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Straight talk on Iraq
June 25, 2008 - Kevin Sweeney
It was a pleasure to hear Col. Peter Mansoor speak at the Rotary Club of New Ulm on Tuesday. Mansoor talked about the situation in Iraq, and he is someone who knows what he is talking about. He served in Iraq as a brigade commander for 13 months in 2003-2004, and just finished up a term as Executive Officer for Gen. David Petraeus, the head honcho of the Multi-National force in Iraq, for 15 months from 2007-2008.
Mansoor was also one of the officers who weighed a variety of strategies for Iraq in 2006, and came up with the Troop Surge strategy, which ends in July this year when the last Surge troops are rotated out.
The Surge has been successful in doing what needs to be done in Iraq — providing the security and confidence Iraqis need to be able to pull their country together, to work together politically without worrying about who has the biggest militia.
Mansoor made it clear that the great advances this past year are Iraqi doing, with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. Al Qaida is all but destroyed in Iraq — because the Iraqis themselves defeated them, with our help. Sheiks and tribal leaders turned their guns against the terrorists, and the average citizens began turning them in, with the confidence that someone was there to protect them from reprisals.
The Maliki government moved against the militias and insurgents in several regions and cities, with the help of U.S. troops but increasingly with Iraqi military and police forces. Mansoor said the number of Iraqi forces is growing, along with the quality. They may not be the quality of U.S. forces, but they are good enough to maintain order within their borders, Mansoor said.
The government is also passing meaningful legislation that will extend rights and benefits to all in Iraq, and the Sunnis who boycotted the first free elections two years ago are eager to be involved when the next elections come in the fall, Mansoor said.
It sounds like Iraq is making progress toward becoming a self-sufficient, free society. That was the best part of Mansoor’s talk.
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