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Abizaid Underscores Importance of Iraq Mission

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 11, 2005 – U.S. troops in Iraq are performing a vital mission in the interest of their country, and Americans back home are very proud of them, Army Gen. John Abizaid told soldiers of the 256th Brigade Combat team during a visit to their camp here today.

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Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, speaks with soldiers of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, in Baghdad, Iraq, on Feb. 11. Photo by John Valceanu

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As commander of the U.S. Central Command, Abizaid is responsible for all U.S. troops in the Middle East, parts of Asia and the Horn of Africa, and he makes regular visits to units deployed in the region.

The brigade combat team's commander and staff members of his staff briefed the general on current operations and future plans during his visit to the Louisiana Army National Guard unit. The team, operating as part of 1st Cavalry Division, has been working to pacify some of the roughest areas around Baghdad.

"This is an important moment in history, and you are playing an important part in it," Abizaid told the soldiers after the briefing. "Thanks to you, we are able to help the Iraqi people move ahead."

By fighting to bring stability and security to Iraq, U.S. servicemembers are helping stabilize the entire region, Abizaid said, adding that stability in the region will help make the whole world safer, including the United States.

"By succeeding here, the whole region will be better. I'm very encouraged by the Iraqi elections. Our success is all a matter of will power and perseverance," Abizaid said. "We have to give the Iraqi people enough time to be able to assume responsibility for their own security."

Abizaid said he has faith in the Iraqi people and their ability to fashion a better nation for themselves. "The Iraqi people are creating revolutionary change in this part of the world," Abizaid told the troops. "This experiment with democracy will succeed, and all your sacrifices will have paid off. The world will be a better, safer place."

The CENTCOM commander also stopped by the brigade motor pool, where he met with mechanics and sought their input about areas that could be improved. He asked them if they were getting all the equipment and parts they needed, if they had enough work uniforms, or if there was anything at all they needed to do their jobs better.

"You guys keep the tanks and the armored vehicles running, so you're saving lives. By keeping them running you're giving your fellow soldiers the tools to get the enemy. You have a very, very important job," Abizaid said. "It's my job to make sure you all have everything you need to be able to do the job that your country is asking you to do. The only reason any of us wear stars on our collars is to be able to help you guys do your jobs."

Abizaid also met with soldiers of the brigade combat team's Battery B, 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment. He also reminded them about the importance of what they are doing.

"It's a good thing you're doing out here. It's an important thing. The people back home, the vast majority of them, really appreciate what you are doing. They know it's dangerous," Abizaid said. "They know it's a tough job. But they also know that on Sept. 11, 2001, 3,000 of our fellow citizens went down because we weren't paying attention. "If it means fighting out here to keep that from happening again, that's what we've got to do.

"The more we keep the enemy off balance by being in their area," he pointed out, "the more difficult it is for them to be planning ways to hit us in our area."

Abizaid reminded the soldiers that they are part of an important moment in the history of their nation and of the world. "It's hard when you are in the middle of it sometimes to see it, but I can tell you what you are doing is very, very important," Abizaid said. "It's just as important as what your fathers and grandfathers did in the Second World War. I thank you."

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Gen. John Abizaid, USA

Related Sites:
U.S. Central Command
Louisiana National Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, signs a souvenir Iraqi flag for members of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, in Baghdad, Iraq, on Feb. 11. Photo by John Valceanu  
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