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Bush:  US Making Progress Against al-Qaida - 2002-03-08

President Bush says U.S. forces are making "great progress" in their battle against al-Qaida fighters in eastern Afghanistan.

The president said Friday the U.S. led coalition plans to keep up the battle against terrorism inside and outside the country.

With tears in his eyes, President Bush consoled the families of two servicemen killed in combat this week, saying he will give the U.S. military what it needs to defeat terrorism.

"I know your heart aches, and we ache for you," the president said. "But your son and your brother died for a noble and just cause."

U.S. Sergeant Bradley Crose and Specialist Marc Anderson were killed in combat Monday during the ongoing Operation Anaconda which is targeting regrouped al-Qaida fighters near the Afghan town of Gardez.

Families of the servicemen were in the front row Friday when Mr. Bush spoke at a semiconductor plant in the southern state of Florida. He said there will be more battles like Operation Anaconda until the U.S. led coalition wins its fight against terrorism.

"I do know we are making great progress. I do know that anytime we find al-Qaida bunched-up like that, we will get them. And there is going to be more battles like this one and the American people just need to understand that the best way to secure our homeland is to bring them to justice and to get 'em and that is exactly what is happening as we speak," Mr. Bush said. "Our military is tough, our coalition is strong. And by the way, we are fighting fierce fighters. These people evidently don't want to give up."

Mr. Bush said it is okay if the al-Qaida fighters do not want to give up. He said U.S. forces will adjust and their enemies will realize they have made a mistake.

President Bush said he does not know if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is in the current combat zone, but he cautioned people not to judge the success of the fight against terrorism by focusing on an individual, elevating that person to a status the president says Mr. bin Laden does not deserve.