Bush Vows Troops Will Not Have Died in Vain
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 4, 2006 President Bush today promised the nation's men and women in uniform he would not allow "the sacrifice of 2,527 troops who have died in Iraq to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done."
President George W. Bush spoke before a crowd of more than 1,000 troops and family members on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 4, 2006. The president assured the troops that the sacrifices made by those who have fallen in the War on Terrorism will not have been in vain. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking at Fort Bragg, N.C., the president said the U.S. strategy in Iraq is clear: to help the Iraqi people build a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself as a free nation,
"Our troops will help the Iraqi people succeed because it's in our national interests," he said. "A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will make America and the world more secure."
Setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal would be a terrible mistake, he said. It would breathe new life into the terrorists' cause, undermine the new Iraqi government and "send a signal to Iraq's enemies that if they wait just a little bit longer, America will just give up."
"Setting an artificial timetable would undermine the morale of our troops by sending the message that the mission for which you've risked your lives is not worth completing," the president said. "... I will make decisions about troop levels in Iraq based on the advice that matters most -- the measured judgment of our military commanders."
The president pledged he would ensure servicemembers have the resources they need to defeat enemies in Iraq and secure the peace for generations to come. U.S. and coalition forces are "winning this war -- and enemies understand that, too," he said.
Winning the war in Iraq will require more tough fighting and more sacrifice, the president said, adding that when the job is done, it will be a major victory in the battle against the terrorists.
"By achieving victory in Iraq, we will honor the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have risked their lives and given their lives for a just and noble cause," Bush concluded.
The president noted that Green Berets of the Army's Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg were the first U.S. forces on the ground in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were also the first coalition forces to arrive on the scene in Iraq after the bombing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's safe house on June 7.
"They administered compassionate medical care to a man who showed no compassion to his victims," the president said. "And when this brutal terrorist took his final breath, one of the last things he saw was the face of an American soldier from Fort Bragg, N.C."
Since then, coalition and Iraqi forces have been on the offense, he said. They've launched more than 190 raids across the country, captured more than 700 enemy operatives and killed some 60 more. They've uncovered caches of weapons and suicide vests and Iraqi army uniforms.
"We've seized new intelligence information that is helping us keep the pressure on the terrorists and the insurgents," Bush said. "And at this moment of vulnerability for the enemy, we will continue to strike their network, we will disrupt their operations, and we will bring their leaders to justice." Last week, he added, Iraqi security forces announced the capture of an al Qaeda terrorist Abu Qadama from Tunisia, one of the men responsible for the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara.
The Iraqi people have formed a new government and the United States will continue working to support it, Bush said.
"When I spoke here a year ago, Iraqis still had a transitional government that was operating under administrative law issued before the restoration of sovereignty," he said. "Today, Iraqis have a permanent government chosen in free elections under a democratic constitution that they wrote and they approved."
Bush said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a courageous leader who has formed the cabinet and laid out a clear agenda for the people of Iraq.
"He's laid out an ambitious plan to improve its economy and deliver essential services and to defeat the enemies of a free Iraq," the president said. "And I told him this: that as he stands up for freedom, the United States of America will stand with him."