15 August 2007

What have we forgotten?

We are at war with Al Qa’ida. They have attacked us over and over and over again before 9/11 (www.haveweforgotten911.com). Our nation had had enough (about time) and we launched a campaign to defeat this terror. Just killing them (we do this well) does not work – that is just like kicking the ant mound (see “Fire Ants” below)… we must change the environment in the region. That is what we are attempting to do in Iraq.

Peace and democracy is not easy to create from a dictatorship – in a region that has only known conflict and little essential services infrastructure. The American military leaders here work seven days a week; 17-18 hours a day; short meal breaks; every moment of the day accounted for… even getting briefing while moving from one meeting to another; out with the Soldiers; for 15 months with only one two week vacation – on top of getting shot at or experience incoming indirect fire every week... But on TV, who do you see more... reporters and politicians who visit only for a few days? It that where you have formed your opinion from?

There are many Soldiers that never leave the Forward Operation Base (FOB) in Iraq, and some that when they do leave, are just moving from one place to another (no interaction with the population). These jobs are well respected, dangerous and very much required for our military to operate, but their blogs are also not where you should derive your opinion on this mission from. Get the “ground truth” from the military leaders that are fully engaged in the complete spectrum of this process.

I have the opportunity to converse to both the senior leaders of Iraq and the common citizens of Baghdad every week… There are incredibly excellent reasons for you to be extremely proud of this mission and how your Soldiers are going about to be successful.

While there is a distrust of virtually anything the US administration says about Iraq, real military progress (both combat and economic projects) is taking place and the US State Department in Baghdad is actively seeking matching political progress. Additionally, a substantial numbers of tribal leaders have turned against Al Qa’ida; the number of total attacks/events has gone way down; murder (both crime and sectarian) rates are at a fraction of the numbers from last year; the massive increase of actionable tips from Iraqi citizens; more of Baghdad is secure than ever; and the US causality numbers have been cut in half.

I admit, like the “drug war”, it will be virtually impossible to fully defeat terrorism – but ask anyone that has lost a family member or friend to drugs or a terrorist act if what we do to limit the impact is worth it… and if we should have been doing more sooner.

Al Qa’ida does not care if it loses every battle – only that they just survive until we give up. Thank God American public support is increasing a bit now for patience in favor of success in this mission. I think this is partly because they see we are “winning”; but more because our eyes are being opened to what our world can be if we lose.


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