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Public Statements

U. S. Service Members' Success in Iraq

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I congratulate the Senator from Texas, Senator Hutchison, for her tremendous effort in organizing Members to come to the floor to tell the other side of story in Iraq.

It started with a series of e-mails that I received from different people, from constituents to folks who weren't constituents, who complained to me--these are soldiers in-country--that they were becoming frustrated because every day they would be out there on the frontlines in-country, serving, sacrificing for our country and accomplishing great deeds and then would have to turn on CNN and other news shows and read the clips from the American newspapers and see a war being described which they were not seeing. They were not seeing the war as being an IED every day but seeing, every day, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis working with our American military forces to make Iraq a more stable and safe place.

I, along with Senator Hutchison and my colleagues, have decided it is time to start going around the mainstream media and telling the other side of the story.

I came from a press conference downstairs where I had four civilian independent military bloggers. These are people who have been in-country--one is going to be in-country in the next couple of weeks, one who is the wife of someone who is heading to Iraq--talking about the military blog, talking about all of the information that is now populating the Internet, of people who are actually there in-country, telling their stories, people who are making a difference every single day in the lives of Iraqis.

One such person is Captain Jim Bentzley, who is from suburban Philadelphia, who wrote to me a month and a half ago. He said:

The reason I'm writing to you about this mission is because I do not believe that the American public realizes how well we are working with the new Iraqi military. In my own shop, the mission could not be accomplished without the help and, cooperation of my Iraqi troop-employees. Likewise, I help them by guiding them through the U.S. military's logistics system. I'm also trying to educate them past the military logistics by introducing them to some of my civilian-experience and U.S. business logistics practices: lean logistics and six sigma. Efficiency is a new concept for them ..... but I believe I can get through to them so that when we, Americans, leave this place, the Iraqis will pick up the mission seamlessly.

I would like you to visit my operation so that you can see the way we work with the Iraqis and so that the American people can also see. There are a lot of good things going on over here and most of them deal with people and the close relationships that are being formed--this is definitely not seen by America; America only seems to see the darker side of Iraq. Friendships that will last a lifetime are starting here, and they are friendships between former enemies. I realize I've only been here, in Iraq, for a couple of weeks, but already I consider my Iraqi counterparts close friends.

Corporal Mindo Estrella, from Erie, PA said:

I like working with the [Iraqi Army] and teaching them our tactics. I think that they've learned what we are teaching them and one day will be able to take over operations.

Corporal Estrella reenlisted. in the Marine Corps this past October, shortly after his battalion arrived: in Iraq. He said:

I like what I do, It gets rough at times, but nobody made me come out here. I signed the contract knowing what I was getting myself into.

He reenlisted last month. He said he likes what he does. He feels he is making a difference in transforming the country of Iraq.

LCpl Dan Williams said the same thing. He arrived in mid-March and has worked in-country, in Fallujah, to identify lots of insurgents and is working with the people now. He says he is getting the intelligence from the people in the community, where originally they were hesitant to work with them. Now most of the intelligence they are gathering is from Iraqi civilians who realize that it is now in their best interests for their country that they want to fight for to cooperate not with the American military but also with the Iraqi military in rooting out insurgents in their country.

We are making tremendous, positive steps.

I am going to be working, over the next several months, to make sure that the stories of the people who are on the frontline, who are fighting the war in the trenches, have their stories told to the American public and not people sitting in editorial rooms in New York City trying to spin what is going on in the mainstream of Iraq.

For example,

news comes that America has suffered the loss of 2,048 brave servicemen and women in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The loss of any soldier in the cause of freedom grieves us all; especially the parents, wives, husbands and children of each deceased loved one. As elected officials, we don't know these soldiers as numbers, but as people, with hopes and dreams, family and friends. Knowing them as we do, it is hard to imagine the loss of any of them.

As great as the loss is, it can only compound a family's sadness to hear some say that the loss of their loved one was neither for the protection of America or the freedom of man. Yet we hear it regularly. Critics say Iraq posed no threat, as there was no link in Iraq to the war on terror. Or that securing freedom in the Middle East is impossible or isn't worth one American life.

