President Bush says U.S. tactics in Iraq are constantly evolving, but the goal of defeating terrorists and insurgents remains the same. For a second consecutive day, the president discussed strategies in Iraq with US military commanders.
Mr. Bush says recent weeks have been "rough" for U.S. forces in Iraq, amid a spike in sectarian violence in the country. But, in his weekly radio address, the president said retreat is not an option.
"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: Our goal is victory," he said. "What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal. Our commanders on the ground are constantly adjusting their approach to stay ahead of the enemy, particularly in Baghdad."
Earlier, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed Iraq strategy with the commanders of U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also took part. Administration officials say such meetings are held weekly and do not signify any shift in U.S. policy to Iraq is imminent.
The administration's emphasis on operational flexibility comes amid the deadliest month for U.S. troops serving in Iraq to date. At least 75 U.S. military deaths have been reported in the country since the beginning of October. U.S. commanders have conceded that renewed attempts to quell sectarian bloodletting in Baghdad are proving unsuccessful. A U.S. general recently described the situation as "disheartening."
In his radio address, President Bush attributed the spike in violence to US and Iraqi security operations, as well as efforts by terrorists and insurgents to influence U.S. public opinion and undermine domestic support for the effort in Iraq.
In the Democratic Party's weekly radio address, a candidate in next month's congressional elections from Connecticut said the United States needs a "new direction in Iraq" that includes establishing clear goals for Iraq's government and security forces that will pave the way for an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.