Big story from the New York Times:
WASHINGTON, April 10 – Two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the American-led military campaign in Iraq is making enough progress in fighting insurgents and training Iraqi security forces to allow the Pentagon to plan for significant troop reductions by early next year, senior commanders and Pentagon officials say.
Reporter Eric Schmitt continues:
The American military’s priority has shifted from waging offensive operations to training Iraqi troops and police officers. Iraqi forces now oversee sections of Baghdad and Mosul, with American forces on call nearby to help in a crisis. More than 2,000 American military advisers are working directly with Iraqi forces.
More Iraqi civilians are defying the insurgents’ intimidation to give Iraqi forces tips on the locations of hidden roadside bombs, weapons caches and rebel safe houses. The Pentagon says that more than 152,000 Iraqis have been trained and equipped for the military or the police, but the quality and experience of those forces varies widely. Also, the Government Accountability Office said in March that those figures were inflated, including perhaps tens of thousands of police officers who are absent from duty.
Interviews with more than a dozen senior American and Iraqi officers, top Pentagon officials and lawmakers who have visited Iraq yield an assessment that the combination of routing insurgents from their sanctuary in Falluja last November and the Iraqi elections on Jan. 30 has given the military operation sustained momentum, and put the Bush administration’s goal of turning Iraq over to a permanent, elected Iraqi government within striking distance.
This is all good news, even though all of it is delivered with caution: We ain’t out of the woods yet, both Schmitt and American military commanders repeat throughout.
Most of what we see on TV or on the front pages of most newspapers has led us to believe we’ve been losing ground in Iraq this whole time. That the insurgents were unbeatable. That the election was doomed. That Iraq’s political growing pains were certainly the latest signs of failure.
And then – boom! – out of seemingly nowhere, comes a report that the Coalition is feeling confident enough, and the Iraq is growing strong enough, that it will soon be time to draw down our troop strength.
Of course, chickenhawk bloggers and their readers have been linking to and providing positive news stories for months now. But for the rest of the American public, today’s front page news will come as no small shock.
The MSM should have learned to get ahead of (or at least on) the curve following their failure to get the story right during Afghanistan’s election. If not then, then at least they should have gotten a clue after getting it all wrong in the lead-up to Iraq’s election.
Get on the ball, boys – the public is tired of MSM-induced whiplash.