Posted by Curt on 20 March, 2006 at 5:07 pm. 1 comment.


Just got finished reading the Presidents speech today, and wow! What a good one.

He first started with an example of one town in Iraq that had been occupied by Al-Qaeda. He explained how we adapted our methods of getting rid of them and then making the town safer, something that cannot be shown in a 2 minute story on CNN (not like they would show a success story anyways):

So today I’d like to share a concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers or on their television screens. I’m going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for Al Qaida and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq.

Tal Afar is a city of more than 200,000 residents, roughly the population of Akron, Ohio. In many ways Tal Afar is a microcosm or Iraq. It has dozens of tribes of different ethnicity and religion. Most of the city residents are Sunnis of Turkoman origin.

Tal Afar sits just 35 miles from the Syrian border. It was a strategic location for Al Qaida and their leader, Zarqawi.

Now, it’s important to remember what Al Qaida has told us — their stated objectives. Their goal is to drive us out of Iraq so they can take the country over. Their goal is to overthrow moderate Muslim governments throughout the region. Their goal is to use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America.

To achieve this goal, they’re recruiting terrorists from the Middle East to come into Iraq, to infiltrate its cities, and to sow violence and destruction, so that no legitimate government can exercise control.

And Tal Afar was a key way station for their operations in Iraq. After we removed Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the terrorists began moving into the city. They sought to divide Tal Afar’s many ethnic and religious groups and forged an alliance of convenience with those who benefited from Saddam’s regime and others with their own grievances.

They skillfully used propaganda to foment hostility toward the coalition and the new Iraqi government. They exploited a weak economy to recruit young men to their cause. And by September 2004, the terrorists and insurgents had basically seized control of Tal Afar.

We recognized the situation was unacceptable so we launched a military operation against them.

After three days of heavy fighting, the terrorists and the insurgents fled the city. Our strategy at the time was to stay after the terrorists and keep them on the run. So coalition forces kept moving, kept pursuing the enemy and rooting out the terrorists in other parts of Iraq.

Unfortunately, in 2004, the local security forces there in Tal Afar weren’t able to maintain order, and so the terrorists and the insurgents eventually moved back into the town.

[…]They control the only hospital in town. You see that the mayor and other political figures are collaborating with the terrorists. You see how the people who work as interpreters for the coalition forces are beheaded. You see a popular city councilman gunned down in front of his horrified wife and children. You see a respected sheik and an imam kidnapped and murdered. You see the terrorists deliberately firing mortars into playgrounds and soccer fields filled with children. You see communities becoming armed enclaves. If you’re in a part of Tal Afar that was not considered friendly, you see that the terrorists cut off your basic services like electricity and water.

You and your family feel besieged and you see no way out.

The savagery of the terrorists and insurgents who controlled Tal Afar is really hard for Americans to imagine. They enforced their rule through fear and intimidation, and women and children were not spared.

In one grim incident, the terrorists kidnapped a young boy from the hospital and killed him, and then they boobytrapped his body and placed him along the road where his family would see him. And when the boy’s father came to retrieve his son’s body, he was blown up.

These weren’t random acts of violence. These were deliberate and highly organized attempts to maintain control through intimidation.

He then explained how the Iraqi and Coalition forces adapted their approach to the problem, instead of going in and kicking the enemy out and then leaving, they stayed behind to rebuild the town:

[…]Instead of coming in and removing the terrorists and then moving on, the Iraqi government and the coalition adopted a new approach called clear, hold and build. This new approach was made possible because of the significant gains made in training large numbers of highly capable Iraqi security forces.

Under this new approach, Iraqi and coalition forces would clear a city of the terrorists, leave well-trained Iraqi units behind to hold the city, and work with local leaders to build the economic and political infrastructure Iraqis need to live in freedom.

[…]Iraqi forces took the lead. The primary force was 10 Iraqi battalions backed by three coalition battalions.

Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battlespace, hunting for the enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block by block.

Throughout the operation, Iraqi and coalition forces were careful to hold their fire to let civilians pass safely out of the city.

By focusing on securing the safety of Tal Afar’s population, the Iraqi and coalition forces began to win the trust of the city’s residents which is critical to defeating the terrorists who are hiding among them.

After about two weeks of intense activity, coalition and Iraqi forces had killed about 150 terrorists and captured 850 more.

The operation uncovered weapons caches loaded with small arms ammunition and ski masks, RPG rockets, grenades, machine-gun ammunition and fuses and batteries for making IEDs.

In one cache, we found an axe inscribed with the names of the victims the terrorists had beheaded.

And the operation accomplished all this while protecting innocent civilians and inflicting minimal damage on the city.

After the main combat operations were over, Iraqi forces moved in to hold the city. Iraqis’ government deployed more than 1,000 Iraqi army soldiers and emergency police to keep order. And they were supported by a newly restored police force that would eventually grow to about 1,700 officers.

As part of the new strategy, we embedded coalition forces with the Iraqi police and with the army units patrolling Tal Afar to work with their Iraqi counterparts and to help them become more capable and professional.

In the weeks and months that followed, the Iraqi police built stations throughout Tal Afar, and city residents began stepping forward to offer testimony against captured terrorists and inform soldiers about where the remaining terrorists were hiding.

