INHOFE RETURNS FROM IRAQ TRIP AFTER

“Progress and Success in Iraq has Exceeded Expectations”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe just returned from his 10th trip to the Iraq/Afghanistan – CENTCOM Theater to visit troops fighting the Global War on Terror. Since hostilities began, Inhofe has been on the ground a total of six times in Iraq and once in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Djibouti, and aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in the Persian Gulf. According to a recent report, only three other Senators have been to Iraq as often as Inhofe. The Senator made the following statement upon his return.

“Having been in Iraq just hours ago I can tell you that in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the coalition forces have achieved incredible accomplishments culminating in today’s parliamentary elections. As I met with general officers in Baghdad and Fallujah, including General Casey, I was briefed on our military’s individual successes and I can say for a fact that we are winning the war to stabilize Iraq. We have seen a drop in suicide bombings of 70 percent in the last 90 days, and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks have decreased some 30 percent since October.

“The Iraqi people are fed up with terrorists murdering innocent Iraqis and they are strongly standing-up for themselves. In fact, the amount of insurgent tips the coalition receives from Iraqis has skyrocketed from an average of 500 a month to 4700 in September alone! This data projects a very positive trend and codifies the conclusion that we are successfully driving a wedge between Iraqis and the terrorists.

“The Coalition’s continued training of the Iraqi Security Forces, again led by the United States Military, has produced capable Iraqi Army and Security forces who have increasingly assumed security and combat roles in Iraq. In fact, Iraqi Security Forces now control 50 percent of the Baghdad ‘battlespace’ and are projected to control 75 percent by March. Only ten moths ago they controlled NONE of Baghdad’s battlespace. In the course of only one year the Iraqis have built a functioning military that controls half the battlespace at the center of gravity in this fight to stabilize Iraq. The Iraqis are taking the fight to the insurgents as our troops transition to an ‘over the horizon force,’ we are out of sight and the Iraqi forces operate with minimal support from Coalition Forces.

“These facts are evidence of clear progress that cannot be explained away by the partisan politics of naysayer’s, some of whom feel they may benefit from the failure of this war. It is most certainly our intention to bring our troops home as soon as possible, but we will not abandon the Iraqis and we will not leave until they stand on their own to defend their nation.

“I believe that time will arrive earlier than much of the media will admit. Currently we have trained 214,000 Iraqi Security Forces and will have 220,000 by the end of this year. Furthermore, we will have trained 300,000 by end of 2006 and 325,000 by July 2007. It is at this final level that we will see the Iraqis standing almost completely on their own, securing their country and protecting their citizens.

“In our partnership with the Iraqi people we have shared our respective cultures with one another. A lesson Washington should learn from the Iraqis is how they approach current operations in Iraq. The Iraqi people told me they must focus on the future of their nation and stop arguing over the mistakes of the past. They know that partisan bickering over past mistakes will cost them dearly as they try to unify and rebuild their country. We should follow their example. We owe it to America’s brave soldiers in Iraq to focus on the future of this mission and support their efforts to bolster the Iraqi’s budding democracy.”