By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 30, 2007 - President Bush will meet with defense leaders in the Pentagon tomorrow to continue the dialogue on operations in Iraq, a Joint Staff official said here today. Army Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, an operations specialist on the Joint Staff, said Bush would receive the "unvarnished" advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a session in "the Tank" – the room where the organization meets.
The assessments lead up to the report the president will deliver to Congress by Sept. 15.
The president's meeting with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates continues the president's fact-gathering mission, and Bush wants to hear from all concerned, Sherlock said.
Military leaders will present and discuss their assessments of the future, and the meeting also will include Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, the U.S. Central Command chief, and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq.
"They will have the ability to provide their recommendations and unvarnished assessments to the president so he is completely informed and able to make the decisions he needs to make," Sherlock said.
The officers' assessments will come from their individual perspectives, Sherlock said. Petraeus will make his recommendations from his perspective as commander in Iraq, and Fallon will make his from the Central Command perspective. The service chiefs will make their assessments with an eye on their "man, train and equip" service duties. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will make his recommendations from his position as the military advisor to the president and defense secretary.
Sherlock said more meetings will follow the president's Pentagon visit.
In Iraq, U.S. forces remain committed to dismantling terror cells that seek to kill innocent Iraq men, women and children and the coalition and Iraqi security forces that protect them, Sherlock said.
He said coalition and Iraqi forces are setting the conditions for the Iraqis to improve governance. In just the past week, the municipal government has re-emerged in Karma, two Iraqi basic training classes with 2,000 soldiers are under way in Habbaniyah, and 700 new police officer are in training at the Habbaniyah Police Academy.
Sherlock said that attacks in Iraq continue to decline. "They've declined for several weeks now, except for one or two high-profile attacks such as in Ninewah," he said. "Overall casualties, overall attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces and overall attacks against Iraqi civilians continue to decline."
He warned, however, that a number of factors may dare the enemy to increase attacks. With the pending report to Congress, the beginning of Ramadan next month, and the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, "we can expect the enemy to try to accomplish more high-profile, highly visible attacks to flavor how those reports are received," he said.