None of this is particularly helpful in explaining to the American people what's really happening and what it means. To that end, I contacted some of the coalition personnel with whom our Fox News' "War Stories" team was embedded last December during our ninth trip to Iraq. Here is a synopsis of what those with "boots on the ground" have to say about our Iraqi allies and their adversaries:
-- The Iraqis planned and executed the operation with little U.S. involvement and managed to commit more than 40,000 troops in high-intensity combat against well-armed, militia terrorists in six cities -- a feat that would have been impossible just six months ago.
-- Conventional Iraqi army and police units operated effectively together in multiple large-scale, simultaneous urban combat for the first time. Though there were inevitable snafus, most of the problems were logistical, not operational. All commended the courage and tenacity of the Iraqi soldiers.
-- The Iraqi special operations forces and Hillah SWAT units, with which we were embedded in December, killed or captured more than 200 "high-profile criminals" for which they had arrest warrants. Most of those apprehended or killed were renegade members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (the Mahdi army).
-- Intelligence collected during the operation confirms that Iranian Quds Force fighters have heavily infiltrated southern Iraq and that Iranian weapons, explosives and equipment continue to be delivered to areas previously controlled by the Mahdi army.
-- Though the Iraqi security forces lack the sophisticated casualty evacuation and medical treatment available to U.S. troops, their compassion toward wounded and injured noncombatants rallied civilians to the side of the Iraqi government.
One U.S. commander summed it up this way: "This was a necessary operation, and it couldn't have happened without 'the surge.' By going after the Shiite militias, Maliki has proven to the Sunnis that he intends to be evenhanded in the process of bringing law and order to Iraq. The Iraqi troops fought well in both day and night operations. Their officers and NCOs are leading from the front. The militias -- and their Iranian sponsors -- got their butts kicked."
On Tuesday, Petraeus and Crocker likely will use less colorful language to describe the increasing effectiveness and challenges facing our Iraqi allies. The only question: Are the administration's critics willing to listen?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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