"The stakes for our country could not be higher," the president said at a Pentagon ceremony. "We face enemies that measure their progress by the chaos they inflict, the fear they spread and the innocent lives they destroy."
"America's military is standing between our country and grave danger," he president proclaimed.
The massive military spending bill includes a salary and hazardous duty pay increase for troops.
Mr. Bush spoke before leaving town for a holiday week at his ranch in Texas. On the way, he made a stop at Fort Carson, Colo., where he will meet privately with families of some of the troops killed in the war, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer.
Fort Carson has lost 27 soldiers in Iraq, including five this
month alone. Four victims were among 16 soldiers killed after their
helicopter was shot down Nov. 2 near Fallujah.
"We're standing for order and hope and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq," the president said in Washington. "We're standing up for the for security of all free nations and for the advance of freedom. The American people and your commander in chief are grateful," Mr. Bush said, "and we will support you in all your central missions."
Mr. Bush was to have lunch at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, and visit with families of soldiers killed in Iraq. Families at Fort Carson, which has sent 12,000 troops to Iraq, generally have supported the war effort, but there have been voices of concern.
Harriet Johnson of Cordova, S.C., the mother of Spc. Darius T. Jennings, one of the Fort Carson soldiers who died in the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, said she was upset that Mr. Bush did not stop to speak with her family when he was in South Carolina earlier this month.
"I understand he may not be able to talk to each one of them direct," she said. "He was in my hometown. Something should have been said."
On the other hand, the stepfather of Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas Slocum, who was killed in Iraq on March 23, said he believes Mr. Bush takes responsibility for the U.S. casualties, which have topped 400. "If President Bush were go to every family, it would take too much of his time, and if he sees one, he has to see them all," said Stan Cooper of Thornton, Colo.
Among other things, the defense bill before him at the Pentagon:
The president ends the day at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he will observe Thanksgiving with family members.
On Tuesday, he makes a day trip to Las Vegas for a campaign fund-raiser and a speech on Medicare at Spring Valley Hospital, followed by similar appearances in Phoenix.