To those who have lost their loved ones, don't believe these critics. Don't let those poisoned words take root in your heart.

As you hear of the 2,048th soldier lost, there is another number that demonstrates the protection of Americans here, and the preservation of freedom around the world. And that number, as best we can ascertain, stood at 450 last month.

Over 450 suicide bombers have attacked in Iraq. That is over 450 suicide bombers who did not strike at America's homeland, did not strike at our embassies, our ships, our civilians around the globe. It is your sons and daughters who have protected America from these 450 plus suicide bombers.

The suicide bomber represents that greatest threat to America, to democracies, to civilized society, and to peace. Stopping suicide bombers from attacking America and our allies is the foremost goal of the War on Terror. Without terrorists, planes, trains, boats, cars, and buses are moving gifts to society. Add a single terrorist, and they are transformed into weapons of mass death and destruction.

With one suicide bomber, a stolen van filled with explosives cost the U.S. Embassy in Beirut 63 lives, including 17 Americans. With one suicide bomber, a delivery truck took out the Marine Barracks in Beirut, costing the lives of 241 U.S. Marines. With just two suicide bombers, a small boat hit the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors. With just four suicide bombers, the London subway and buses became the final destination for 52 civilians. With just 19 suicide bombers, four airliners made for one of America's darkest days by killing nearly 3,000 innocent people.

The suicide bomber is the foremost weapon of terrorism today. So how can anyone say that 450 ex-suicide bombers in Iraq has not protected American lives?

Critics of this war insist that it is America's presence in Iraq that has created the 450 plus suicide bombers in Iraq. Did America's presence in Iraq cause the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993? Did our presence in Iraq compel terrorist to attack us on 9/11? The answer is no. It was our existence in the world that compelled the terrorists to attack us, time and again. These suicide bombers existed and attacked America before, on, and after 9/11, and well before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Frankly, I am stunned that after 9/11 that anyone in a position of power would assume the peaceful intentions of one suicide bomber, much less each and every one of the 450 ex-suicide bombers in Iraq.

So I believe that 450 fewer suicide bombers does make America safer, and our brave men and women in uniform serving in Iraq have protected America from these cowards.

On the Marine Corps website is a story about Lance Corporal Dan Williams, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst from Murrysville, PA with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment currently conducting security and stability operations in and around Fallujah. Part of Lance Corporal Williams' mission is to piece together fragments of data on terrorist identities, connections, and locations. This information is used to determine where and when to apprehend these individuals, and what type of threat they may face upon arrival. Since his unit arrived in Iraq in mid-March 2005, Lance Corporal Williams and his fellow Marines have helped to apprehend dozens of insurgent supporters and to unearth several weapons caches in the area.

As for this fight for freedom, we now have a democratically-elected constitution in place in Iraq. Will freedom and democracy take root and flourish in Iraq?

We cannot say right now. But, when we laid to rest the 1,500 American soldiers that perished on D-Day in the grave at Normandy, no one could say whether freedom would take in post-Nazi Germany. When we laid to rest those 6,891 fallen soldiers at Iwo Jima, no one could say that militaristic Japan would become a democratic nation. None of those tens of thousands who fought and died in the hot chapter of the Cold War knew that freedom would ever arise behind the Iron Curtain, much less survive. And even here in America, as we buried the 4,435 lost in total at Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Bennington, Cowpens, and Yorktown, no one could say for certain that a government of, for, and by the people would take. But it did.

Each of those who died in all these battles never knew if freedom and liberty would result from their sacrifice. Rather, they died for the hope and dream that it might exist and flourish, both here and elsewhere for our fellow man.

It is so unfortunate that so often critics of this war fail to tell the stories of success coming out of Iraq; the stories which prove that our U.S. servicemembers are working with the Iraqis to help them to sustain this newfound freedom by helping the strengthen their armies.

The stories of success from our soldiers and sailors in Iraq need to be told. Our soldiers need to know that their bravery and hard work in Iraq is not in vain.

This new chance for freedom in this part of the world is due entirely to the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, and their families.

I say to our servicemen and women and your families--Our nation owes you our gratitude, and we honor you for bestowing the immeasurable gift of freedom. We thank each and every one of you.

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