Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Bush highlights Iraqi bomb menace

THREAT US President George W. Bush said yesterday that Iraqi insurgents knew they couldn't defeat the US military and were increasingly resorting to improvised bombs


US President George W. Bush said yesterday the greatest threat to US troops -- and to the future of a peaceful Iraq -- are remote-controlled, homemade bombs that terrorists hide in cars or set along roads.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said terrorists in Iraq know they cannot defeat the US military so they have resorted to using lethal improvised explosive devices, which are the leading killer of US troops in Iraq.

The president was receiving a briefing yesterday about the devices from Montgomery Meigs, a retired general who is heading a Pentagon organization with a multibillion-dollar budget to find ways to counter the threat.

"We're harnessing every available resource, the ingenuity of our best scientists and engineers, and the determination of our military to defeat this threat -- and we're not going to rest until this danger to our troops has been removed," Bush said in his broadcast.

Troops are receiving more extensive training on how to spot the bombs, which sometimes are buried or hidden inside animal carcasses. But Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who also will be at the briefing, said on Friday there are no new technological breakthroughs to report to the president at this time.

Bush's radio broadcast comes ahead of his speech tomorrow on Iraq, the first in a series of talks he will give to mark the three-year anniversary of the US-led invasion. In the speech, Bush will discuss US strategy in defeating terrorists and training Iraqi security forces.

He said Iraqi security forces performed well after the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite mosque, which led to the killing of 500 people and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

"Immediately after the attack, Iraq's leaders came together and acted to restore calm and end the violence," Bush said.

"They deployed Iraqi security forces to Baghdad and other areas threatened by violence. These forces moved rapidly and effectively to protect religious sites, enforce a curfew and re-establish civil order where necessary," he said.

Bush said the goal is to have Iraqis control more territory than US-led coalition forces by the end of the year. As Iraqis assume responsibility over more territory, coalition forces will be able to concentrate on hunting down top terrorists, he said.

Bush advisers say the upcoming speeches -- three this month and possibly more next month -- will be similar in tone to a series of talks the president made back in December to help turn public opinion on the war in his favor.

With nearly daily reports of car bombings, kidnappings and executions, Bush said he understands why many Americans wonder whether the mission was worth it.

According to the latest AP-Ipsos poll 77 percent say they think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Seventy percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats felt that way.

People are evenly split on whether they think a stable, democratic government will be formed in Iraq, according to the poll taken earlier this month.

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