Above is a Euphrates scene
A Combat Camera Presentation made me think of this topic. You can download that presentation by clicking that link.
I am surprised how open and friendly Iraqis are to the Marines. You might think that after a war people might be a little more sullen or at least indifferent, but they are usually very happy to see the patrols. I like to go on “foot patrol” and walk through the streets of the towns in Western Anbar and see for myself what is going on. The transformation is amazing. Markets are full of goods, including highly perishable items such as eggs, fresh milk, fruits and vegetables. Although I cannot see it at the marketplace, I know also that town councils are set up. Courts are in session. Things are better.
In some of these places, fighting raged less than a year ago. Al Anbar was supposed to be the center of the new Al Qaeda caliphate. Instead it is the place where our Iraqi allies and we have most completely defeated the retrograde forces looking to drag us back into the 8th century. This is astonishing.
Whether or not all Americans are ready to accept it, our new strategy is delivering a victory in Iraq. Our forces faced down the bad guys at a time when conventional wisdom told us our best bet was just to get out and leave Anbar and its people to them. I know some would say that it is too soon to claim success, and they are probably right. I would keep my mouth shut if I had to talk about the big picture or carefully weigh the political considerations, but those kinds of things are above my pay grade. I am talking only about the things I know from my own experience. From my position – standing with my boots on the khaki dirt of Western Anbar – it is very hard to overlook the objective reality of how much things have improved. I think we are approaching the point of self sustaining progress. The Iraqis are increasingly taking the initiative and moving forward. They are smart, adaptive and sick of war. After literally generations of oppression and conflict, they want to get on with the pursuits of peace, a peace made possible by the security umbrella the Marines provided.
We did the right thing in Anbar and we generally did it right. I am proud that my team and I have played a small part in the new strategy that is making this possible.
When I read the media about Iraq, it seems very different from what I see being here. It reminds me of the old Groucho Marx line (with the media playing Groucho), “What are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Sorry if I choose to believe what I see myself.