the ground who know the condition on the ground, recognize this is hard work," Bush said. "But they also report on steady progress that we're making toward meeting our important goals." These are "to make sure Iraq is a democracy that can sustain herself, defend herself, and is not a safe haven for the terrorists," he said.

Bush said he plans to deliver a speech tomorrow about the situation in Iraq, reminding Americans that the only way the insurgents can win in Iraq is if the United States loses its resolve.

"During Saddam Hussein's brutal rule, he exploited the ethnic and religious diversity of Iraq by setting communities against one another," the president said. Now, terrorists and former regime members are doing the same, he said, "trying to set off a civil war through acts of sectarian violence."

They cannot defeat the United States and Iraqi security forces militarily, Bush said. The only way they can possibly win is "to cause us to lose our nerve and retreat, to withdraw," he said.

Bush said he'll discuss tomorrow how the Iraqis and the coalition can continue to work together to build a stable, free and prosperous Iraq.

"I'll remind the people we're not going to lose our nerve," he said. "The stakes are high, (and) we will complete this mission."

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