Despite the fact that July 2008 saw an increase in insurgent activity, Lt. Col. Robert Molinari reported that it was really "nothing out of the norm." A senior Iraqi commander added: "We've limited their movements with checkpoints. They are doing small attacks and trying big ones, but they're mostly not succeeding." American and Iraqi forces clearly were getting the upper hand, demonstrated then through the dip in the number of U.S. casualties to the lowest number since the start of the war -- 11 deaths in the entire country.
Overall, attacks in Mosul and in Ninevah province have declined from 50 a day at the start of the year to the present number of 10 a day -- almost the same as the number was in 2006. Open street fighting is a rarity. That is why Maj. Ra'ad Jalal, an Iraqi officer, said: "The security situation in Mosul is improving. It's safe here now. I'd be happy to come here even without all of this protection."
Of course, assaults continue. But they don't diminish the momentous progress. Capt. Hunter Bowers, who presently is serving on the battlefield in Mosul, summarized his upbeat thoughts about their progress to me by e-mail Monday: "We have had some great success here and a lot of it has to do with the integration of the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police."
Unfortunately, instead of reporting these substantial advances being made in Mosul, mainstream American media have chosen to ignore them, favoring to continue to report only negative news from the war zones or repeated jabs by Democratic leaders about the unfounded grounds for the war. (I've been sadly amazed and gravely amused how often progress in war is played out not on the battlefield, but in the backrooms of news broadcasting studios.)
With another Pearl Harbor anniversary approaching and in a Christmas season when the sacrifice of our troops is accentuated by their absence from loved ones, it's fitting to honor, not overlook, those who fight for freedom. Find ways to commemorate their courage and commitment. Admonish others to watch positive and honorable tributes to our service members, such as those on the Military Channel and those created by director Mike Slee of Zaragoza Pictures, a documentary filmmaker whose mission also is to capture the progress of our troops -- including those in Mosul. (See his Mosul footage here.)
The fact is American coalition forces have reduced the number of al-Qaida fighters in Iraq from roughly 12,000 to 1,200, have cornered them in Mosul, and are successfully gaining the upper hand on their remaining strongholds. That is why Gen. James Conway, the head of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, summarized, "Iraq is now a rear-guard action on the part of al-Qaida." In fact, he says that security is so good around the country that for the first time, it "smells like victory," adding that next year, as many as 20,000 Marines currently deployed will return home.
And just in time for President-elect Barack Obama to begin his withdrawal of our troops -- an act that likely will be a signal broadcasting victory in Iraq and likely will earn the new commander in chief credit for military success. Now there's a 2009 news story that America's mainstream media will be guaranteed to run over and over.
(In the spirit of Christmas, Chuck is giving away a free chapter from his current New York Times best-seller, "Black Belt Patriotism." To obtain yours, go to www.ChuckNorrisNewBook.com. "Black Belt Patriotism" makes a great Christmas gift for anyone!)