President Bush urges patience with Iraq as war enters sixth year

Wednesday, March 19th 2008, 3:01 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

PENTAGON -- As the war in Iraq enters its sixth year, President Bush is calling it a noble, just and necessary battle.

In a speech at the Pentagon this morning, Bush said the troop increase he ordered last year has turned the situation in Iraq around, but speeding the pace of withdrawals could undermine it.

The U.S. has about 158,000 troops in Iraq. That number is expected to drop to 140,000 by summer. Since the troop increase and with a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and a cease-fire declared by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the number of attacks have declined, particularly in Baghdad.

Bush hailed those developments as "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden." And he said it's leading the way toward what he called "a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror."

The last Oklahoma soldier to be killed in Iraq was private 1st class Michael Phillips of Ardmore. Phillips was killed February 24, 2008 when his Humvee was hit by a homemade bomb near Baghdad. 

The 19-year-old was a member of the 101st Airborne based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Visit NEWS 9's extended coverage of the state's fallen heroes since 2003.