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Progress in Iraq
General Sullivan says: "This article from the 2nd Airborne Division regarding progress in Iraq paints a much different picture than Tor Guimaraes' conservatives friends paint who voted for Bush. I suggest his friends need to read some articles from the actual people tasked with doing the job who are on scene than from the anti Bush pundits worldwide who take great glee in bashing everything he does. Several WAISers feel the same way. Phyllis Gardner continually states she is against everything Bush does and stands for. I suggest the anti Bush folks realize the US is in it for the long haul with the fight against terrorism, and it won't get any easier, be over sooner or safer no matter who is President. Here is the article:
"Rip another page off your calendars! August was a tough month for the Regiment and we're glad to have it over with. The troopers who were here will never forget the heat of 6-12 August when thermometers pegged out at 136 degrees on the 10th and averaged 133 the whole period. It was a mistake to let bare skin touch metal - you would come away with a blister. Even so, the little Iraqi children cheerfully scurried across the blacktop in their bare feet. The kids are something. They are always smiling and waving. Troopers get a kick out of them running to the street and saying 'Hey mister, mister, chocolate - you give me chocolate'. Of course, they have already learned GI slang and some of the boys practice spitting to imitate paratroopers.
It will probably have US troops there for at least another couple of years, so the Army has decided to spruce it up. We are going to throw up barracks (with flush toilets even!) and then build up quality of life additions around ourselves. Part of 2nd Battalion will remain in a Ba'athist compound that they are in now - at least for a while. We may turn that spot into a recreation area later.
I wanted to take a few lines and explain the big picture of this operation as I see it. Our nation has asked the US military to do some seriously heavy lifting - with the help of some staunch coalition partners. The global War on Terror is an extremely ambitious undertaking on par with liberating the continent of Europe while simultaneously defeating the Japanese in the Pacific during WW II. This war is about ending terrorism and the culture that breeds it. To do that, we had to come to the source. Some say that there was absolutely no connection between terrorism and Saddam's regime. If that's so, how did Abu Nidal, the most notorious terrorist of the 80's and 90's, find sanctuary here in Baghdad until he died last year? How did Ansar Al Islam, a radical surrogate of Al Queda, operate training camps in Northern Iraq until 83 of them were killed by US Special Operation Forces. How was it that our forces found Al Queda training materials, including recipes for bio toxins here? Who bombed the Jordanian embassy, the UN building, and the Shia mosque in Al Najaf?
In spite of what you hear from the hyped up election year media, we are winning this fight. At the tactical level, your loved ones are conducting operations every night that directly target the remains of Saddam's murderous regime, along with those who seek to prolong the post-combat chaos in Baghdad for their own personal gain.
We have hired almost 2000 Iraqis who are working alongside of our troopers every day to preserve security and protect critical infrastructure. We have recruited and are now training the first members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the new Iraqi Army. There are now almost 6000 Iraqi policemen in Baghdad and training will continue until there are 16,500. In AO Falcon, we have also started our own security force called Neighborhood Watch. We recruited men from each neighborhood to protect their families and property from criminals and enemy fighters. There are now over 1300 men who prevent evil doers from entering the Al Rasheed community. We have also formed both Neighborhood and District Advisory Councils made up of Iraqi citizens who support our cause and they are beginning to take charge of their own affairs. The fledgling representative government is taking shape and the Iraqis are learning that freedom, prosperity and Islam can in fact co-exist. Each of these groups is beginning to understand that the propaganda being spread by the anti-coalition media is simply not true. We are not here for their oil, or to destroy their religion or install a Jewish government.
They now understand that what was caused by 35 years of neglect and decay cannot be repaired overnight. They have come to know our troopers for what they are: decent, caring, honorable people who treat everyone with dignity and respect unless given reason not to. They also realize this - the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to them is to have American Paratroopers as their enemies. The Iraqis of our district are learning that they can trust us. Consequently, they are no longer afraid to approach us with the information we need to eliminate the resistance fighters. The Iraqi people remain our best sources of intelligence. Because of this, we have transitioned from a strategy of near continuous presence on the streets to one of precision. We are no longer alienating innocent Iraqis by conducting searches of entire city blocks. Instead, we wait until we know for sure, and then strike quickly to snatch our enemies from their hiding places.
Every hospital and clinic in Baghdad is now operating. The coalition is printing 5 million new textbooks, handing out school supplies to 1.2 million children and rehabilitating 1000 schools. Iraq is producing over 1 million barrels of oil a day. For the first time in history, Baghdad has a garbage collection service. Power production has jumped from 300 mega-watts per day after liberation to 3300 mega-watts per day. There are 1.3 million Iraqis drawing salaries, 92,000 receiving social security payments, and 90,000 working to clear irrigation canals of obstructions.
So the next time you listen to the presidential contenders and media - with their predictions of another Viet Nam, failure and hysteria, you know the real deal. Military campaigns are never easy - and replacing a tyrannical dictatorship with a democracy where one has never before existed is especially difficult. But, our troopers are making it happen and making it matter.
We will not fail and with the help of the Iraqi people, we will finish this fight and head on home".
Ronald Hilton - 09.21.03