WASHINGTON - Acknowledging that "our enemy is far from being defeated," President Bush assured U.S. troops Wednesday that he would come up with a better plan for victory in Iraq.
"I've heard some ideas that would lead to defeat, and I reject those ideas - ideas such as leaving before the job is done," Bush said after a Pentagon briefing. "We're not going to give up. The stakes are too high and the consequences too grave to turn Iraq over to extremists."
The president's comments offered clues to his thinking as he prepares to announce a revised policy for Iraq early next month. He said he's looking for a plan that combines military action, political reconciliation, economic development and diplomatic efforts to get more help from Iraq's regional neighbors.
The resolute tone of his remarks may have delivered his clearest message: Standing with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Bush assured U.S. troops that he has no intention of leaving Iraq until they finish the job of establishing a stable democracy.
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Speaking directly to the troops, he declared his "unshakable commitment" to his goals for Iraq. "We're going to give you the tools necessary to succeed," he said, "and a strategy to help you succeed."
That was in stark contrast to the tone of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's report, unveiled last week. Its opening words: "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating."
The panel said most U.S. combat troops could be out of Iraq by early 2008, and it urged Bush to make Iraqis responsible for their security as soon as possible.
Although Bush said he found "some good ideas" in the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, his analysis differed from the panel's findings.
Bush described a fight pitting allied U.S. and Iraqi forces against "the enemy" - which he defined at one point as "terrorists and insurgents and death-squad leaders." The study group said U.S. troops face a complex mix of spreading sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis; anti-American insurgents; and a relatively small number of al-Qaida terrorists.
The group's report also made clear that sectarian militiamen have infiltrated Iraq's military and police units and that many soldiers and police are more loyal to radical clerics than to the central Iraqi government.
Record corrected by agency
To dispute one criticism from the Iraq Study Group's report, the Defense Intelligence Agency is pulling back the curtain on concealed information and disclosing the number of analysts devoted to Iraq. The count: 300-plus, with 49 analysts focused exclusively on the insurgency.
Last week's report from the Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, said DIA has fewer than 10 analysts with more than two years of experience studying the insurgency.
"Capable analysts are rotated to new assignments, and on-the-job training begins anew," the findings of the 10-member bipartisan commission said.
In a statement, DIA said it had to correct the record.
"The Defense Intelligence Agency has more than 300 dedicated analysts focused on the many complexities of Iraq," said the statement sent late Tuesday. "They include a core cadre of 49 analysts focused exclusively on the insurgency, at least half of whom have more than two years experience working this issue."
The Associated Press