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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Surge worked?

Get out of here, REALLY!
Someone tell Obama quick, so he can retool his position on the surge.

Eleven US soldiers were killed in Iraq in July, the lowest monthly toll since the 2003 invasion, according Pentagon figures, highlighting what US commanders say is a marked drop in overall violence.

The number compares with the deadliest month of November 2004 when 137 American troops were slain, an independent toll by icasualties.org showed. The previous low was in May this year when 19 soldiers were killed.

Since the US-led invasion of March 2003 that toppled now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, a total of 4,125 US troops have been killed in Iraq, according to independent website icasualties.org.

The downward trend began in the middle of last year after a US troop “surge”, although there were two spikes in bloodshed in March and April when fierce fighting erupted between Shiite militiamen and US-led forces.

Icasualties.org said the number of Iraqi civilian dead fell to 302 in July, the lowest since April 2005, from 373 in June while the toll among Iraqi security forces rose in July to 91 from 77.

The commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said in an interview published two days ago that overall violence was falling to almost “normal” levels.

But he warned that the trend could be reversed by “sensational attacks” such as two bombings on Monday that rocked Baghdad and the northern oil hub of Kirkuk in which about 56 Iraqis were killed and more than 200 wounded.

“If you could reduce these sensational attacks further, I think you are almost approaching a level of normal or latent violence,” Petraeus told USA Today.

“The fact that the levels of violence have come down so significantly and stayed down now for some two-and-a-half months… indicates there is a degree of durability.”

Icasualties.org estimates that a total of 42,922 civilians have died since it began tallying figures in March 2005, but warns that its count cannot be verified, and the actual toll is much higher.

The United States and Iraq are still trying to hammer out an agreement governing US troops levels in the country beyond 2008 when the UN mandate covering the presence of foreign soldiers expires.

In principle, Thursday was the deadline set in November by US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to sign a Status of Forces Agreement.

Maliki this month shook the White House by saying he was in favour of setting a date for the withdrawal of US combat troops in Iraq, where the US force currently totals about 142,500.

The White House said earlier this month it did not think Baghdad and Washington would meet the July 31 deadline for the pact, which could be a few days or a couple of weeks ago.

Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said on Monday that he believed they were “moving in the right direction” towards concluding an agreement, despite some opposition in Iraq.

Radical anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said in a statement on Thursday that he objected to a deal with the “occupier” and urged Iraqis to stand up against the pact.

Asked whether Iraqi troops could fill the void created by a US withdrawal, Bolani said the issue was being evaluated by his ministry against factors such as experience and training of Iraqi forces.

To date 10 of Iraq’s 18 provinces have been handed over to the Iraqis.

“After all that perhaps we can determine, look into the issue of decreasing the forces or decreasing the amount of personnel there,” he said, adding that Iraqi forces had demonstrated their ability to contain the “threat of terrorism.”

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I should say unreported by the MSM. I have not seen a single story on the following.

News Link

Missions by special forces and air strikes by unmanned drones have “decapitated” the Taliban and brought the war in Afghanistan to a “tipping point”, the commander of British forces has said.

The new “precise, surgical” tactics have killed scores of insurgent leaders and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign, according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the “very effective targeted decapitation operations” that have removed “several echelons of commanders”.

This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said.

“The Taliban are much weaker,” he said from 16 Air Assault Brigade headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

“The tide is clearly ebbing not flowing for them. Their chain of command is disrupted and they are short of weapons and ammunition.”

Last year’s killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban chief, most likely by the Special Boat Service, was “a seminal moment in dislocating” their operation in southern Afghanistan, said Brig Carleton-Smith, 44, who has extensive operational experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and has commanded elite Army troops.

“We have seen increasing fissures of stress through the whole organisation that has led to internecine and fratricidal strife between competing groups.”

Taliban fighters are apparently becoming increasingly unpopular in Helmand, where they are reliant on the local population for food and water.

They have also been subjected to strikes by the RAF’s American-made Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle and the guided Royal Artillery missile system, which have both proved a major battlefield success.

“I can therefore judge the Taliban insurgency a failure at the moment,” said Brig Carleton-Smith. “We have reached the tipping point.”

