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American Forces Press Service

Petraeus Addresses Multinational Force Iraq Troops Upon Taking Command

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2007 – Iraq is at a pivotal crossroad, the new commander of Multinational Force Iraq said in a letter to the command’s troops today.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus took command of all U.S. forces in Iraq today during a ceremony at Camp Victory, in Baghdad. “The stakes could not be higher,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Multinational Force Iraq troops and civilians. “Our task is crucial.”

Security is the essential component needed for Iraqis to build a better future, and U.S. troops will help them achieve that goal, Petraeus wrote. “Shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi comrades, we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people,” he stated in the letter. “The hopes of the Iraqi people and the coalition countries are with us.”

Petraeus said Iraq’s enemies would continue to try to undermine U.S. and Iraqi efforts to rebuild the country.

“Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq,” he said. “We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly.”

There will be difficult times in the coming months, the general said. “But hard is not hopeless, and we must remain steadfast in our effort to help improve security for the Iraqi people,” he said.

In the end, it is up to the Iraqis to decide the outcome in their country, Petraeus said, but he expressed confidence U.S. troops will continue to fight with skill and courage. “We will face down the terrorists, insurgents, and criminals who slaughter the innocent,” he wrote.

The general also expressed his appreciation for the sacrifices made by U.S. troops and their families.

“I appreciate your sacrifices and those of your families,” he said. “Now, more than ever, your commitment to service and your skill can make the different between victory and defeat in a very tough mission.”

Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the man Petraeus replaced in Iraq, is slated to become the next Army chief of staff.

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