Ending IED Threat Remains Top Priority, President Says

By Tech. Sgt. Elaine Wilson, USAF
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2006  - Crude, homemade bombs hidden in cars or by the side of the road pose the biggest threat to U.S. servicemembers and the future of a free Iraq, President Bush said today in his weekly radio address.

"As we take the fight to the terrorists, they realize they cannot defeat us directly in battle, so they have resorted to brutal attacks against innocent Iraqis and American forces using improvised explosive devices," he said.

Bush said he is dedicating "every available resource, the ingenuity of our best scientists and engineers and the determination of our military to defeat this threat."

"We face an enemy that will use explosive devices in order to shake our will, in order to foment violence in Iraq, in order to try to convince the American people that we can't win in Iraq," Bush said. "We're not going to rest until this danger to our troops has been removed."

With this goal in mind, Bush said his administration has established a new high-level command at the Department of Defense, led by retired Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs, former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe and NATO's peacekeeping force in Bosnia. The Joint IED Defeat Organization comprises representatives from all services as well as retirees, all dedicated full-time to defeating the IED threat.

"The general has spent a lot of time thinking about the enemy's tactics and techniques and how our military can adjust to them," Bush said during remarks to the press earlier today, after the latest in a series of IED briefings at the White House.

The briefings from Meigs, along with input from commanders and Pentagon experts, "let me know what we're doing, so I can let the American people know that we recognize the nature of this enemy. We're addressing our tactics to defeat this enemy for the sake of peace, for the sake of the security of the United States of America, and for the sake of peace in the world," the president explained.

Bush said he plans to inform the public about America's strides in the war during a series of speeches this month, as the nation marks the three-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 19. The speeches will address the nation's strategy for victory in Iraq, progress made, lessons learned, and "how we're fixing what has not worked," the president said.

Bush's first speech, scheduled for March 13, will focus on the security element of the nation's strategy, the task of defeating terrorists and training Iraqi security forces.

The president gave a preview of his speech during his radio address.

"The Iraqi security forces have made great strides in the past year," Bush noted. "And they performed well after the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra."

The mosque, Bush explained, is one of Shiia Islam's holiest sites. After it was bombed, bands of armed militia exacted revenge, with attacks on Sunni mosques and acts of random violence that killed hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

"Immediately after the attack, Iraqis' leaders came together and acted to restore calm and end the violence," Bush said. "These forces moved rapidly and effectively to protect religious sites, enforce a curfew and re-establish civil order when necessary. We commend them for their good work."

Bush said the Iraqi security forces' performance was proof that "our hard work to build up and train these forces is paying off."

The goal, Bush said, is to have the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition forces by the end of the year. "By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America," the president said.

"The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people," he continued. "This will require more difficult days of fighting and sacrifice. Yet I am confident that our strategy will result in victory, and then our troops can come home with the honor they have earned.

Bush said that amid the daily news of car bombs, kidnappings and brutal killings, he understands that Americans are wondering if the entire mission was worth it. "I strongly believe our country is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power," he said.

"The last three years have tested our resolve," he continued. "The fighting has been tough. The enemy we face has proved to be brutal and relentless. And the sacrifice being made by our young men and women who wear the uniform has been heartening and inspiring."