“It is not in our power to turn back the clock to the day before the al Askaria Mosque was bombed. We can, however, in partnership with our Iraqi colleagues, help improve the security situation and enable the Iraqi people to control the demons responsible for the vicious sectarian violence of the past year; demons that tore at the very fabric of Iraqi society. Indeed, our operations will endeavor to provide Iraqi citizens and leaders a chance to mend that fabric.”
Gen. David Petraeus gave his first news conference today since taking over command last month. His message is the same one Bryan Preston and I heard over and over from officers of the Dagger Brigade during our January embed:
Counterinsurgency will not succeed by military force alone.
The Pentagon Channel has the full press briefing video.
The White House distills the following highlights from the briefing:
Highlights from General Petraeus’ Press Briefing Today:
Sectarian killings in Baghdad have been lower over the past several weeks than in the previous month.
Sectarian displacement of families is down, with some families beginning to return to their neighborhoods.
96 weapons caches have been discovered in the Baghdad area in the last two weeks.
Two major car bomb factories have been destroyed on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Hundreds of extremists have been captured or killed, including some mid-level members of al Qaeda in Iraq and other groups.
Coalition forces destroyed several trucks equipped with weapons used to target Coalition aircraft.
A number of tribes in Anbar Province have joined forces with Coalition forces against extremist operatives.
The Council of Ministers has sent the Hydrocarbon Law to the Iraqi Parliament. The proposed law treats Iraq’s petroleum revenues as a national asset to be shared equitably among Iraq’s provinces and regions.
Budgetary advances have been made, including earmarking $7.3 billion dollars for security related expenses and over $10 billion in capital investment in vital infrastructure.
Yesterday, Iraqi officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Salih met to plan for the disbursement of budgeted Iraqi funds.
Per Allah, the NYTimes reports on a leaked confidential assessment by Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno calling for heightened troop levels through at least February 2008. Which, as Jules Crittenden notes, might conflict with some of the leading Democrats’ campaign-year plans.
USA Today’s Jim Michaels spotlights the strategy changes behind the so-called “surge.” It behooves every member of Congress to grasp these essentials.
In case you missed it, I’m linking again to Michael Yon’s latest dispatch. Make sure you read and support his invaluable work. He also sends along a photo of Baghdad security operations in action:
Copyright 2007 Michael Yon
In the brief time I was there, I attended meetings where everyone was working with each other, I mean sheiks, the Police Chief of the city, US Army, Kurds, Sunnis, Shia, cats and dogs, everyone- together. There are real divisions here, but also a real determination to weld the place into a more stable society.
It was good to see the US State Department building infrastructure like schools, roads, water & sewage, to witness them helping integrate the various tribes here, setting up workable trade and political organizations, even living within the populace to get a feel for what is needed culturally. It was very impressive and more importantly, working.
Well, actually, it’s the US Army that does all of the above with their MITT teams (Military Transition Teams). The State Department? A complete no-show, for all I could tell. Maybe they’re double-parked in Washington or something.
People here will tell you they are mostly afraid of one thing-that we will leave soon, like we have since Vietnam, Somalia, etc., and that they will then be at the mercy of the terrorists who seep in from Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Saudia Arabia. A self-fulfilling circle, helped out vastly by our ‘anti-war’ citizens back home, who ironically enable wars as this by forcing constant US retreats through our political process. People here – real people, not ‘Jamil Husseins’ – want us here to give them time to reform their society.
I speculate this is one of the reasons I observed such high morale in our soldiers here. They are wanted here, unlike, say, in San Francisco. But, I digress…
“The way ahead will be neither quick nor easy.”
“It’s going to take time”
Hot Air in Iraq: Civilian Help Wanted
Hot Air in Iraq: Khadimiyah Dismounted Patrol
Hot Air in Iraq: Khadimiyah Blanket Drop
Hot Air in Iraq: Hurriya’s Mosques
Hot Air in Iraq: Iraqis speak to America
Hot Air TV in Baghdad
Bryan Preston: COIN Toss
Bryan Preston: Assessing Baghdad
Baghdad photo album
Back from Baghdad
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