…at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar is here. Some highlights:
You see Sunnis who once fought side by side with al Qaeda against coalition troops now fighting side by side with coalition troops against al Qaeda. Anbar is a huge province. It was once written off as lost. It is now one of the safest places in Iraq. (Hooah.) Because of your hard work, because of your bravery and sacrifice, you are denying al Qaeda a safe haven from which to plot and plan and carry out attacks against the United States of America. What you’re doing here is making this country safer, and I thank you for your hard work. (Hooah.)
…I want to tell you this about the decision — about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground — not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media. (Hooah.) In other words, when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure. To do otherwise would embolden our enemies and make it more likely that they would attack us at home. If we let our enemies back us out of Iraq, we will more likely face them in America. If we don’t want to hear their footsteps back home, we have to keep them on their heels over here. And that’s exactly what you’re doing, and America is safer for it.
The President’s comments on his meeting with Prime Minister Maliki and other Iraqi leaders are here.