Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror


December 28, 2007

A lot of trees have died for newsprint about the success of the "surge" of troops into the chaos of the old Iraq, but reports are thin on details (except for the fine work of milbloggers who are embedded with the troops).

First, the media pronounced the war lost. Then in July, when it became apparent that the change of strategy by Gen. David Petraeus is achieving measurable victories, the mainstream media became strangely mute.

Now the storyline is that the armchair generals, talking-head pundits on cable-clown shows, editorial writers and opinion makers knew all along that Iraq would stabilize, but it was because of the efforts of "others" and not U.S. military forces. Exactly who the "others" are depends on which left-wing anti-American chin-wagger needed some face time on TV.

I have just returned from an American base in Kuwait (unidentified for security purposes) where I spent a good chunk of time talking to soldiers and officers who were transiting home for the Christmas holidays, and others who are returning in theater. During perpendicular rainstorms that turned desert talcum-powder sand into packed mud, I interviewed hundreds of Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force officers, as well as coalition forces from Australia, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan. A highly pixilated image of what is happening is now visible to even the naked eye.

First, it's important to understand what the "surge" isn't rather than what it is. It isn't flooding Iraq with hundreds of thousands of more soldiers. It is keeping in place thousands of experienced troops for extended deployments of up to 15 months. That means the Petraeus strategy is operationally implemented by the people who know it, live it and adapt for it.

So exactly how is progress as dramatic as an 80 percent reduction in civilian attacks in Baghdad possible? How did it happen that murders in the provinces have decreased by 90 percent, and IED incidents have declined by 70 percent, according to Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the commander of MND-Baghdad just last week?

At a separate briefing in Baghdad for Danny Gonzalez, Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee, and Mary Pearson (Move America Forward's delegation in Iraq) Lt. Col. Crider, Maj. Baer, and others attached to the 1/4 Cavalry say it is as simple and as complex as putting boots on the ground in the most dangerous neighborhoods, 24 hours a day. Soldiers began knocking on doors and asking to speak to people inside, inquiring about who they are and what their lives are like, and what needs to be done better. The locals needed to feel that they had someone on their side who cared about them. There is a high level of humanitarian outreach, undercutting the black market that al-Qaida created, providing trash pick-up and handing out small grants to foster business.

Locals began to trust Americans more than they did the terrorists. The level of reporting on al-Qaida activity is through the roof with actionable intelligence that our guys can use to find and kill terrorists.

The downside to this strategy is that the long deployments away from home and family are exhausting our guys. Many are complaining to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and the word around Washington is that the extended deployments will be coming to an end shortly.

Another aspect of the Iraq war that inflames those of us who have supported it from the beginning is the media coverage.

I was in Iraq in 2005 when things were not going as well, but the media was focusing on every bomb blast instead of the long-term work that preceded the surge – re-building or building new infrastructure, putting down roads, schools, orphanages and strengthening security around the oil fields.

Matt Sanchez, a fellow columnist at WND and embedded milblogger, explains that at the height of the war, there were only 30 journalists for a country the size of California. Right now, there are 17.

There were more reporters covering "Burning Man" in the Nevada desert than a major conflict that will decide the power structure in the Middle East for decades to come. The media has failed in its responsibility to society, while our military has shined in its efforts.

Military commanders are quick to point out that we aren't out of the woods yet – al-Qaida is still trying to re-constitute its cells, and solidify power in certain Baghdad neighborhoods and outlying provinces. Al-Qaida wants to take over the Middle East, then move on to the rest of the world.

The terrorist organization claims credit for assassinating former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a woman who faced the radical Muslim monsters to support Democracy. Al-Qaida and their fellow terrorists could not tolerate a strong woman like Bhutto, the first woman elected as leader of a post-colonial Muslim state.

Do not be mistaken: Pakistan, which has nukes, is critical to the United States' efforts to protect itself from radical Muslim jihadists. One officer I interviewed said terrorists are sneaking to the Pakistan border, and that is problematic for American and world security.

America isn't doing Iraq a "favor" by fighting this war. It is in our national interest to flush out and kill terrorists and defend the civilian population to create a stable country and a beachhead against savages who send bombs strapped to the bodies of children, and behead sympathizers of peace.

Stepping off a Boeing 767 earlier this week and back onto American soil left me breathless with gratitude to the service of our soldiers, and the man who heroically leads them – Gen. David Petraeus.

History will record that Gen. Petraeus is the Man of the Year, the decade, and even longer. Too bad Time magazine doesn't get it. But then, Time still won't give back the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the wonders of communism under Joseph Stalin.