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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 31, 2007
President Bush Meets with Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff
In Focus: Iraq
In Focus: Defense
The Vice President and I met today with Secretary of Defense Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We had a very productive discussion.
We discussed our commitment to provide our military all it needs to meet the challenges of this new century. This includes a larger Army and Marine Corps. In January, I accepted Secretary Gates' recommendation to increase the overall strength of the two services by 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years. This will strengthen our military and help reset our forces to respond to multiple contingencies around the world at any given moment. The effort is well underway, but there is more to do, and the Joint Chiefs are doing a terrific job monitoring the health of our all-volunteer force.
We also discussed military and civilian coordination. We now have joint civilian and military teams deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines. In Iraq, we have more than doubled the number of civilian-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams this year, most of which are embedded with U.S. combat brigades. These teams are a force multiplier for our men and women in uniform, and they are essential to the "bottom up" political progress taking place in Anbar, Diyala, and other provinces across Iraq. The Civilian Reserve Corps now being developed will enlarge the pool of civilian volunteers to support and enhance our missions.
The American people will soon hear an assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq and recommendations from Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. This status report comes less than three months since our new strategy became fully operational and will assess what is going well, what can be improved, and what adjustments might be made in the coming months. Congress asked for this assessment, and members of Congress should withhold judgment until they have heard it.
The stakes in Iraq are too high and the consequences too grave for our security here at home to allow politics to harm the mission of our men and women in uniform. It is my hope that we can put partisanship and politics behind us and commit to a common vision that will provide our troops what they need to succeed and secure our vital national interests in Iraq and around the world.
I always leave these meetings inspired by our men and women in uniform and resolved to do everything I can to support them. The brave men and women of our Armed Forces and their families are making heroic sacrifices to secure our country. America will honor these sacrifices by ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a more peaceful, just, and democratic world.
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