Rehberg Returns From Iraq with Reports of Progress
December 2, 2005
BILLINGS, MT - Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, returned from his second tour of Iraq this week, after a six-day trip that Rehberg said gave him an opportunity to "see for himself" the progress that's been made since his first trip in December of 2003.
"I can tell you that progress is, in fact, being made. They're a long ways away from where they need to be as a country, but they're doing the best they can," said Rehberg, who noted the Iraqi Police and Military forces are maintaining more and more of the country.
"Fifty-percent of Baghdad is now in the hands of the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Military. Twenty-percent of Iraq, as a whole, is under the hands of the Iraqi Military forces. It was nowhere close to those kinds of numbers when I was there the last time," said Rehberg.
Rehberg was in Iraq as part of a six-member Congressional Delegation of Armed Services and Appropriations Committee members, including Kendrick Meek, (D-FL), Tim Ryan, (D-OH), Adam Smith, (D-WA), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Bill Shuster, (R-PA). The delegation spent time visiting American soldiers and officers, coalition military officials, and Iraqi civilian and military officials in and around Baghdad and Mosul. Rehberg is a member of the Military Quality of Life, and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees
"We (American forces) are there at the request of a legitimate government, and we're trying to see that peace occurs within Iraq. Not only internally, but externally, so they are at peace with their surrounding countries," Rehberg said at a Billings press conference today. "We're trying to help them establish a democratic system, which they have to do themselves, and they realize it's going to be difficult. The December elections are another milestone for them, with over 200 parties involved."
Rehberg said he met with Montanans while in Iraq, recalling a soldier from Butte who was assigned to security duty while the delegation was in Mosul, and another soldier originally from Billings, whose mother is friends with Denny and his wife Jan, who both grew up in Billings.
"The Iraqi people we met with are thankful we are there, they asked us not to immediately withdraw that we help them provide security within their country, help them establish democracy and prosperity within their country; the prosperity they had before Saddam Hussein was in power."