Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Uh Oh, More Good news from Iraq

Warning, this post may challenge your preconceived notions about who is winning the Iraq War. A Perfect Contradiction cannot be held responsible for any spontaneous aneurysm that may result from the actual truth reaching your brain.

Lets start off with:

Downturn in violence, increased confidence
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD — Violence is down in Iraq and Iraqis “are starting to see this growth and gaining new confidence,” a coalition spokesman said.

Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters at a news conference that the decrease in violence has created an opportunity for new progress.

Combined efforts between coalition forces and Iraqi fighting forces have brought down the level of violence in the Iraqi capital, Caldwell said.

“Iraqi forces are getting better each day, and are demonstrating the commitment needed to defend the government and the people,” he added.
Read more.

If the surge is working, and it clearly is, then why are the Democrats so hell bent on pulling out of Iraq before victory is achieved? The answer, of course, is they want us to lose the Iraq war. They don't see a loss in Iraq as an American loss, they see a loss in Iraq as a political loss for the Republicans, George Bush in particlar. Their hatred of the right is so pervasive and so perverse that they are willing to sacrifice the lives of potentially millions of Iraqi's in order to achieve their short term political goals. But I digress, back to the progress in Iraq.

On the home front, after 4 years of decidedly negative media coverage, the MFN is reaching out directly to the American people, via You Tube.
Coalition operations on YouTube
Combined Press Information Center

YouTube users around the globe are tuning in for a unique view of the Multi-National Force – Iraq mission. It is the same view those on the ground have during combat and support operations.

Army officials here launched the military coalition’s channel on the popular video-sharing Web site March 7 and, 10 days later, are reporting more than 15,000 channel views and have passed 39,000 total views of the video clips currently posted.

“We launched this channel as a way to help tell the complete story about what coalition forces are doing in Iraq, but even we have been surprised by the high level of interest it has generated,” said Brent Walker, webmaster for www.mnf-iraq.com and the new channel’s supervisor. “It is exciting that people are responding to this footage. It shows people have a genuine interest in developing a more informed perspective on what is happening in Iraq.”

The initiative has attracted attention from several media sources and bloggers across the Internet, which is helping to drive up the channel’s viewership, Walker said.

“There are increasing numbers of people every day receiving their news and information in new and exciting ways. We want to be a part of that, and YouTube provides an excellent vehicle for sending this information to this unique audience,” he said.

The initiative also received strong support from MNF-I leadership and quickly moved from brainstorming sessions to action.

“We want the American public, from an unfiltered vantage point, to be able to see what coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are doing here in Iraq,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, MNF-I spokesman.

Mechanisms are in place so video clips can quickly and accurately be posted to the Web site, while still adhering to operational security requirements, Walker said.
Read more.

Back to Iraq, Sadr City in particular. I've been blogging a bit about Sadr City recently, there has been a lot of good news coming out of what used to be one of the largest hot spots for violence in Iraq. The US forces along with Iraq Forces recently held a humanitarian outreach effort, providing medical aid to some of the poorest residents of Iraq.
Medical assistance operation in Sadr City
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi police from the 8th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division and paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team conducted a humanitarian medical assistance operation in Sadr City Mar. 17 as part of operations to bring security and stability to the former Mahdi Army stronghold.

Iraqi and Coalition medical providers treated 453 people, including 153 women and 122 children, during the first large-scale humanitarian aid operation conducted in Sadr City since Iraqi and Coalition forces moved into the area in early March.

“Medical operations are just one way that we can make an immediate positive impact in areas in which we operate. This is just the beginning of a long-term program to improve the quality of life for residents of Sadr City,” said Maj. Kyle Simpson, Brigade Civil Affairs Officer for the 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.

“As we move forward, we will work with the Iraqis to improve the security, infrastructure, and economic conditions in Sadr City. It will take time, but life will get better in Sadr City,” added the civil affairs officer.

While residents were waiting to be seen, Civil Affairs Soldiers asked them about needs in their community in order to plan future development projects. Iraqi policemen and U.S. paratroopers also passed out hundreds of soccer balls, clothing, toys, shoes, and school supplies.

Since Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces entered Sadr City as part of the Baghdad Security Plan, violence has dropped off 75% and the overall security situation has dramatically improved since December, when surge troops began arriving.

Did you get that last part? The surge is WORKING and we are WINNING in Iraq.

