We hear a lot about the surge these days, about how it is succeeding, how it is changing the picture in Iraq, and the rationale behind the strategy. But we rarely get a glimpse of the real reason the surge is working: as always, it really comes down to the boots on the ground.
DefenseLink gives us a fine example of this with its story about Army 1st Lt Timothy Peterson of the 321st Engineer Battalion. His job: route clearance. When he first got to Ramadi and Fallujah, his IED hunters could only go out at night, and local civilians were afraid to warn his troops where the IEDs were located for fear of retribution by the insurgents.
He was there when the surge began, and when President Bush announced to the nation, “Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs,” 1st Lt Peterson was directly affected. His troops began 24-hour operations, pushing further and further into insurgent territory as the surge took hold.
He was injured during one such push, and after recovering from his wounds went right back at it.
By the time he left late last year, the scene had changed completely. He could walk the streets of Ramadi in daylight, and civilians were eager to point out the locations of the IEDs. The surge was working.
Steven Ambrose wrote that the junior officers and non-commissioned officers were the key to victory on D-Day. He could write the same thing today.
1st Lt Timothy Peterson is our hero of the week.