Good morning. On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home
after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news
to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: their mission is complete
and major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Our coalition is now engaged
in securing and reconstructing that country. The United States and our allies
Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision,
speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before.
From distance bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could
destroy an enemy division or strike a single building or bunker. Marines
and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground in one
of the swiftest mass advances of heavy arms in history. The world has seen
the might of the American armed forces.
In this victory, America received valuable help from our allies. This weekend,
I am hosting Australian Prime Minister John Howard at my ranch in Crawford,
Texas. Prime Minister Howard has been a strong ally in the war on terror,
and Australian forces have played an important role in the liberation of
Iraq. Australian Special Forces entered Iraq with their American and British
counterparts at the very beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They helped
to secure sites in western Iraq that could have been used to launch scud
missiles. And they disrupted Iraqi troop movements and command posts, paving
the way for Army and Marine units making their way to Baghdad.
Australia FA-18 fighters carried out deep bombing runs in Iraq. The Australian
Navy worked with British forces to take control of the Faw Peninsula. Australian
Navy divers cleared mines in the port of Umm Qasr, opening sea lanes to deliver
humanitarian assistance. And Australian transport planes delivered emergency
supplies and equipment for Iraqi hospitals.
All told, about 2,000 Australian service members contributed to the destruction
of Saddam Hussein's regime and the liberation of the Iraqi people. All Australians
can be justly proud of the superb performance of Australian's air, naval
and Special Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. America is deeply grateful
for their important contributions.
Our coalition still has much work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to
parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding
leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We
have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons at hundreds
of locations. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces
for himself, instead of hospitals and schools for the people. And we will
stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by
and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy is
hard, and will take time -- but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will
stay until our work is done, then we will leave -- and we will leave behind
a free Iraq.
The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that still goes on.
al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist
networks still operate in many nations. And we know from daily intelligence
that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly
weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and
neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend
our homeland and, more importantly, we will continue to hunt the enemy down
before he can strike.
No act of terrorists will change our purpose or weaken our resolve or alter
their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory.