Bush in Al Anbar Province, Iraq

BushsurpriseIraq.jpg

Photo from AP

As the photo above illustrates, our troops were very excited to see our Commander in Chief when he made a surprise visit to al Anbar Province in Iraq.

During a surprise visit to Iraq, President Bush on Monday addressed an animated military base in what was once a Sunni insurgent stronghold and said it would be possible to reduce troops in Iraq if progress being made there continues.

Bush gave the troops a Labor Day greeting, thanking them for their hard, and often deadly work there. He also sought to assure them that he will be listening to military commanders, not Washington officials, when it comes to decide when to withdraw troops.

“Every day you are successful here in Iraq draws nearer to the day when America can begin calling you and your fellow servicemen home,” Bush said.

Bush received a “hoorah” when he said he would not base his deployment decision on “nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media.”

“When we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure. To do so otherwise would embolden our enemies and make it more likely that they would attack us at home,” Bush said.

Earlier, Bush told reporters that his top deputies there have said it is possible to reduce troops if progress continues.

Bush said he had just received updates from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the two U.S. officials who are to give a highly anticipated report to Congress next week on progress there. He also met with top Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“I was pleased with what I heard. The strategy we put into place earlier this year was designed to help the Iraqis improve their security so that political and economic progress could follow. And that is exactly the effect it is having in places like Anbar,” Bush said.

While noting “we can’t take this progress for granted,” Bush said there is hope that troop levels can be reduced.

“Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces,” Bush said.

Bush stayed for seven hours before taking off again, heading to Australia to attend an economic conference.

Allahpundit posted video of President Bush’s speech to the troops. Note the reception he received, too. They are excited to see him, and it’s obvious from the video that he’s humbled to be with them.

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