The task is now to regenerate the economy to win over the civilian population of Helmand, the base for 8,000 British soldiers.

Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, appears to be a town on the cusp of an economic boom if security remains stable.

A new airport will be ready by the end of this year and a packaging factory by the end of next year.

This could enable the soil-rich “fruit basket of Afghanistan” to export its food.

Alternative crops, such as wheat or rape, could prove a greater attraction than Helmand’s massive opium trade, especially as international prices continue to rise.

Much of the Taliban operation is run by Mullah Omar and to a lesser extent al-Qa’eda from their headquarters in Quetta, across the border in Pakistan.

The ability of what is known as the Quetta Shura leadership had been “hugely reduced” and its influence “increasingly marginalised”, the brigadier said. Michael Ryder, the senior Foreign Office official in Helmand, agreed that intelligence assessments suggested that the Taliban had become “fractured and fragmented”.

“There’s a lot of suspicion from southern Taliban commanders of the agenda of Quetta Shura,” he said, with the leaders trying to draw in an estimated £20 million a year from the opium trade.

The number of Afghans involved in the insurgency has also fallen, with increasing numbers of Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks and Arabs found dead on the battlefield.

However, with the shortage of helicopters still a problem, most movement is by road and Brig Carleton-Smith warned that British forces must prepare for an increasingly Iraq-style insurgency as the Taliban modified its tactics from pitched battles to ambushes and roadside bombs.

Its funny, because if I remember correctly the media was all over reporting a possible resurgence of Taliban fighting in Afghanistan. Seemingly quick to report the negative news of the day and not really to eager to report the positive.

In Iraq:

BAGHDAD, June 1 (Reuters) – U.S. troop deaths in Iraq fell to their lowest level last month since the 2003 invasion and officials said on Sunday improved security also helped the country boost oil production in May to a post-war high.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Iraq’s oil minister credited better security for the two milestones, which illustrated a dramatic turnabout in the fortunes of a country on the brink of all-out sectarian civil war just 12 months ago.

“We’ve still got a distance to go but I think lower casualty rates are a reflection of some real progress,” Gates told reporters in Singapore. “The key will be to continue to sustain the progress we have seen.”

American generals have stressed that the security gains are both fragile and reversible. That was shown in March, when an Iraqi government offensive against Shi’ite militias in southern Basra sparked a surge in violence in the capital and other cities, catching U.S. and Iraqi officials off guard.

The U.S. military said 19 soldiers died in May, the lowest monthly death toll in a five-year-old war that has so far claimed the lives of more than 4,000 American soldiers.

Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told Reuters in an interview that the improved security had helped Iraq, which has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, raise oil production to a post-war high of 2.5 million barrels per day in May.

Iraq’s oil industry, hit by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, was a vulnerable target for saboteurs after the U.S. invasion. Attacks on pipelines quickly destroyed any hopes of using Iraq’s vast oil reserves to fund its reconstruction.

The military says violence in Iraq is now at a four-year low following crackdowns by U.S. and Iraqi forces on Shi’ite militias in southern Basra and Baghdad and on al Qaeda in the northern city of Mosul, its last major urban stronghold.

“In May we have exceeded for the first time a 2 million barrels per day export rate. In production we have exceeded 2.5 million bpd,” Shahristani said.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in May also fell, to 505, after reaching a seven-month high of 968 in April, figures compiled by the interior, defence and health ministries showed.

So wait, you mean to tell me that the surge could possibly be working?
That the training of Iraqi forces by military personal is working? REALLY?
Well if CNN, NBC, CBS, NY TIMES doesn’t report it, it just can’t be true.

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Auditors: Iraq Faces Budget Surplus

Iraq isn’t spending much of its own money, despite soaring oil revenues that are pushing the country toward a massive budget surplus, auditors told Congress on Tuesday.

The expected surplus comes as the U.S. continues to invest billions of dollars in rebuilding Iraq and faces a financial squeeze domestically because of record oil prices.

“The Iraqis have a budget surplus,” said U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. “We have a huge budget deficit. . . . One of the questions is who should be paying.”

