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REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AFTER MEETING WITH
SENIOR U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OFFICIALS
ON IRAQ
 
The Pentagon
 
 
…     Yesterday, the Secretary and the Vice President and General Pace and I were on the SVTS with General Casey, and he’s talking about the hard work our troops and Iraqi troops are doing to defeat these enemies.  
 
     I do want to say something to those who wear our uniform.  The men and women in uniform are always on my mind.  I am proud of them.  I appreciate their sacrifices.  And I want them to know that I am focused on developing a strategy that will help them achieve their mission.  Oh, I know there’s a lot of debate here at home, and our troops pay attention to that debate.  They hear that I am meeting with the Pentagon or the State Department or outside officials, that my National Security team and I are working closely with Iraqi leaders, and they wonder what that means.  Well, I’ll tell you what it means.  It means I am listening to a lot of advice to develop a strategy to help you succeed.  
 
     There’s a lot of consultations taking place, and as I announced yesterday, I will be delivering my — my plans, after a long deliberation, after steady deliberation.  I’m not going to be rushed into making a difficult decision, a necessary decision, to say to our troops, we’re going to give you the tools necessary to succeed and a strategy to help you succeed.  I also want the new Secretary of Defense to have time to evaluate the situation, so he can provide serious and deliberate advice to me.
 
     I do want our troops to understand this, though:  that this government and this group of military leaders are committed to a strategic goal of a free Iraq that is democratic, that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself, and be a strong ally in this war against radicals and extremists who would do us harm; secondly, that our troops deserve the solid commitment of the Commander-in-Chief and our political leaders and the American people.  
 
     You have my unshakable commitment in this important fight to help secure the peace for the long-term.  I pledge to work with the new Congress to forge greater bipartisan consensus to help you achieve your mission.  I will continue to speak about your bravery and your commitment and the sacrifices of your families to the American people.  We’re not going to give up.  The stakes are too high and the consequences too grave to turn Iraq over to extremists who want to do the American people and the Iraqi people harm.  
 
     I thank you for your service.  I’m proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.  We’ll honor the sacrifices you are making by making sure your children and grandchildren can grow up in a more peaceful world.
 
     God bless.  
 



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