Jun 29 2007
The Surge has completed much of its first phase objectives – to clear key areas of al-Qaeda. Anbar Province has remained quiet as Diyala Province, especially its capitol city Baquoba, is in the last stages of clearing out al-Qaeda:
With almost no hostile fire reported in days, combat operations are winding down. The focus of the effort now is to consolidate control and persuade local residents to begin cooperating with U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces.
The overall intent of this phase of the Baqouba operation, said Capt. Issac Torres, commander of Company C, is to â€œlock down the local population and keep pressure on themâ€ until they begin turning in al-Qaida and other insurgents who remain in the city.
Although fighting to retake Baqouba proved much easier than expected, the next 60 days will prove crucial as U.S. and Iraqi government forces try to win over the local population and restart the economy and government services.
The clearing part is not over everywhere. There are pockets still to be cleaned out. But the hard part now starts (the dangerous part was the clearing operations). Now we need to hold these gains and foster a re-awakening of Iraqi society. That will take some time. Time America needs to provide in order to make all the deaths worthwhile and not wasted. For so many to give their lives, I am sure America can return the favor and give this some time.