U.S. troops making progress in Iraq

Published 2:47 am Sunday, December 4, 2005

By Staff
Progress in Iraq
The men and women of the United States armed forces fighting in Iraq are serving with bravery and dedication. They need and deserve our full support.
Calls for early withdrawal of our troops are counterproductive to the war on terror and to the hopes of the Iraqi people. We continue to see success and progress in this new democratic country.
When asked about withdrawing American troops, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, &#8220Timing of the handover of responsibility to Iraqis depends on conditions on the ground, and already some responsibilities are being assumed by the Iraqi security forces. We must be careful not to give terrorists the false hope that if they can simply hold on long enough that they can outlast us.”
Iraqis are increasingly taking control of their country, and Iraqi security forces are continuing to make progress. As of Oct. 31, 2005, a total of 210,400 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped.
Their progress has truly been amazing. In August 2004, five Iraqi army battalions were joined in the war effort; today there are 95. There was no ready operational Iraqi army division or brigade headquarters in July 2004, and now there are more than 36 battalions capable of leading operations.
These Iraqi forces are gaining in experience and battlefield capability. Ninety-two percent of checkpoint operations in north-central Iraq were either conducted entirely by Iraqi forces or led by Iraqi forces. Nearly half of the combat patrols in Baghdad are conducted entirely by Iraqi forces or led by Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi people are beginning to place their confidence in these security forces. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of intelligence tips made by Iraqis. The number of intelligence tips provided to coalition forces regarding insurgent activities has risen from 480 tips in March to more than 3,300 in September.
Iraqi casualties are at around four times the level of U.S. casualties, and yet Iraqis continue to sign up for the army and police forces. They are willing and eager to fight for the future of their own country.
Political successes are also continuing to emerge from Iraq. In October, the world witnessed millions of Iraqis voting to approve their new constitution. Sixty percent of registered voters took part in this referendum on a rare day of peace as insurgents largely suspended their attacks.
This month an even larger turnout is expected as Iraqis will again go to their polling places to vote for Iraq's new parliament.
Even Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has recognized the progress being made. In a letter to his al Qaeda associates, he warned that &#8220our future is becoming frightening.”
Under Saddam Hussein, there was no freedom of speech or the press. Today, there are 44 commercial television stations, 72 commercial radio stations and more than 100 independent newspapers. Internet subscribers have risen from 5,000 before the war to 196,000 in September.
Last week President Bush presented a clear plan for victory in Iraq. The &#8220National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.”
The president's strategy calls for coalition forces, along with Iraqi forces, to clear terrorists from the cities and territories they are holding. Iraqi security forces are being trained to hold the secured areas. These military victories will be secured by building democratic institutions and the foundations of a prosperous economy.
There are some in Congress who are now calling for the United States to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq as soon as possible, but the president made it clear our troops cannot immediately withdraw from Iraq.
Our troops and the American people have made enormous sacrifices. We have lost more than 2,000 soldiers since the war began. This is a huge price to pay, but the consequences of inaction are even greater.
We must continue to help the Iraqis fight the terrorists in Iraq, so that we do not have to fight them in the United States.
As the Iraqi forces continue to grow and become better trained and more experienced over the next year, we expect the number of American troops to decrease.
Quitting this mission will only put our country at greater risk and invite more violence by terrorists.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents the people of this area in the U.S. H ouse of Representatives.

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