At Thursday’s Pentagon Blogger’s Roundtable, I heard some profoundly optimistic and potentially remarkable news coming from the deputy commander of the Multinational Division North (MND-North), Army Brigadier General James Boozer, Sr.
Gen. Boozer’s A/O begins in the Diyala province on the northern outskirts of Baghdad and runs all the way to the northern border of Iraq. Undeniably, there have been numerous accounts of success stories of driving Al Qaeda out and actually keeping them out thanks to the local populations.
But I haven’t heard anything resembling this statement come from the mouths of generals since the surge began – or really in the last few years for that matter.
“This is a turning point… I think in the next 12-15 months, we’re going to make history… we’re going to allow the nation of Iraq to build itself.”
That was his answer to my challenging him on being too “optimistic” in his statements that we were at some “turning point” to the political reconciliation end goal of the surge.
Gen. Boozer also shared with me a story from this past weekend – a meeting he attended in Diyala, a former AQI stronghold.
“The meeting brought together all interested parties – Iraqi security forces, Iraqi Army leaders, Iraqi Police, representatives from the Central Govt, the National Security Director, Sunni Sheiks and Shia Sheiks… all discussing reconciliation.”
If Boozer is correct and this security situation holds that is allowing the necessary breathing room for the political strengthening… we could be seeing the very first indications of the legacy of the surge: One Unified Iraq.
Though I am realist – and know the incredible fragility of this situation. Look no further to the incredible damage the bombing of a mosque in Samarra had on the situation two years ago.
However, it is a remarkable thing to hear a general suggesting that we may actually see “success” where others like retired General Ricardo Sanchez sees “a nightmare with no end in sight.”
And one last thing… Gen. Boozer will promote his own son in Iraq on December 1st to the rank of Sergeant. Here were his words of advice that he offered upon finding out that his own son would soon share the battlefield with him:
“Stay true to yourself and know the work you will do is probably the most important work you’ll ever do… and write your mother every day.”