Walker and the other auditors did not give a figure as to the likely surplus. U.S. officials contend that Iraq’s lack of spending is due primarily to Baghdad’s inability to determine where its money is needed most and how to allocate it efficiently. Two senators have called for an investigation into the matter.

Democrats say the assessment is proof that the Iraq war as a waste of time and money. The U.S. has spent more than $45 billion on rebuilding Iraq. And while officials in Iraq contend that much progress is being made, many projects remain unfinished and U.S. troops are still needed to provide security.

“They ought to be able to use some of their oil to pay for their own costs and not keep sending the bill to the United States,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

In recent months, Iraq experienced its highest oil production and export levels since the war began five years ago, said Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

That spike in revenue combined with the highest oil prices in history, “coalesce into an enormous revenue windfall for the Iraqi government,” Bowen told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Whereas Iraqi officials estimated $35 billion in oil revenues last fall, Bowen said the final number is likely to be closer to $60 billion.

“That certainly gives them resources to carry forward with an extensive reconstruction plan,” Bowen said.

But according to other U.S. officials, a major problem is that Iraq does not have the capacity to allocate the money without it being wasted or pocketed by corrupt officials.

“I think they are beginning to do more,” particularly in improving its military and buying new weapon systems, said Claude Kicklighter, the Pentagon’s inspector general. “And I think that’s certainly the trend that we should be following.”

The Government Accountability Office estimates that the U.S. has designated $6 billion to rebuild Iraq’s energy sector and $300 million to develop Iraq’s government ministries. But GAO contends that the U.S. doesn’t have a strategic plan on how to accomplish either goal.

The State Department told investigators it believes the Iraqis should be responsible for devising such a plan. GAO disagreed.

“In our view, it’s a shared responsibility. U.S. taxpayer money is involved,” Walker said.

Last week, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John Warner, R-Va., asked GAO to investigate what Iraq is doing with its oil revenue. The senators estimated that Iraq will realize “at least $100 billion in oil revenues in 2007 and 2008.”

This is good news is my horse blinders wearing lefty friends.
It means that the Iraqis can soon (if not now) take over funding for their own security, their own infrastructure rebuilding.

It means that those efforts may not have been in vain.
It means that despite your hate for Bush, that things are working.
That the surge is working.
That the money can now start coming from Iraqi’s to rebuild Iraq.
Its been the goal for some time right?

You left wing “folks” have complained for some time that the Iraqi’s need to take things over for themselves. That they need to fund the effort themselves. Well here you have something that says they are capable of doing so economically and yet you still bitch about it.

As the saying goes, you just can’t satisfy everyone huh?

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Well well well.
Seems like Murtha is eating crow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007
By Jerome L. Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy.

“I think the ‘surge’ is working,” the Democrat said in a videoconference from his Johnstown office, describing the president’s decision to commit more than 20,000 additional combat troops this year. But the Iraqis “have got to take care of themselves.”

Violence has dropped significantly in recent months, but Mr. Murtha said he was most encouraged by changes in the once-volatile Anbar province, where locals have started working closely with U.S. forces to isolate insurgents linked to Al Qaeda.

He said Iraqis need to duplicate that success at the national level, but the central government in Baghdad is “dysfunctional.”

Mr. Murtha’s four day-trip took him to a Thanksgiving dinner with troops in Kuwait last Thursday, and he then made stops in Iraq, Turkey and Belgium.

Murtha conceding that progress is being made?
I thought the troop surge was not going to work Murtha? Hmmm…. Guess once again you were wrong.

This is going to be an interesting election season as more progress is made in Iraq. So much so that even the New York Times could not ignore it last week in an article. The rest of the MSM media has not jumped on board yet. But eventually they will have no choice BUT to take notice and actually report on it.

Slowly we will start to see the shift of posturing by the Democrats on this issue.
Watch as they move the bar now from Military solutions they said were not possible to the new tactic of BUT LOOK there is not political triumph. To that I say. NOT YET!

Much like many conservatives have been saying. You need to provide SECURITY FIRST in order to let the political take hold. Now that security has taken hold of the country, the new focus is on seeing that talks resume and that the political process in Iraq brings the nation forward.

Now I just will go ape shit when Dingy Harry Reid actually acknowledges that the troop surge has worked!

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