Troop surge is working
Published 12:15 am Monday, January 14, 2008
It was one year ago this month that Pres. George W. Bush announced he would send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq as part a new counterinsurgency strategy, known as “The Way Forward in Iraq.”
Under the leadership of a new commander on the ground, General David Petraeus, the troop surge ignited a vigorous debate in Washington about whether the injection of forces would truly be able to make a difference.
Members of Congress began declaring our efforts in Iraq to be all but lost, and the new majority in Congress initiated efforts to undermine the ability of troops to succeed in their mission.
Just days before the president announced the surge, the top two Democratic leaders in Congress – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - declared that “adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans.”
The House went so far as to spend 36 hours debating a nonbinding resolution on the war - in which all members on both sides of the aisle were provided an opportunity to speak on a resolution that had no force of law behind it. Numerous attempts were also made to tie the funding for our military men and women to arbitrary goals and deadlines.
These naysayers have now been proven wrong. Although much of the mainstream media has largely chosen to ignore the progress achieved by the surge of American forces in Iraq, in the one year since the troop surge began, conditions in Iraq have improved significantly and much has been accomplished.
Just 12 months ago, the Anbar Province was all but lost to terrorism. Since then, the leaders and citizens of Anbar have opposed al Qaeda and rejected its Taliban-like ideology.
At a Pentagon press conference last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that U.S. and Iraqi forces have nearly “cleared” Anbar of al Qaeda and other insurgents.
Secretary Gates announced that nine of the nation's 18 provinces are under control of Iraqi security forces. Basra is the most recent province to be put back under control of the Iraqi security forces.
In his end-of-year letter to troops in Iraq, General Petraeus stated that civilian deaths are down about 75 percent from a year ago.
When President Bush first announced the surge, he stated the objective of the mission was “to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the population and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.”
Admittedly, political progress in Iraq has been slow, but the objectives of the surge as outlined by the president are being met. Our forces have made extraordinary achievements and sacrifices; however, the successes of the past year will not bring an immediate end to the violence in Iraq.
The surge has quelled the terror and chaos that marked daily life in Iraq just one year ago. General Petraeus' strategy is working, and we must sustain this momentum. The hard and difficult work of our troops, the leadership of General Petraeus, and commitment of the president have provided the Iraqis opportunity for freedom and the country's government to succeed.
Bonner serves in the house of representatives anc can be reached at www.bonner.house.gov.