(CNN) – President Obama said Tuesday his Oval Office address to the nation marking the end of the combat mission in Iraq will not be anything close to the "Mission Accomplished" moment his predecessor had.
"It is not going to be a victory lap," Obama said in brief remarks to troops stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. "We still have a lot of work to do."
In fact, Ft. Bliss has supplied soldiers to Iraq at all stages of the seven-year war and is still sending more troops to the region as part of the 50,000-troop contingent that is staying behind in Iraq to held wind down the war completely.
Obama said his main message to the troops in Texas, and his broader message tonight at 8 p.m. ET, will be simple: "Congratulations on a job well done."
The president, who opposed the start of the war while he was serving as a state senator in Illinois, acknowledged there has long been debate about the merits of the conflict, but he said the focus now should be on the sacrifice of U.S. troops.
"The one thing we don't argue about is we have the finest fighting force in the history world," Obama said, adding that "America is more secure" because of their service.
Obama added that the nation can not forget about the war in Afghanistan and it will be a heavy focus of Tuesday night's speech, which is just the second of his presidency delivered from the Oval Office. The first was about the Gulf oil spill in early June.
"We also have a very tough fight in Afghanistan," Obama said. "It's going to be a tough slog."
Obama also braced the nation for heavy casualties in Afghanistan, noting that with new commanding Gen. David Petraeus now taking the fight directly to the enemy there will be "heartbreak" as troop deaths mount.
White House aides said the president called former President George W. Bush aboard Air Force One on his way to Texas to discuss his speech to the nation this evening, but they declined to provide specifics about the call.
Some Republicans have been calling on Obama to thank Bush for executing the surge of troops in Iraq which is now widely credited with stabilizing the situation. Obama opposed the surge while serving in the U.S. Senate.