Even so, Gen. Peter Pace, warned that battling terrorism will be a long war.
Speaking at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Pace said he is often asked if the United States would be better off by ending the fight and leaving Iraq.
"There is no option other than victory," he said. "You need to get out and read what our enemies have said ... Their goal is to destroy our way of life."
Pace spoke a day after President Bush used a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy – and a 35-page White House report – to spell out what he called his strategy for victory in Iraq.
Mr. Bush's plan contained no new approaches and no start date for withdrawing U.S. troops. He urged patience, claimed steady progress and vowed to accept nothing less than "complete victory."
Democrats dismissed the administration's presentation as little more than a public relations exercise, reports CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on Thursday said the president was ignoring "the realities on the ground" as military leaders have described them to Congress.
"The large presence of American troops in Iraq gives credence to the notion of occupation and in fact delays the willingness and ability of Iraqi troops to stand up," Kerry said on NBC's "Today" show.
"Until the president really acknowledges that that large presence is part of the problem, and begins to set a benchmark process for transferring responsibility to the Iraqis, we're going to continue with more of the same," he said.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California embraced a call by a prominent defense hawk in her party, Rep. John Murtha, to begin a troop withdrawal. "The status quo is not working," Pelosi said.
And Murtha, a decorated Vietnam war hero, told a civic group in his home state of Pennsylvania that he believes most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year. He also said that he thinks the Army is "broken, worn out" and might not be able to meet future national security needs, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Thursday.
Before Mr. Bush spoke Wednesday, the White House released the report, titled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," (.pdf) outlining the administration's rationale, strategy and measures of progress.
"Even according to the White House's own document, we are a long way from victory," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
By next year, Mr. Bush said, U.S. commanders expect the Iraqi security forces to be able to assume more of the direct combat roles now performed by U.S. troops.
"We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists," Mr. Bush said. "We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate and conduct fewer patrols and convoys."