November 12, 2007

Another Metric Of Success In Iraq

The news keeps improving in Iraq. According to the US military, rocket and mortar attacks continue to drop in Baghdad and throughout the country. After peaking in the early days of the surge, the numbers have declined ever since to a two-year low:

Rocket and mortar attacks in Iraq are reported to have fallen to their lowest levels for nearly two years.

The US military said such attacks in October fell to 369, half the level during October 2006. This is the third month running of reduced rocket fire.

Mortar and rocket attacks in Baghdad showed a similar pattern, falling to 53 in October from more than 200 in June.

US officials said this was in part due to the US troop surge for the capital launched in February.

Other reasons for the reduction were the discovery of arms caches following tip-offs from Iraqis, the killing of more insurgents and successful reconciliation campaigns, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Rikard said.

The numbers tell a remarkable story of patience and perseverance, both by the US military and the Iraqi people. The new strategy and tactics of General David Petraeus initially produced higher casualty rates as the Americans and their Iraqi Army allies aggressively pursued terrorists and sectarian militias. After the arrival of the complete surge increase, the casualties began falling as fast as they rose, and the terrorists found themselves pushed to the margins of Iraq.

The Iraqi people, seeing the new and aggressive commitment to security on our part, responded with fresh intelligence on arms caches and terrorist activities. Even the native insurgencies allied themselves with the US, making the obvious calculation that the Americans could not possibly do as much damage as Osama bin Laden's extremists. As a result, the weapons that terrorists use for attacks have fallen into American and Iraqi hands before they could be deployed against us.

For those who do not recognize it, this is momentum. We have taken the offensive and have acted with strength against the terrorists and the militias. The Iraqis have seen that neither can stand up against a determined effort of a disciplined military force, and they now have the confidence in us to work for our shared goals of a free and stable Iraq.

This is not yet victory, but this is what it looks like -- and we need to maintain that momentum until we achieve it.


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