Bush Describes Strategy for Victory in Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2005 The United States has a plan for victory in Iraq that's starting to pay dividends, President Bush said today during his weekly radio address to the nation.
"Our strategy in Iraq is clear," Bush said. U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces are "hunting down deadly terrorist leaders," he said, as well as targeting the specific areas in which terrorists are known to operate.
The United States and its allies also are "constantly adapting our tactics to the changing tactics of the terrorists," Bush said, while continuing to train and equip more Iraqi Army troops and police who will eventually assume security duties in their country.
Bush said he recently met with the top U.S. military officers responsible for operations in Iraq, Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Army Gen. George Casey, the senior American commander in Iraq. The officers were in Washington this week to report their impressions to the commander-in-chief and to testify at Senate and House committee hearings on the conduct of the war.
The president said the two generals updated him on Iraq operations, including details of last week's killing in Baghdad of Abu Azzam, al Qaeda's number-two operations leader in Iraq.
"This brutal killer was a top lieutenant of the terrorist (Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi," Bush said. Azzam was responsible for recent attacks in Baghdad, the president said, that were designed to destabilize the new Iraqi government as it prepares to unveil a new constitution for public approval during an Oct. 15 referendum.
Bush said increased numbers of trained, equipped and capable Iraq security forces have enabled U.S. and coalition troops to hand over terrority secured from terrorists, such as the city of Karbala, to Iraqi troops.
"Now the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to keep a better hold on the cities we've taken from the terrorists," Bush explained. Meanwhile, U.S., coalition and Iraq forces are free to move on to engage terrorists in other parts of the country, he said.
Bush said U.S. and Iraqi forces recently teamed up to eject terrorists who were holed up in the town of Tal Afar in northwest Iraq near the Syrian border. After the area was secured, he noted, Iraqi troops moved in to keep the terrorists from returning to a place that had been used as a conduit for terrorist infiltration from Syria.
And U.S. and Iraqi troops continue anti-terrorist operations in western Iraq, Bush said, to "deny al Qaeda a safe haven there and to stop terrorists from crossing into the country from Syria."
Bush said more than 100 battalions of Iraqi security forces are operating across their country and are serving with increasing effectiveness.
"As Iraqi forces show they're capable of fighting the terrorists they are earning the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people," Bush said, "which will ensure the success of a free and democratic Iraq."
More security challenges loom ahead in Iraq, Bush said, pointing to the upcoming referendum on the new constitution and elections in December to choose a new Iraqi national government. The terrorists "have a history of escalating their attacks before Iraq's major political milestones," the president said.
Yet, the terrorists "will fail" to stop the progress of a free, democratic Iraq, Bush vowed, nor will they break the will of the United States and its allies.
Defeating terrorists in Iraq "will require more time and more sacrifice," Bush acknowledged. But all Americans can have confidence in the prowess of their military, he pointed out, noting "they've made important gains in recent weeks and months."
And U.S. military leaders and troops in Iraq "are helping us to bring victory in the war on terror," Bush concluded.