President Bush, who faces a tough re-election ballot in just 10 weeks, portrayed the ongoing occupation of Iraq in optimistic terms Monday even as the U.S. death toll nears 1,000. "We're making progress on the ground," Bush said about Iraq, where Marines are engaged in fierce battles with followers of a radical cleric holed up in the holy city of Najaf. Bush spoke at his Texas ranch after spending more than three hours mapping defense strategy with his top national security advisers. "We talked about Iraq the way forward in Iraq, the way to help the Iraqis get to elections" by January, Bush said. Democrat John Kerry's national security adviser accused the president of not doing enough to make the nation safer, especially in view of recommendations from the bipartisan commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "It has been nearly three years since the 9/11 attacks yet we are clearly not as safe as we could or should be," Rand Beers said in a statement Monday. "The violence in Iraq is clearly spiraling upward. July was more deadly than June and it looks like August will be an even more deadly month than July. Yet, George Bush remains silent on any plans he has to quell the violence in Iraq and bring our troops home." Bush told reporters that he and his advisers had also discussed repositioning troops around the world and reforming intelligence, informs ABC NEWS. According to the Times of India, US army officials have said that it could take upto 10 years to crush the insurgency in Iraq, which has shown no signs of letting up since the transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government. American officials had expected the violence to drop after Iraqis regained control of their government on June 28 in the belief that Iraqi security forces would be better at gathering intelligence and support for militants would erode. But continuing attacks suggest that it will take time, possibly years to crush the insurgency, the officials were quoted as saying by USA Today . President George W Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have said the US forces will stay in Iraq as long as they are needed to assist Iraqi security forces. "If we have the political will and stamina to stay, I could see this going on for 10 years," says Randoldph Gangle, a retired officer who heads the Marine Corps' Centre for Emerging Threats and Opportunities. Tacticians have counselled patience in winning the war. "If we can stay the course over here for another year or so, the insurgency will wear itself out," says Col Dusty Rhoades, a marine intelligence officer in Iraq. "The US military is currently in a position where it is militarily impossible for us to lose, but only an Iraqi government can totally win," he said.
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