Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) traveled to Iraq over the Easter weekend to visit with US Troops, Military leaders and get a first hand account of the progress in Iraq.
Morale is good amongst our troops on the ground in Iraq, said Poe. I had the opportunity to talk with many of the brave young men and women on the front lines and get their opinions on our progress. These are amazing people, the worlds finest military, and they firmly believe in what they are doing and said they have seen remarkable progress with the latest troop surge.
This was Congressman Poe's second Congressional visit to Iraq. Poe serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Terrorism Subcommittee and a Member of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.
From the Cleveland Advocate, by Vanesa Brashier:
A winnable war: Poe feels the U.S. is making strides in Iraq
|Congressman Ted Poe rides a Blackhawk helicopter during his visit to Iraq. He marveled at the crews of the choppers, calling them "an unusual bunch." Poe was impressed by their fearlessness and skill.|
U.S. Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) feels it is incumbent on every member of Congress to go to Iraq to better understand how the war is being fought and won by the American military.
If we have to make decisions about Iraq, we have a duty to learn first-hand the situations, Poe said.
Poe recently returned from a three-day visit to Iraq, where he met with General David Petraeus and other American generals, commanders and soldiers.
The congressman from Texas came away from that trip with a deeper understanding of the progress that has been made in the five years since the war began.
Petraeus is in charge and he understands, not only the military situation, but the political situation. We do well with him in charge, said Poe. The troops and the morale are tremendous. They have a lot of confidence in their mission and feel like they can do a good job.
While there, Poe also met with Iraqi police and members of the Iraqi military. One of the changes he witnessed that was different from his first trip to Iraq was that U.S. and Iraqi forces were working together.
They are all doing their own missions and have their own responsibilities, but now you will see them working together on assignments, he said, adding that the Iraqis seem to have a deep admiration for the American military.
This cohesiveness toward common goals not only helps the security of the country, but political situations as well.
Even so, there are times when insurgents find a way to strike. Poe was in the Green Zone in Baghdad during the Easter attack in which five people were injured. Another attack on Mosul resulted in over 50 deaths, including 13 Iraqi soldiers.
Poe was preparing for breakfast with Texas troops on the morning of the attack on the Green Zone.
We got a warning that there were incoming rockets. Two of them hit about 50 meters from where we were. One hit a warehouse and the motorpool. The other hit another building, he said.
When asked if the U.S. is engaged in a generation-long battle, like it was referred to by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Poe had to agree with that sentiment.
I guess we would have to go back and decide when the first terrorist attack occurred. Its already been a generation and this is a worldwide issue, but the battle for terrorism really is in the Middle East, he said. The people who hate America, hate the West, that small group is passionate in their cause and are not going to sit around a table and reason with us. They are long past that stage. Its going to be a long endeavor and the American people need to be realistic about it.
Poe talked briefly about how the presidential election is likely to impact the war in Iraq.
No matter who the president is, it would be irresponsible to say we are leaving next year. The Iraqi citizens are concerned about us leaving. You dont have to be running for president to realize that the situation would be unstable is we just pulled out, he said, adding that he feels that Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton understand whats at stake.
History is going to show we were on the brink of victory in Vietnam when we left. We got up and left just as we were ready to cross the goal line. There have always been casualties of war, but the cost of freedom is always high, Poe continued.
The naysaying and backbiting of American politics does not help the morale any, according to Poe.
It causes uncertainty among the Iraqis and we need the cooperation of Iraqi citizens to find the insurgents. When they hear we are going to leave, they are reluctant to help us, Poe said.
Though Americans are accustomed to publicly debating politics, during times of war, it can go against the war effort.
Petraeus has explained to the Iraqis that this is how America is. We debate and discuss every issue, said Poe.
The American media, he feels, has helped perpetuate the problem.
The national media do not report the big picture. Thats what the troops told me. I heard that several times, Poe said. I think the community newspapers in our country seem to understand whats going on abroad better than the national media.
Toward the end of his trip, Poe got a chance to visit with soldiers, particularly Texas troops who are quite recognizable with their Texas flags, and UT and A&M emblems emblazoned on their equipment.
What they told him is that they want the American public to understand that they are helping the Iraqi people by helping them set up a democracy.
Because of the Internet, they know everything we hear about the war on this side, he said. They want us to know that we are moving in a positive direction.