The following story was sent to me by “My Favorite Marine!”
I am encouraged when I read the news and see that our leaders in Washington are making trips to the Middle East, talking with our military leaders and making honest evaluations based on what they learn. I get frustrated by those who simply shout “pull our Troops out”, hoping to gain votes based on media polls.
Alrighty, I will stop ranting and allow you to read the report from Congressman LoBiondo.
By RAJU CHEBIUM
Gannett News Service
WASHINGTONThe U.S. military surge in Iraq has curbed the armed insurgency in two regions previously wracked by violence, a New Jersey congressman said Monday after visiting the country.
President Bush’s decision in January to deploy an additional 21,000 combat soldiers has reduced attacks in the city of Fallujah and Anbar province, said Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., who traveled to Iraq last week as part of a congressional delegation.
Though the lawmakers traveled to Baghdad to meet with Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, LoBiondo said he was disappointed he couldn’t get out into the capital, where violence continues despite the surge.
In Fallujah, he said he met with 20 Marines, some from Central and North Jersey, and Iraqi leaders for “unscripted” conversations. Under armed escort, the lawmakers were taken into Fallujah.
“The surge has made all the difference in the world,” LoBiondo said. “The military success is very strong. It’s tangible and it’s beyond what I was expecting to see. . . . Morale was sky-high.”
Meanwhile, the Iraqi national government still has a lot of work to do, LoBiondo said, echoing a view the House Armed Services Committee member has expressed previously.
For instance, Fallujah’s mayor criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not doing enough to stabilize the city, which lacks water and sewer connections.
On Monday, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Iraq Parliament should replace al-Maliki, calling him incapable of bringing peace.
LoBiondo didn’t go as far as Levin, but criticized Iraq’s leaders for doing too little to boost investment to rebuild the country and unite Sunni and Shiite factions.
After winning control of Congress in November largely because of voter disenchantment with the Iraq war, Democrats have tried to pass a raft of legislation aimed at withdrawing most of the 160,000 U.S. soldiers in that country. The issue has split the New Jersey delegation along partisan lines.
Like many other Republicans, LoBiondo said he awaits a report due from Petraeus next month before deciding on a stand about the future of U.S. involvement.
While in Baghdad, LoBiondo said he asked Petraeus about fears the White House would “scrub” the report clean of unwelcome news.
“He looked right in my eyes and said, “I will resign before I allow that to happen,'” LoBiondo said. “I felt a sense of relief.” (emphasis mine)
Rep. Frank LoBiondo visits with New Jersey military personnel at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.