“By every metric that we measure violence in Iraq, there has been a dramatic improvement from where things were before the surge,” Morrell said. “I’ll just point to one, and that is [that] in July of last year, we had 79 U.S. [servicemembers killed in action] in Iraq. We have four thus far this month.”(See also: "US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost" Associated Press. July 26, 2008).
The dramatic security gains have provided room for political and economic successes. “You name it, it is happening in Iraq,” Morrell said. “Do you want to talk about political gains? We’ve had basically all the major benchmark legislation passed.”
The Sunni bloc has returned to the government, 10 of 18 Iraqi provinces are under local control, and Najaf International Airport has reopened. “You see a $300 million luxury hotel opening up in the Green Zone [and] $50 million in refurbishment of the airport road,” Morrell said. “There’s economic investment, and there’s political progress. There’s increased security. All those things are undeniable, and they are attributable to the fact that we plussed up forces in there.”
There were, of course, other factors at work in the security improvement, Morrell said, but the surge and the change in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy made all else possible. The “Anbar Awakening” that allied formerly insurgent Sunni Muslims with the coalition and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire were other factors, he said, but he noted they didn’t happen independently of other events.
It's a testament to the improving situation in Iraq that so many of our armed forces are now -- rather than being involved in armed combat -- are participating in what is more properly termed humanitarian services:
- Navy surgeons and corpsmen with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 and 3rd Marine Air Wing (Forward) worked with Iraqi doctors to provide medical services in Akashat, Iraq, treating more than 200 patients in house calls.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hard at work, assisting in the construction of a Children's Hospital and a water treatment plant -- brings fresh drinking water for the first time ever to some 20,000 of its residents -- both in Basrah. A primary health care facility was also constructed in An Najaf - The new facility is expected to serve 200 patients a day and, at 2,200 square meters, is the largest PHC being built in Iraq. It offers basic health care, dental exam, x-ray room, laboratory for blood work, pharmacy, treatment rooms, emergency trauma services, inpatient and maternity care (pre-natal and birthing).
- Capt. Shaun Wheelwright of the Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds" played an instrumental role in bringing school supplies and $260,000 in reconstruction funding to 600 students at the Al Abbas primary school in Northwest Baghdad. Three schools in the area were destroyed by terrorists, making it the only school in the area.
- A Navy chaplain with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, and Marines with Security Platoon, 2nd LAR packed up and delivered food and supplies to widows in Rutbah - meeting with the Muslim community leader to continue further visits in the future.
Relationships between the Iraqi government and former insurgents have improved, with reportedly more than 1,100 former fighters having reconciled with Iraqi Security and Coalition forces in the Salah ad Din province since May -- reestablishing their ties to the communities, rejoining their families in their homes and becoming active participants in Iraq’s future.
Security patrols continue, together with the confiscation of weapons caches -- During their month-long presence in al-Amarah, battalions from the 10th IA Div. have not seen a single gunfight, not one improvised explosive device attack, nor received any indirect fire:
Operations in al-Amarah began June 19. In a matter of days, IA and Iraqi Police detained approximately 200 criminals and collected more than 220 weapon caches. ISF found the caches in homes, businesses and public areas throughout the city of Amarah, containing 2,262 mortar rounds, 1,034 mines, 971 artillery rounds, 749 rocket-propelled grenades, 598 rockets, 259 missile launchers, 176 improvised explosive devices, 259 grenades, 43 DSHKA barrels, 141 explosively formed penetrators and 22 missiles.
All of this without a single shot fired.
Iraqis are also learning to fend for themselves -- a local Baghdad construction company rebuilt both lanes of a bridge damaged by a VIED in 2007; In July, the governor of Qadasiyah province assumed security responsibility from coalition forces, making it the 10th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to transfer security responsibility to the local government.
Further updates can be obtained courtesty of a blog entitled: Iraq's Inconvenient Truth.