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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 3, 2008

President Bush Meets with Lieutenant General Ray Odierno

  Presidential Remarks

The Oval Office

2:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: General Ray Odierno served for 30 months in Iraq. He's nominated to Vice Chairman of the Army.* And I asked him to come in for several reasons. One, I wanted to thank him. And in thanking the General, I'm really thanking everybody who has worn the uniform and served in this war against the extremists and terrorists. And in thanking the General, I'm also thanking Mrs. Odierno, and every wife or every husband whose spouse has been far away from home and is serving.

And in listening to the General, I was listening carefully to make sure that the decisions that had been made were the right decisions, and that the progress that's being made is real. This is a man who was there when times looked grim and a man who observed firsthand progress that was made as a result of the surge.

He is a straightforward fellow who gave me his candid advice on how best to proceed -- not necessarily with troop levels because that study is going on now, but in making sure that we continue programs such as what's called the CERP money. This is money for our commanders to make -- to help these local folks rebuild and reconcile.

And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq. You were the -- you and General Petraeus were a unbelievably strong one-two combination.

And my call and my assurance, sir, is that the gains that you and your teams have made will continue on, because stakes in Iraq are essential for peace, essential for freedom and essential for the security of this country. I'm honored to be your Commander-in-Chief.

END 2:13 P.M. EST

*Lieutenant General Odierno was nominated to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

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