President Bush says American troops have rescued two nations, Iraq and Afghanistan and are sacrificing in the cause of freedom. Mr. Bush offered America's thanks.

It was a personal thank you to the troops from their commander-in-chief.

"You have endured the heat of the Persian Gulf and the harsh winters of central Asia. You are serving with honor and pride. You are making our country safer and your country is proud of you," he said.

At a time when many members of the armed forces are facing long deployments abroad, Mr. Bush went out of his way to stress the importance of their mission. Seeking to boost the morale of the troops, he focused on the contribution they are making to their nation and the world.

"You have missed your families. Your families miss you. Some of you have lost comrades, good men and women you will never forget. And America will never forget them either," he added. "You are sacrificing greatly for our country. And our country has needed that sacrifice."

The president acknowledged there will be more violence in the weeks ahead in Iraq, as sovereignty is transferred to an interim Iraqi government, emphasized a better future is coming into view, vowing insurgents will not block the path to democracy.

"Their greatest fear is an Iraqi government of, by and for the Iraqi people," he said. "And no matter what the terrorists plan, no matter what they attempt, a democratic free Iraq is on the way."

President Bush spoke from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. It is the home of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is also the site of the coalition village, which houses military liaisons from more than 60 countries involved in the war on terrorism.

Thousands of soldiers gathered in a sweltering hangar to hear Mr. Bush, with big screens at the base showing pictures of troops watching and listening abroad. After the address, the president got a private briefing from military officials and met with the families of 10 soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.