Petraeus-Crocker report presented by Congress

Published 9:54 am Monday, September 17, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
General David Petraeus, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, last week provided Congress a very candid assessment of the security situation in Iraq.
General Petraeus, a man who knows the enemy in Iraq as well as anyone, made it clear that real progress has been made in stabilizing the country. While, the American people are justifiably frustrated with the overall progress in Iraq – most notably the slow progress on the political front – our brave troops have made enormous strides in quelling the violence throughout Iraq.
Make no mistake – our efforts in Iraq have been painful but absolutely necessary. While many Americans have grown tired of our military men and women carrying the load of securing and stabilizing Iraq, there is no doubt, these brave troops have done yeoman's work to quell the violence throughout Iraq.
In his testimony before the House last week, General Petraeus stated, "In recent months, in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena."
"Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in eight of the past 12 weeks, with the number of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006."
General Petraeus went on to state that the troop surge has dealt "significant blows" to al-Qaeda in Iraq, gaining initiative in many areas.
I was encouraged to hear from the general that, "Iraqi elements have been standing and fighting and sustaining tough losses, and they have taken the lead in operations in many areas."
In fact, there are nearly 140 Iraqi Army, National Police, and Special Operations Forces Battalions participating in the effort, with 95 capable of taking the lead in operations.
I was deeply troubled that some would seize upon the hearing as an opportunity to impugn the impeccable reputation of General Petraeus, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate this past January.
On the day of his testimony, the liberal activist group,, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times asserting that "General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us" before ever hearing a word of his report.
His assessment is, without a doubt, our most accurate and authoritative evaluation from the front line. I am convinced now more than ever that President Bush picked the absolute right man at the time to lead our forces in Iraq.
Ambassador Crocker laid out the consequences if America is allowed to fail in this mission. He said, "I am certain that abandoning or drastically curtailing our efforts will bring failure, and the consequences of such a failure must be clearly understood.
"An Iraq that falls into chaos or civil war will mean massive human suffering – well beyond what has already occurred within Iraq's borders. It could well invite the intervention of regional states, all of which see their future connected to Iraq's in some fundamental way."
Later in the week, in an address to the American people, the president endorsed the strategy outlined by General Petraeus. Due to the tactical success achieved over the past several months, the president announced that 5,700 troops will return home by the end of the year with five brigades returning by next July.
The president stated, "Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late. They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to al Qaeda. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win."
The current strategy in Iraq is working. With an improved security situation, I remain hopeful the Iraqis can make meaningful progress toward the establishment of institutions that underpin a democratic society and seize the gift of democracy that our military men and women have so bravely provided.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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