By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
July 24, 2007 - President Bush today praised the progress U.S. servicemembers are helping to make in Iraq and urged support and patience as they continue hunting down terrorists intent on creating a safe haven there. "For the security of our citizens and the peace of the world, we must give General (David H.) Petraeus, (commander of Multinational Force Iraq) and his troops the time and resources they need, so they can defeat al Qaeda in Iraq," Bush said during an address at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
Bush paid tribute to the U.S. servicemembers he said are fighting terrorists overseas so the United States won't have to face them at home. The fight hasn't been easy or without sacrifice, he acknowledged. It's a "tough fight," he said, but one that's "noble and necessary for our peace."
The president noted the contributions airmen at Charleston Air Force Base, "Team Charleston" and their loved ones are making toward this effort.
During the liberation of Afghanistan, air crews from Team Charleston flew hundreds of sorties to transport troops and deliver supplies and help the liberation of 25 million people, he said. The Charleston airmen are providing similar support in Iraq, too, as C-17 Globemaster III aircraft carry tons of vital supplies every day to troops on the front lines.
"Your efforts are saving lives, and you're bringing security to this country," Bush said. "Every member of Team Charleston can take pride in a great record of accomplishment. America is grateful for your courage in the cause of freedom, and your courage is needed."
Bush recognized the sacrifices military families are making as well. "Our military families endure the separations. They worry about their loved ones. They pray for safe return," he said. "By carrying out these burdens, our military families are serving the United States of America, and this country is grateful to America's military families."
Together, servicemembers, their families and the American people are standing strong against terrorism because giving in to terrorists is no option, the president said. "However difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it," he said. "And we can win it."
Bush cited progress in Anbar province, al Qaeda's former base in Iraq that was written off by many as lost. "Since then, U.S. and Iraqi forces have teamed with Sunni sheiks who have turned against al Qaeda," he said. "Hundreds have been killed or captured. Terrorists have been driven from most of the population centers."
U.S. troops are working to replicate that success in other parts of Iraq. "Our brave men and women are taking risks and ... showing courage," Bush said. "And we're making progress."
The president urged patience as that progress continues and told airmen represented at Charleston that he's counting on them to make it happen. "Every man and woman who serves at this base and around the world is playing a vital role in this war on terror," he said. "With your selfless spirit and devotion to duty, we will confront this mortal threat to our country -- and we're going to prevail."