This week marks the three year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Three years ago, we began a mission that has resulted in the toppling of a tyrannical dictator, the creation of a democratic government, and the freedom of a nation.
In the past three years, we’ve seen impressive progress on three important fronts: security, government, and economic development. Certainly, there have been hardships and set backs, but American troops together with our allies and the Iraqi people are proving that freedom triumphs tyranny, and liberty rises over oppression.
It is important to reflect on how much we’ve accomplished in Iraq. On the political front, we have seen encouraging signs of a flourishing democracy. The Iraqi people participated in free and fair elections, supported a constitution that respects the rights of all ethnic groups, and elected a representative government that respects the rule of law.
On the security front, Iraqi troops are being trained to secure their own land. Three years after the initial invasion, 240,000 Iraqi Security Forces have been trained and equipped – nearly double the number of American troops currently serving in Iraq. Earlier this month, the 6th Iraqi Armed Division assumed responsibility for western Baghdad and eastern Abu Ghraib. As President Bush commented last week, “As Iraqis stand up, America and our coalition will stand down.” By helping build a secure Iraq, our soldiers can come home knowing their mission was successfully accomplished.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Iraq to visit the brave Georgia troops serving in the War on Terror. One evening, while I was having dinner with members of the 48th Brigade Combat Unit of the Army National Guard, I met a young sergeant who shared with me some inspiring words. I asked him about his time in Iraq and the morale of our troops. He told me the difference between the Iraqi people and the American people was that Americans have hope and opportunity. He saw it as his mission to bring this hope and opportunity to the Iraqis. I was deeply inspired by this sergeant’s commitment to wining the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
As I learned on my trip, our troops are involved in a tremendous amount of humanitarian work to help the Iraqis build a better Iraq. As a physician, I was very impressed with the community health center we visited, which is providing free and life-saving care to Iraqi citizens. Our Georgia troops are building schools for Iraqi children who currently get their education in mud huts. And our soldiers are constructing wells for villages that now have fresh water for the first time.
I am so proud of our men and women in uniform and the historic work they are doing in Iraq. In the past three years, they have helped a nation defeat a murderous and repressive regime and embrace the gifts of democracy and freedom. Every day, the Iraqi people live with less fear of assassination, torture, murder, and poverty. Every day, the Iraqi troops and government are using the rule of law to secure freedom and increased security for their people.
Our mission is not yet complete, and our resolve for a free Iraq is as strong as every. We must support our troops with the equipment, weapons, and moral encouragement they need to continue taking the fight to our enemies. We can not underestimate the vital importance of this war on the safety and security of our nation. Iraq is at the forefront of the global war on terror, and our resolve in this fight sends a resounding message to terrorist across the globe that freedom will always prevail.