Still need proof?
Fardh Al-Qanoon lowers violence in northwest Baghdad
BAGHDAD — Violence has reduced since moving Coalition forces out of big forward operating bases and into smaller community-based combat outposts as part of the Fardh Al-Qanoon, a senior Army officer serving there said Friday.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division has seen a significant drop in violence over the past few months in the province of Shula and Kadtimiya, said Col. J.B. Burton, the unit’s commander.

Murders are down, from 141 in January to 63 in February to only 16 so far in March, he said. However the area has seen an increase in car bombs targeting Shiite gathering places, Burton said.

About one million people live in the area patrolled by Burton’s troops. It is principally Shiite-occupied in the northeast, Sunni in the west and southwest, and mixed in the southeast. Sectarian fault lines define the areas, and both Sunni and Shiia extremists fight for control over portions of the city and its citizens, said Burton.

Burton stated that the decline in violence was directly attributed to his Soldiers living in the neighborhoods and working side by side with the Iraqi security forces.

Originally, the combat outposts were designed solely to create and keep a troop presence in the community. However, they have transformed the outposts into combined command posts, or joint security stations, with Iraqi forces working in cooperation with Coalition forces. This allowed for better and faster information sharing and easier operations planning, Burton said.

“Every day I go out and visit these joint security stations, I see better interoperability, increased command and control processes and increased sharing of information,” Burton said. “What we started out with as a means to get Coalition forces out into the battlefield has grown into a very promising effort to execute combined operations across western Baghdad.”

But, while violence has decreased since implementing the Fardh Al-Qanoon, Burton was quick to add that it is still too early to say how long the downturn will last.

“Make no mistake, we are not proclaiming victory yet. There's a lot of tough work ahead, but we are very optimistic,” Burton said.

Still need proof?

Troop surge paving way for political solution
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — The U.S. troop surge in Iraq is in its early stages, but seems to be paving the way for a political solution to the country’s woes, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on CBS's “Face the Nation.”

“The way I would characterize it is so far so good,” Gates said in his first network one-on-one interview since taking over at the Pentagon in December.

Gates said the situation in Iraq cannot be solved by the military alone, but the troop surge is helping create a political environment where issues can be sorted out among the Iraqis. “We’re basically buying them time. That’s the purpose of this whole strategy,” he said. “They’re going to have to step up to the plate. And we can help them by giving them the time to do that, and to make their military forces able to carry the burden by themselves.”

In January, President Bush pledged 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to help stem sectarian violence, and last week the Defense Department announced that 7,000 more support troops are on their way to Iraq.

Gates said the Iraqis are meeting their commitments and working to reconcile their differences. “The troops they have promised are showing up,” he said. “They are allowing operations in all neighborhoods. There is very little political interference with military operations.”

Gates said Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, has said it will probably be summer before it’s known if the surge has been successful. “That’s why we have to wait and see what kind of trend line appears over the next weeks and few months,” Gates said.

U.S. military commanders anticipate that as the U.S. changes its strategy in Iraq, terrorists and insurgents will also change strategies by operating in areas on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders have stated that they wanted to create a firm base in Anbar province and other areas to destabilize Iraq’s neighbors and launch attacks against the U.S.

Characterizing the situation in Iraq as a civil war is an oversimplification, Gates said. “The reality is that stoking sectarian violence is a very specific strategy on the part of al Qaeda and the insurgents,” he said. “You don’t have thousands of Shia and Sunni falling in on each other or attacking each other. You have hit squads going around the city.”

The defense secretary also talked about the vote to take place this week in the U.S. House of Representatives on a bill that would place constraints and a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq. Gates said everyone involved in the debate is patriotic and looking out for America’s best interests, and that most people agree, regardless of political affiliation, that leaving Iraq in chaos would be a mistake.

“We’re all wrestling with what’s the best way to bring about a result that serves the long-term interest, not only of the Iraqi people but of the United States,” he said.

Gates said he was concerned that the specific deadlines and strict conditions in the House bill will make it “difficult, if not impossible” for military commanders to achieve their objectives. “And frankly, as I read it, the House bill is more about withdrawal, regardless of the circumstances on the ground, than it is about trying to produce a positive outcome.”

Lest you think this is the only good news from Iraq in the past few days, take your time and enjoy the following:
Soldiers kill two insurgents before they can plant roadside bomb
Coalition Forces Detain 18 Suspected Terrorists
Iraqi Security Forces Soldiers stop suicide bombers
Coalition forces capture 12 suspected terrorists
Troops Find Weapons Cache, Detain Two Suspected Insurgents
Paratroopers find large weapon cache
IED maker, eight other suspects detained in raids
Coalition Forces Detain Nine Suspected Terrorists in Raids

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