I believe that the surge is working and we should support our troops in every way possible now. I also believe daily prayer for them and our success in Iraq is a powerful tool for us to employ. Please pray for Matt and our troops in harms way who are engaged in a fight worth fighting and winning. Below is his most recent e-mail to his family who forwarded it to me. Matt is currently in Ramadi:
I had someone e-mail me and ask me what I thought about what is going on in Iraq and my prediction for General P's report, here it is. Please feel free to pass it along.
I am in Ramadi, Iraq and as you may have read, things here are very quiet. There have been several articles in major publications that have accurately described what is going on here.
"A War We Just Might Win" is one of the better ones I have seen. We had about 50 Al Qaeda fighters try and sneak into the city at the beginning of July but they were defeated before they could reach the city. This shows what a success the peace in Ramadi is and what a major defeat AQI considers it.
Ramadi is probably (in my opinion) #2 on AQI's hit list after Baghdad.
While things at the top of the government in Iraq aren't progressing as we'd hope, the progress at the local level is much greater than anyone could have expected. The Al Anbar Sunni tribes have been working with us to defeat AQI. Ramadi is almost a normal city again. We are nowable to concentrate on rebuilding the water mains, sewers, and powerlines. The residents are clearing up rubble and building new houses and schools. The residents of the city are taking part in day labor programs to clean up their neighborhoods.
In the area I patrol daily, there are new butcher shops, fruit stands, household goods, building materials,and auto part shops opening up. While there is heightened security and a curfew in effect at night, the residents of the city have clearly"bought in" to the CF/Tribes coalition rebuilding process. These are the types of things that can't happen until the area is secure and you have "buy in" from the people. It is very hard to put up powerlines or fix a sewer line while someone is shooting at you.
I've seen several opponents of the war try and shift the debate when asked about military progress on the ground. They say that the surge isn't working because the power is out, there hasn't been any progress on rebuildingsewers, or water mains, etc. This just shows their complete ignorance of military operations. Power, water, and sewers are the last step inthe secure, hold, and build strategy we are using.
These are the last things that will happen as the Iraqi's continue to secure their country with our help. While Al Anbar is predominantly Sunni, the Al Anbar model is spreading to areas with Shia and Sunni population. The rest of Iraq has heard or seen what Al Anbar is like now and tribes in other areas are using the Al Anbar model as a way to make their province safer.
There have been reports of Sunni and Shia tribes working together with the CFto rid their province of AQI. So while General Petraus's report on the progress of the Iraqi Government will highlight that it has missed the benchmark, the cooperation and progress on the district, city, and province level has surpassed expectations. While everyone hoped that the progress would go from the top down, it now appears progress is happening from the bottom up.
Two final thoughts:
Baghdad will be the last area of Iraq to be secured. It has the largest population, largest mix of Sunni and Shia, and it has been the power center of the country since its inception. This naturally makes it the largest target for AQI and other insurgent groups. Most of the Western press corps is also located there so AQI will continue to concentrate their attacks in Baghdad to ensure they get the media coverage they need and crave.
Second, I can't say enough about what a great job General Petraus is doing. It is my sincere opinion that he will tell Congress what he thinks and not what the administration wants to hear.
God bless you and your fellow soldiers there, Matt. We are behind you in every way.