WASHINGTON, DC – Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senator Kit Bond, today said that the testimony before Congress from the top military leaders in Iraq confirm that progress has been made and the importance of the battle in the war on terror.
“It is fitting that on this day, as we honor the memory of the victims of 9-11 and their families, that Congress and the nation remain focused on our fight in Iraq,” said Bond. “Our men and women in the military are fighting the Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq today, so that future generations of Americans will not have to fight them on our own soil tomorrow.”
Over the past two days, General David Petraeus, the Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, testified before the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate on the progress being made in Iraq. Bond stressed that both Petraeus and Crocker’s testimony reinforced what he saw first-hand on his trip to Iraq earlier this year and what he has heard from the troops -- the momentum has shifted in our favor in Iraq.
“After a misdirected military strategy over the last two years, the new counterinsurgency strategy to clear, hold and build has brought Iraqi citizens to our side in the fight against Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists,” said Bond.
Bond pointed out that the testimony details the significant progress made in the security situation in Iraq. U.S. troops have been successful in rooting out Al Qaeda terrorists and Shia militia extremists, reducing sectarian violence, and increasing cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces and tribal leaders. Bond acknowledged that all the new was not positive.
“While our top leaders in Iraq were right to applaud our troops for the important progress made in Iraq, difficult challenges remain. Political progress in Iraq has been too slow and the strain on our troops too great,” said Bond.
Bond praised our top leaders in Iraq for outlining to the American people the stakes of our battle in Iraq. Petraeus and Crocker spoke of the dangers of a precipitous withdrawal. Bond emphasized that the intelligence community agrees with these leaders that if we withdraw from Iraq before their army and police can maintain security, violence and chaos will spread across the region.
Winning in Iraq is not only critical to the Middle East, but it is critical to our national security, said Bond. Today marks the 6th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, when Al Qaeda terrorists declared war on the United States. While we have made great progress in our fight against terrorism, Iraq is now the central battleground. Bond pointed out that defeat in Iraq would give the terrorists who launched the 9-11 attacks a safe haven to export terror worldwide. Bond emphasized that in addition to giving Al Qaeda a safehaven, defeat in Iraq would embolden a nuclear-armed Iran.
Bond asked his colleagues to listen to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony as Congress is preparing to take up legislation affecting our troops in the field. Bond warned that the worst case scenario would be for Congress to ignore our military leaders. Military decisions must be made by our military commanders on the ground, not micromanaged by Congress, said Bond.
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