Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:The rest of Petraeus’ letter is here.
As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007.
A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war.
Now, levels of violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities.
To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done. Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you made to them.
In response to the challenges that faced Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases, delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces.
Additional U.S. and Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our Iraqi brothers fought--often house by house, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood--to wrest sanctuaries away from Al Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the streets of mafia-like criminals.
Having cleared areas, you worked with Iraqis to retain them--establishing outposts in the areas we were securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to help our efforts. This approach has not been easy.
It has required steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over the course of many months and during countless trying situations.
Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.
It can’t be said often enough: America’s military is the greatest fighting force in the world and its most important and effective human rights organization.
Take our military “off the board” and you’d have Pakistan and worse everywhere.
That’s why Al Qaeda, the Islamists and their sympathizers hate our military and those Americans who support it.
I hope in 2008 all of us who understand the importance of our military and the extraordinary sacrifices its members and their families make on our behalf will all do more to support them.