Most of today's news from Iraq is focusing on the roadside bomb attack that killed 10 U.S. Marines on Thursday. While we mourn the loss of those brave men, there are continuing signs that their efforts and sacrifice are making a difference in Iraq.
Last night, I received an e-mail from a former subordinate, now serving a tour in Baghdad. Among his other duties, he tracks monthly attack totals and other terrorist trends in Iraq. The November numbers have just been tabulated, and there are encouraging trends. For example:
-- Overall, the number of attacks in Iraq in Novembe was about 2,000--30% below the October total.
--Attacks in the Sunni triangle--Iraq's northern and western territories--decreased by almost 40%, and are at their lowest levels since January.
--Attacks in Baghdad dropped to their lowest level since April of this year
--Terrorist strikes using Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) were at their lowest level since February
--Suicide bombing fell to their lowest level since December of last year.
There are a number of reasons for the decrease, including the traditional lull that follows Ramadan and increased Sunni participation in the political process. But the biggest reason for the drop is the valiant work of coalition forces, who have significantly reduced enemy strongholds in the west.
Make no mistake: we still face tough days in Iraq, and statistics on decreased attacks offer little comfort to the family of a fallen solider or marine. But their sacrifices have not been in vain. We are clearly making progress in Iraq, and we owe it our fallen heroes to finish the job, once and for all.