Thursday, December 06, 2007

Supporting Their Mission Supports the Troops

I’ve always felt that those who said they “support the troops but not the mission” held an untenable position. Supporting the troops and their mission are inseparable.

That is especially true in the fight against Islamic extremists in Iraq. For the Islamic extremists to win their fight against us, they need Americans to lack perseverance in the protracted war they are more than willing to endure.

They need Americans who will shrink from victory. Their goal has always been to defeat the will of the American people, not defeat our troops in battle.

Thus, those who do not support the mission provide the enemy exactly the kind of morale boost he needs to continue his fight against us and our troops. As long as this enemy believes he can outlast the will of a majority of the American people, he will keep fighting.

Encouraging an environment in which our enemy’s resolve is steeled against our troops does not support the troops.

Now, with the undeniable success we’re having in Iraq, the “support the troops, but not the mission” position is becoming increasingly precarious. In fact, taking a position which encourages our enemy to keep fighting when our troops are achieving so much success in their mission against them is unjustifiable.

One mission of our troops has been to foster an environment where cooperation and reconciliation can take place among the different groups of Iraqi’s. Our troops are succeeding in that mission.

They have united the Iraqi people against both Al Qaeda and the Iranian influenced Shia militias.

The L.A. Times published a story this week, as so many others have over the last several months, about Sunni and Shia joining together to defend their local communities against militants on both sides. This column has chronicled many events where groups from all backgrounds in Iraq have been participating in “bottom-up” reconciliation.

Who can’t support our troops in that mission?

Another of our troops’ missions has been to drive Al Qaeda from Iraq.

Numerous stories over the last few months have detailed that very thing. Our troops, working with Iraqi forces and Concerned Iraqi Citizens have been relentless in their pursuit of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, reducing the terrorist organization to a mere fraction of what it once was.

Who can’t support our troops in that mission?

Another mission for our troops has been to eliminate the violence in Iraq fueled by militants and terrorists so that normal civilian life could once again take hold for the growth of the people and self governance.

The number of attacks against civilians is at its lowest point since early last year. Civilian deaths are down by 60% since June alone. Attacks are averaging less than 1 per day in many areas. Anbar province has become so calm that the Marines are starting to get bored. The sectarian violence has all but ended and recently Prime Minister Malaki declared the same for Baghdad.

Newsweek recently did a story about Baghdad coming back to life from the perspective of a journalist who has been there off and on for the last four and a half years. He now sees definite progress with durability. This week, Multi-National Forces – Iraq released a story about Baghdad schools reopening and the distribution of school supplies by our soldiers. Other recent stories have shared news of markets reopening and staying open late, amusement parks being attended, and people moving back to Baghdad.

Through the efforts of our troops working with Iraqi forces and citizens, a sense of normalcy is returning to many areas of the country, the kind of normalcy that allows for self-governance.

Who can’t support our troops in their mission to end the violence in Iraq sparked by the same terrorists who also plan our demise?

One goal of this counter-insurgency “surge” strategy has been to create an environment which is less risky for our troops. It is sadly unfortunate when our troops are injured or killed. The news of their deaths is very emotionally difficult for me. So, I am a firm believer in our troops having a mission which allows them to defeat our enemies with the least number of casualties.

Our troops have that mission with “The New Way Forward,” a strategy which has decreased the number of their deaths to the lowest point since October 2006.

When there’s a war to win, you need to support a mission which does that.

In every way, by every metric, our troops are succeeding in their mission. They are winning. Truly supporting them requires that we support them in these winning endeavors.

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