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Bush Cautions Iraq War Could Be 'Longer, More Difficult'

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2003 – President Bush today praised the efforts of U.S. and coalition service members in Iraq, but cautioned that the campaign may take some time to conclude.

"A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted," the president pointed out during his weekly radio message to the nation.

American and coalition forces have begun a concerted campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein, Bush said, noting that more than 40 countries are involved.

The ouster of Saddam, he said, will greatly contribute to the cause of world peace and security.

"And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism and to free the Iraqi people," the president pointed out.

America's service men and women "are doing their job with skill and bravery," Bush declared, noting that American troops involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom have the "finest of allies beside them."

"At every stage of this conflict the world will see both the power of our military and the honorable and decent spirit of the men and women who serve, he added.

Saddam and his minions "have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality," the president said. Iraqi troops and equipment have been positioned in civilian areas, Bush stated, making human shields of innocent men, women and children.

"I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm," the president said.

America will assist the Iraqis in establishing "a united, stable, and free country," Bush remarked. But right now, Iraqi people who want to live in a free country are depending on U.S. and coalition military forces.

U.S. troops in the Middle East "are conducting themselves in the highest traditions of the American military," the president declared. And, all across America, he added, people are praying for their safe return.

The whole nation appreciates the sacrifices made by military families, Bush said, noting that many citizens who live near military families are helping in areas such as child care and home repairs.

"All families with loved ones serving in this war can know this: Our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done," the president emphasized.

America and her allies didn't want a war with Saddam, Bush noted. But Americans and their allies "will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder," he asserted.

Bush said the only way to shorten the war now being fought in Iraq is to apply decisive force.

"This will not be a campaign of half-measures," he explained. "It is a fight for the security of our nation and the peace of the world, and we will accept no outcome but victory."

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