ABC News’ Jon D. Garcia reports: After defections on Iraq this week from lawmakers in his own party, President Bush defended the military’s strategy in his weekly radio address this morning. The President’s optimistic viewpoint echoed similar remarks made in a speech at the US Naval War College two days ago.
He cited signs of progress that have been made since the completion of a troop surge earlier this month. "We’re still at the beginning of this offensive, but we’re seeing some hopeful signs," Bush said. "We’re engaging the enemy, and killing or capturing hundreds."
Other accomplishments Bush cited included a decrease in suicide attacks and car bombings over the past two months, a significant increase in discovery of arms caches since last year, and a reduction in sectarian murders since January. The president did not refer to the Pentagon report of 230 American deaths in April and May, the deadliest two-month period since the start of the war.
The increase in troops, according to Bush, will help the military achieve its goal of making Iraq a country that "respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law and is an ally in the war on terror."
In anticipation of the Fourth of July, the president tied his defense of the troop surge with sacrifices the signers of the Declaration of Independence made and acknowledged the hardships troops and their families have faced since the start of the surge. Bush cited the example of Luke Yepsin, college-aged Marine from Texas who died in combat six months ago, and thanked those currently serving in the armed forces.
"On this Fourth of July, we remember Luke Yepsen and all the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in this struggle," Bush said.