I know, I know, it doesn't solve the problem of Iran trying to obtain nuclear capabilities, but any news that comes out that means less munitions killing our troops, is good news, in and of itself.
The number of armor-piercing bombs in Iraq that the United States says have been provided by Iran has declined in the past few months, a senior U.S. commander said on Thursday.
Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. top commander in Iraq for day-to-day operations, said it was too soon to say whether the drop meant Iran had cut back on smuggling arms into Iraq.
Washington accuses Iran of supplying so-called explosively formed penetrators or projectiles (EFPs), a particularly deadly form of roadside bomb, to extremists in Iraq, mainly Shi'ite militias. Iran denies fueling violence in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was sure Iran's elite Qods force knew about the weapons smuggling and believed top Iranian leaders including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were probably aware of it too.
He said he understood that, behind the scenes, the Iranians had given assurances to Iraq that the flow of arms would stop.
"I don't know whether to believe them. I'll wait and see," Gates said.
With EFP attacks killing U.S. troops, Iran's role in Iraq has added to tension between the U.S. and Iranian governments, which are also at odds over Iran's nuclear program.
"Although we still have, in my mind, way too many explosively formed projectiles, in the last few months that has been on a downward trend," said Odierno, briefing reporters at the Pentagon by videolink from Iraq.
There can be a number of reasons for this.
Recently we posted as we saw reports that the SAS was conducting operations into Iran:
BRITISH special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces, defense sources have disclosed.
There have been at least half a dozen intense firefights between the SAS and arms smugglers, a mixture of Iranians and Shi’ite militiamen.
The unreported fighting straddles the border between Iran and Iraq and has also involved the Iranian military firing mortars into Iraq. UK commanders are concerned that Iran is using a militia ceasefire to step up arms supplies in preparation for an offensive against their base at Basra airport.
An SAS squadron is carrying out operations along the Iranian border in Maysan and Basra provinces with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operations troops...
In that same post we showed operations underway to build a watch tower at the Iran-Iraq border to stem the flow of weapons.
ZURBATIYA, Iraq - About 300 trucks cross the border here every day, ferrying fruit, rugs and building supplies from Iran - and, if U.S. authorities are to be believed, illegal weapons.
Intercepting the smuggled arms should be simple enough, because shipments have to be unloaded from Iranian trucks and transferred to Iraqi trucks at the border. The trouble is, the reloading is done on the Iranian side, behind a wall.
So the U.S. is planning to build a 100-foot watchtower for Iraqi border agents. This solution is one of many to seal a 900-mile desert and mountain border that U.S. authorities allege is used by smugglers to ferry Iranian-made explosives and rockets used in attacks against Iraqi civilians, police and U.S. forces.
Iraq officials have come away from meetings with Iran officials assuring them that Iran would do its part to stop the weapon flow into Iraq from Iran.
Any one of these things or a mixture of all of them with things we haven't seen reports of yet, could be responsible, but either way, less Iranian linked bombs is good news for our troops in Iraq and therefore it is good news for us.
More good news comes from Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, via VOA.
Lieutenant General Ray Odierno says coalition casualties declined in October for the fifth consecutive month to 50 killed in action. He says attacks by the insurgents' deadliest weapons, hidden bombs, are also down. The general also says Iraqi civilian deaths declined for the fourth consecutive month to fewer than 1,000, but Iraqi government statistics reported Thursday indicate a slight increase from September to October.
Speaking later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the security improvements in Iraq are a direct result of the surge of U.S. forces earlier this year.
"It is due in the first instance to the surge, and then the consequences of the surge, and some of the things the surge has led to in al-Anbar and some of the areas around Baghdad at this point," he said.
General Odierno, speaking via satellite from Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon, the surge of U.S. forces earlier this year significantly degraded the ability of al-Qaida in Iraq and Shi'ite militants to carry out attacks.
At the same time, he reports, the Iraqi security forces have continued to improve their capability, and more Iraqis are cooperating with the government and the coalition, rather than with the militants. The general believes the United States will be able to end the surge as planned, reducing its troop presence by 25 percent within a year, without causing a resurgence of violence.
"I believe that we will be able to move forward with the progress, based on the progress we have made against the enemy, based on the continued improvement of the Iraqi security forces, and continued on the support of the population we are now receiving, I feel that we will be able to continue to hold on to the gains that we have," he said.
But General Odierno also cautioned that the gains are "not yet irreversible." He said the Iraqi government needs to do a better job of providing basic services to people in areas where security has improved. And he says the government needs to move forward with long-pending legislation, and also with practical aspects of reconciliation.
"If we can provide services on a consistent basis, that will bring about much more reduction in violence than military operations. And so, I agree with that. As well as continued movement toward reconciliation. So, I think those are the keys. I think those could be the tipping point, if we can get those things moving," he said.
General Odierno says the government also needs to allow more Sunnis to join the new Iraqi police force. He says there is now a process to do that, and the coalition command is involved.
All is not wine and roses and will not be for a while, but this, in conjunction with the news this morning about the Iraqi Islamic Party declaring that they have defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq as well as the other good news that has been reported on over the last few months, shows that we have finally found the right formula that has brought about a massive turn in the tides of Iraq.
Go read the other recent good news your media probably hasn't shown you yet.
Still more good news over at Centcom with the daily news releases show us that another AQI commander has been captured and Iraqi citizens are still leading coalition forces to weapons caches, Karbala Province has officially been handed over to Iraqi security forces, which is seen as a positive step to Iraqi self-reliance, (Note: Karbala Province is the eighth province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility) Coalition forces are disrupting terrorist networks, and as we told you the other day, the Tamimi and Jibouri tribes, the two largest tribes in Iraq’s Diyala province, met Oct. 24 to discuss the importance of reconciliation and signed a fellowship agreement stressing cooperation and friendship between the two tribes.
Thats not all... Hat tip To Vets for Victory
Good news continues to flow from Baghdad
• Northwest Baghdad has seen an 85% reduction in violence since
May of this year. Of 95 neighborhoods in the area, 58 of them are now
considered under control. Thirty-three remain in a clearing status, with
violence continuing to go down, and only four remain in a disrupted
• Murders are down from a peak of over 161 reported per week a
year ago to less than five per week now, and efforts to defeat sectarian
expansion continue to drive these numbers down.
• IED and small arms attacks are down from a peak of 50 per week
in June to less than five per week since the end of August. VBIED
attacks are down nearly 85% due to combined efforts to defeat the Karkh
VBIED and IED networks --which has had a tremendous impact on insurgents'
ability to instruct and employ those types of weapons effectively.
Source - Colonel JB Burton, commanding forces in Baghdad
All in all, not a bad week for news about Iraq.
[Update] This morning I see that Wapo decides to mention the decline of Iranian bombs, but as Don Surber notes, it is relegated to page A18.