The president Bush secretly flew 12 hours to Al-Assad air base in a remote part of Anbar province, bypassing Baghdad in a symbolic expression of impatience with political paralysis in the nation’s capital. The gesture underscored the U.S. belief that the spark for progress may come at the local level.
The temperature topped 110 degrees as Bush stepped off Air Force One. The president stopped at a small building where a Marine Cobra pilot briefed him about the positives and negatives of current troop rotations. He told the president that troops were not getting enough time at home and did not have enough time for training.
– “Morale?” asked Bush. “How’s morale?”
– “Very high sir,” the pilot, Capt. Lee Hemming, said.
© Charles Dharapak/AP