President George W. Bush discussed the Global War on Terror with about 1,100 attendees at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force March 27. The president spoke for about 40 minutes, thanking Airmen for their role in the fight against terrorism and outlining the need for continued support of Iraq.

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Bush Greets Military Personnel at Wright-Patt
President George W. Bush greets U.S. military personnel on his arrival to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Thursday, March 27, 2008, in Ohio. White House photo by Eric Draper.

“The Air Force was critical in liberating the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq, and taking the fight to the enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home,” said Bush in his opening remarks.

The President’s speech focused on the importance of the United States continuing its military and economic aid to Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi people and remove a regime that threatened free nations.

Air Force One touched down on the flight line at 9:40 a.m. The president was met by the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Gen. Bruce Carlson. Prior to departing for the museum, President Bush presented the President’s Volunteer Service award to 1st Lt. Robert Goodreau, from the Aeronautical Systems Center here. President Bush also met with Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez Jr., from the 88th Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Rodriguez recently was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries received while assigned to Camp Bucca, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During his speech at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, President Bush said Airmen are adding to the tradition of the great aviators honored by this museum.

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Bush Delivers Speech on War on Terror at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
President George W. Bush addresses his remarks on the Global War on Terror Thursday, March 27, 2008, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. White House photo by Eric Draper.

“The work that today’s generation is doing is every bit as challenging, every bit as noble, and every bit as vital to our security as any that came before,” the president said. “When the history of this era is written, it will show that the Air Force — and all of Americans’ Armed Forces — performed with unfailing skill and courage. It will show that the United States of America prevailed, freedom advanced, and so did peace.”

President Bush noted that military achievements in Iraq have been accompanied by a political transformation.

“It can feel like distant history, but it was only five years ago that Iraq was one of the most brutal dictatorships on Earth — a totalitarian nightmare where any election was a sham, and dissenters often found themselves buried in mass graves,” he said. “In a matter of 15 months, the Iraqi people reclaimed their sovereignty. They went on to choose an interim government, and to ratify the most democratic constitution in the Arab world. And in December 2005, 12 million Iraqis elected a government under that constitution, a display of courage that defied the terrorists, disproved the critics, and should always inspire the world.”

The president acknowledged that progress threatened to unravel in 2006, in part due to extremists using violence to create divisions among Iraqis and within the United States.

“We took a hard look at the situation, and responded with the surge,” President Bush explained. “This dramatic shift in policy had two primary goals. The first was to improve security conditions. So I ordered 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines into Iraq, and gave them a new mission: to focus on protecting the Iraqi people, and to hold the gains that had been made.

“The second goal of the surge was to open up space for political and economic progress after security returned,” he continued. “So we deployed additional civilian experts and more than doubled the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, with a mission to ensure that security gains were followed up by improvements in daily life.

“The surge is doing what it was designed to do,” President Bush said. “It’s helping Iraqis reclaim security and restart political and economic life. It is bringing America closer to a key strategic victory in the war against these extremists and radicals.”

He noted that Iraq wants to solidify its relationship with the United States and Iraqi leaders have requested to form a long-term strategic partnership.

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Bush Addresses Crowd of Over 1,000 at Museum
President George W. Bush waves to applauding audience members following his address on the Global War on Terror Thursday, March 27, 2008, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. White House photo by Eric Draper

“This partnership would help assure Iraqis that political, economic and security cooperation between our nations will endure,” President Bush said. “This partnership would also ensure protections for American troops when the United Nations mandate for Multi-National Forces in Iraq expires in December.

“This partnership would not bind future presidents to specific troop levels,” he continued. “This partnership would not establish permanent bases in Iraq. It would be similar to partnerships that we have with Afghanistan and other free nations around the world. My administration will work to complete this strategic partnership in the coming months. The Iraqi people have chosen to stand with America against our common enemies. And it’s in our interest that we stand with them.”

In closing, President Bush said Airmen are among the many patriots who uphold America’s highest ideals

Story by John Scaggs, Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs . Edited by Beavercreek Record staff.

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