Bush: Success in Iraq Critical in Global Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
"Iraq is a part of the global war on terror," the president told reporters today during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. It's a message he said Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, underscored repeatedly during his visit here last week for briefings with U.S. and congressional leaders.
"We're facing people who have got a vision of the world which is opposite of ours," Bush said. "They like the idea of being able to find safe haven in a country like Afghanistan so they can plot attacks. They like the idea of killing innocent people to shake our will. That's what they're trying to do."
Bush insisted that the terrorists won't succeed. "We're not leaving Iraq," he said. "We will succeed in Iraq," he said, citing the coalition's dual-track strategy for victory that addresses both political and security challenges.
As the constitutional and election processes move forward, Iraq's security forces are also making solid progress, he said.
Security efforts follow two tracks, not only teaching Iraqis basic military skills, but also developing command-and-control capabilities within Iraqi forces, the president said. "It's one thing to have people able to march," he said. "It's another thing to have the capacity to send them into battle in an organized way."
Bush credited U.S. servicemembers embedded in Iraqi units with helping build that leadership capability.
More than 80 Iraqi army battalions are currently fighting alongside coalition troops, and more than 30 battalions are "in the lead" of military operations, the president said. "That is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago," he said, noting "more and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy."
Bush called that progress important to the goal of "a stable, democratic Iraq that is an ally in the war on terror."
"There is no doubt in my mind that we will succeed in Iraq and lay the foundation for peace for generations to come," he said.
Bush used today's news conference, which addressed issues ranging from his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to support to Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims and the fight against terrorism, to encourage Congress to pass legislation revalidating certain powers within the Patriot Act that soon will expire without congressional action.
Calling the Patriot Act "one of the most important, effective tools for safeguarding our country," Bush said it's effective because it authorizes law enforcement officers to use the same tools they already use to fight organized crime and drug dealers to confront terrorists.
"Congress needs to recognize that terrorist threats won't expire," he said, "so they need to send me a bill that reauthorizes the Patriot Act."
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