May 22, 2008 — -- President Bush spoke about victory in Iraq today in front of a group of 17,000 soldiers at Fort Bragg, many just returning from 15-month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The vision for success in Iraq that I just outlined will not come easily. There will be tough fighting ahead. But the progress is undeniable. Because of your bravery and your courage, the terrorists and extremists are on the run, and we are on our way to victory," Bush said Thursday.
Bush's reference to victory -- a word he hasn't often used lately -- came on the same day that his newly appointed commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Patraeus, spoke with cautious optimism on Capitol Hill.
The president criticized the war funding bill making its way through Congress this week but stopped short of threatening a veto. He called on Congress to pass "a responsible war funding bill" and touted the success of the surge policy that brought increased troop levels to Iraq.
"We should be able to agree that our troops deserve America's full support," Bush told the paratroopers.
He called for a war funding bill that "does not tie the hands of our commanders and gives our troops everything they need to complete and accomplish the mission."
Fort Bragg is the home of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the president noted the 82nd Airborne Falcon Brigade were the first troops in when the surge began, and he touted the success of the surge. "Across Iraq, violence is down. Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down and attacks on American forces are down. You did the job we sent you to do. You have returned home on success and all of America is proud of the 82nd Airborne," Bush said.