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Bush: US Will Not Relent Until Terrorist Threat Removed - 2004-02-17

President Bush says America will not relent until the terrorist threat is removed. The president spoke to a crowd of cheering troops at a military base in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana.

The White House says the president went to Fort Polk, Louisiana, to lift the spirits of the troops.

He apparently succeeded, with thousands of soldiers in uniform shouting, applauding and cheering their commander-in-chief. "We have removed from power enemies of this country. We have made America more secure", he said.

About 10,000 troops from Fort Polk have taken part in the war on terrorism, and about a dozen have been killed in Iraq. President Bush said their work is vital, reassuring them that American will not be intimidated by violence, and the war on terror will be won. "The will of this country is strong. The will of our coalition is strong. What we have begun, we will finish," he said.

The president spoke at length to the troops, providing them with an update on the war. But this was a visit more about images than words.

It gave Mr. Bush an opportunity to highlight his record on national security, while surrounded by a large group of enthusiastic men and women in uniform. He also was shown having lunch with a group of National Guard members, who will soon be heading for Iraq.

The White House says the luncheon meeting was planned weeks ago, before new questions emerged about the president's own National Guard service.

Mr. Bush enlisted in the Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War, and like most guardsman at the time, served in the United States on a part-time basis. Critics have charged that he did not complete all his service obligations, prompting the White House to release hundreds of pages of documents that officials claim show George W. Bush fulfilled his National Guard requirements.