I had the pleasure of talking to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (Rep. Tennessee’s 7th district) who just got back from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan this morning.
Ms Blackburn had commended the troops and the diplomats in Iraq on the anniversary of the start of the surge, and she talked about how, while there were 30,000 additional US troops in the surge, the Iraqis had 100,000 uniformed troops, many times taking the lead, plus many more Iraqis signing up for the civil defense corps. “The surge was a communal effort”, in which the Iraqi people, for instance, the people in al-Ambar province, decided to get al-Qaeda out of their provience.
In Afghanistan, there are many successes: the Afghani army is starting to take the lead in rebuilding (actually building, too, since Afghanistan didn’t have much of a Western-style infrastructure to start) the infrastructure, road construction, and flood control projects.
There are now 3 million Afghanis with cell phones; 75% have access to healthcare; 35% more girls are going to school.
The country is also starting a banking system.
Our troops are instrumental in bringing about all these projects.
I asked about troop morale: The troops understand our mission and are committed to its success.
Troops in her district, where Fort Campbell is located, have advised Rep. Blackburn that the transition for their families has been the smoothest deployment they’ve had because the Army’s doing a better job and there are more support services available.
Are the troops watching the primaries? They are, and they hear people – candidates – in the US talking about Iraq and Afghanistan and being Monday morning quarterbacks. The troops are aware that their good work is being ignored.
I thank Rep. Blackburn for the opportunity to talk to her, and urge all bloggers and all readers of this blog to become involved in spreading out the facts about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The media’s certainly ignoring anything that has to do with progress.