Inside the old Ottoman fortress, a joint coordination center manned by Iraqi army and police and coalition forces answers the many phone calls that now come in through a new tip line. As a result of the tips, when someone tries to plant an IED in Tal Afar, it’s often reported and disabled before it can do any harm.

The Iraqi forces patrolling the cities are effective, because they know the people, they know the language and they know the culture. And by turning control of these cities over to capable Iraqi troops and police, we give Iraqis confidence that they can determine their own destiny, and that frees up coalition forces to hunt high- value targets like Zarqawi.

[…]The success of Tal Afar also shows how the three elements of our strategy in Iraq — political, security and economic — depend on and reinforce one another.

By working with local leaders to address community grievances, Iraqi and coalition forces helped build the political support needed to make the military operation a success.

The military success against the terrorists helped give the citizens of Tal Afar security, and this allowed them to vote in the elections and begin to rebuild their city.

And the economic rebuilding that is beginning to take place is giving Tal Afar residents a real stake in the success of a free Iraq.

And as all this happens, the terrorists — those who offer nothing but destruction and death — are becoming marginalized.

The strategy that worked so well in Tal Afar did not emerge overnight.

BUSH: It came only after much trial and error. It took time to understand and adjust to the brutality of the enemy in Iraq.

Yet the strategy is working. And we know it’s working because the people of Tal Afar are showing their gratitude for the good work that Americans have given on their behalf.

[…]I believe that as Iraqis continue to see the benefits of liberty, they will gain confidence in their future and they will work to ensure that common purpose trumps narrow sectarianism.

And by standing with them in their hour of need we’re going to help the Iraqis build a strong democracy that will be an inspiration throughout the Middle East, a democracy that’ll be a partner in the global war against the terrorists.

The kind of progress that we and the Iraqi people are making in places like Tal Afar is not easy to capture in a short clip on the evening news. Footage of children playing or shops opening and people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an IED explosion or the destruction of a mosque or soldiers and civilians being killed or injured.

The enemy understands this, and it explains their continued acts of violence in Iraq.

Yet the progress we and the Iraqi people are making is also real, and those in a position to know best are the Iraqis themselves.

He then goes on to read a eloguent and heart warming letter from the mayor of that town:

One of the most eloquent is the mayor of Tal Afar, a courageous Iraqi man named Najin. Mayor Najin arrived in the city in the midst of the Al Qaida occupation, and he knows exactly what our troops have helped accomplish.

He calls our men and women in uniform “lionhearts.” And in a letter to the troopers of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, he spoke of a friendship sealed in blood and sacrifice.

As Mayor Najin had this to say to the families of our fallen: “To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead but alive, and their souls are hovering around us every second of every minute. They will not be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child and in every flower growing in this land.

“Let America, their families and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.”

Finally he spoke about this War on Terrorism and what it means to our future:

The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was a difficult decision. The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision.


Before we acted, his regime was defying U.N. resolutions calling for it to disarm. It was violating cease-fire agreements, was firing on American and British pilots which were enforcing no-fly zones.

Saddam Hussein was a leader who brutalized his people, had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction and sponsored terrorism.

Today, Saddam Hussein is no longer oppressing his people or threatening the world. He’s being tried for his crimes by the free citizens of a free Iraq, and America and our allies are safer for it.


BUSH: The last three years have tested our resolve. The fighting has been tough. The enemy we face has proved to be brutal and relentless. We’re adapting our approach to reflect the hard realities on the ground. And the sacrifices being made by our young men and women who wear our uniform has been heartening and inspiring.

The terrorists who are setting off bombs in mosques and markets in Iraq share the same hateful ideology as the terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, those who blew up the commuters in London and Madrid, and those who murdered tourists in Bali or workers in Riyadh or guests at a wedding in Amman.

In the war on terror, we face a global enemy. And if we were not fighting this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and trying to kill Americans across the world and within our own borders.

Against this enemy there can be no compromise. So we will fight them in Iraq, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

In the long run, the best way to defeat this enemy and to assure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We’ve seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before.

In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed. And today Germany and Japan are democracies, and they are allies in securing the peace.

In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Central and Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. And today these nations are strong allies in the war on terror.

In the Middle East, freedom has once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sew anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated.

Freedom will prevail in Iraq. Freedom will prevail in the Middle East.

And as the hope of freedom spreads to nations that have not known it, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.

The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.

Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their citizens on their own, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks against our nation.

There will be more days of sacrifice and tough fighting before the victory is achieved. Yet by helping the Iraqis defeat the terrorists in their land, we bring greater security to our own.

As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will continue to take more responsibility for their own security and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission.

But it’s important for the Iraqis to hear this: The United States will not abandon Iraq. We will not leave that country to the terrorists who attacked America and want to attack us again. We will leave Iraq, but when we do, it will be from a position of strength, not weakness.

Americans have never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now.

An important speech and from what I can tell from other bloggers he was great during the answer and question segment. Will cover that in another post, this one is long enough already but I thought this was too important of a speech to not blog about.

We are winning this war in Iraq, do not let the left lose this war at home.

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