President Bush rallied U.S. troops in the southern state of South Carolina Friday. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, some of those new soldiers are headed for Iraq.
President Bush says the war in Iraq is critical to America's security and will be won.
"By taking the fight to the enemy in Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists there so we do not have to face them in the United States," he said.
Speaking to soldiers and their families at an Army basic training center in South Carolina, the president again linked the war in Iraq with the terrorist attacks of 2001, saying the same forces responsible for that violence are now in Iraq plotting future attacks.
The president is trying to rebuild public support for what has become an unpopular war. The latest CBS News poll says a majority of Americans believe invading Iraq was a mistake and more than two thirds now disapprove of the president's handling of the war.
Dissatisfaction with Iraq helped opposition Democrats gain control of Congress earlier this year, but they have so far failed to force the president to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Mr. Bush says he will not be swayed by political concerns when it comes to fighting terrorism.
"I want to assure the loved ones here of something, and I want to assure those who wear the uniform of something: I will make decisions about our troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan based upon the considered judgment of those who wear the uniform not based upon a Gallup poll or political party considerations," said President Bush.
The president says his decision earlier this year to send reinforcements to Iraq is beginning to show results. As Iraqi forces take more responsibility for their own security, Mr. Bush says more American troops will gradually be withdrawn.
Nearly 6,000 Americans are expected home by the end of the year. Further cuts in 2008 could leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq.