Leaving Iraq the Right Way with the Successful Standup of the Iraqi Army

Mar 21, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), senior Republican for the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following commentary regarding his recent fact-finding trip to Iraq:

Mission success in Iraq is found in the following: an Iraqi government that 1) is freely elected 2) is a friend of the U.S. 3) will not be a state sponsor of terrorism for the coming decades.

The elected government of Iraq has stood up through the magnificent efforts of the nearly one million American servicemen who have served in that dangerous theater.  The effort has been an unprecedented exercise in nation building.  G.I.s and Marines have, at once been mayors, teachers, doctors, builders, electricians, technicians, diplomats and much more, moving far beyond their traditional war-fighting roles.

For those who have been distracted by the plethora of “what went wrong” books, the “what went right” saga, upon genuine review is the real story of Iraq 2003 to 2007.

Consider the following: 1) take a nation with a population long trained by firing squads to accommodate dictators 2) place that nation (complete with a dictator known for his mass graves and gassing of mothers and babies) in a neighborhood bordered by terrorist sponsors Syria and Iran 3) arm the dictator with over 400,000 soldiers, including 6 armored divisions and about 100,000 elite Republican Guard troops.

Now, ask the question: what are the chances that four years later the nation will be operating under a fragile, but feely elected government with a substantial chance at an enduring democracy?

Few gamblers would take the bet that such a success for America’s long-term interests could occur.  Yet it could.  And unless liberal Democrats persuade our nation to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, we will succeed. 

The elected government of Iraq is clumsy, inept, and plagued with corruption, as are many such new governments.  Yet it was founded on free and fair elections.  Further, its officers have avoided the precipice as they successfully achieved such crucial milestones as cabinet assembly and constitution enactment.

For the critics who express or imply that a “smooth road” was available for the invasion, occupation and democratization of Iraq, several matinee movies involving Camelot-like fairy-tales can be recommended.  But Iraq is real life.  It is full of the brutality and harshness of people who inflict oppression without remorse, and the agony of those who but for America, would quietly accept it. 

Iraq is the real life story of the most courageous, most innovative, most disciplined people of modern times…the American military.  And most importantly, it is the story of American military leaders who know how to win.  They are currently heavily engaged in the second step of nation building: standing up a military capable of protecting their free government.

General David Petraeus and his team of winners, like General Ray Odierno, are building the security apparatus that will allow the Iraqi government to stumble forward for the next several years until it finds its stride.

The “Baghdad Stability Plan,” divides the capital into 10 sectors.  In these sectors, an Iraqi force, predominate in numbers by three to one over its American partners is, with U.S. units, clearing the neighborhoods of sectarian violence.

In volatile Anbar Province, U.S. Marine commanders have brought together Shiite army brigades and Sunni police forces to push back al-Qaeda in Fallujah and Ramadi.  The work is hot, dirty, and dangerous.

Under Petraeus’ leadership, his team of America’s finest is custom-making solutions for communities desperate for stability.  The Marine and Army trainers are now living with and fighting beside their Iraqi counterparts in forward command centers.  This commitment reflects the core credo of America’s military: they refuse to lose this battle for stability. 

All the while, the 129 battalions that comprise the Iraqi Army are maturing at varying rates. 

The battle-hardening of Iraq’s forces requires one element in large supply: battle.  Every one of Iraq’s 129 battalions should be rotated through a three month operational tour in a contentious zone, such as Baghdad, or Fallujah.   The U.S. should receive the commitment from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to such a rotation.

This battlefield experience will strengthen the chain of command and build unit cohesion and professionalism in Iraq’s armed forces.  After such “battle-hardening,” the Iraqi battalions can rotate into the space occupied by U.S. ground units which, thus relieved can be moved back to the U.S. or other missions designated by American military commanders. 

This is the right way for the U.S. to move off the battlefield of Iraq.  When it is completed, this expedition for freedom in the most hostile area of the world will be judged as the most important action for American interests in the history of the Middle East.

The blood and sweat of our fighting forces have moved us to the threshold of success in Iraq.  The road behind has been rocky, as is the road ahead.  But the elected government of Iraq will hold.  Their military will mature and our forces will leave with a new ally in the region.  Only the liberal leadership of Congress can defeat the U.S. military at this point. 

As for these liberal Democrats, let’s hope that their better angels prevail and that they take on for just a moment, the policy of the great Democrat, Senator Henry Jackson: “in foreign policy, the best politics is no politics.


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