Mr. BRIGHT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to praise the outstanding work of our fighting men and women stationed overseas. Too often, their work goes unnoticed, but our safety and security is contingent upon their success. On Monday, however, the entire world took notice of their excellent work.
Two of al Qaeda's top leaders were killed in a joint effort between Iraqi and U.S. forces. General Odierno said it was ``potentially the most significant blow to al Qaeda since the beginning of the insurgency.''
Their success has not been by accident nor has it been limited to Iraq. Our allies across the region are beginning to actively engage in the fight against terrorism, and it is yielding successful results. We must send a loud message that those who seek to do us harm will pay the ultimate price. I anticipate our progress will continue in the months ahead because we have a strategy and clear-cut goals in Afghanistan.
The administration and the commanders on the ground know we must root out the terrorists who still reside in the same country from which the 9/11 terror attacks originated. As a result, terrorist leaders are being captured and killed on a regular basis. Special forces and Predator drones, in coordination with the governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have captured or killed more than 600 of al Qaeda's fighters and associates in 2009 alone, far more than in 2008. This is more than triple the amount from the period of 2004-2008 combined.
The new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan helped lead to the capture of, among others, the Taliban's second in command, a former Taliban finance minister, and two shadow governors of Afghan provinces. These are the most significant captures of the Afghan Taliban leaders since the start of the war in Afghanistan.
However, as we continue to move forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must never forget about our number one target. That's Osama bin Laden. The man who was behind the 9/11 attacks must be brought to justice in order to send a
clear message that no act of terror will be able to go unpunished.
Last year I twice visited Afghanistan as part of a congressional delegation to the regions. We received briefings from both American and Afghani political leaders and their military leaders. The question I asked nearly everyone who would listen to us was, Where is Osama bin Laden, and what are we doing to capture or kill this man?
Our recent success in killing and capturing his allies gives me confidence that the appropriate steps are being taken to bring this murderer to justice. In fact, Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, recently confirmed that the military is actively trying to find and kill bin Laden. I was very pleased to hear General McChrystal confirm his commitment as he continues his excellent service in Afghanistan.
The strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq is two-pronged and not only a military endeavor. In addition to wrapping up our missions to capture and kill terrorists, we are also now placing a greater emphasis on preventing the recruitment of violent extremists by preventing these countries from returning to the conditions that fueled such hate in the past.
In fact, just a couple of hours ago, I participated in a video teleconference with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team in the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. The ``sledgehammer brigade,'' as they are nicknamed, told me about over 120 projects they have completed or will soon be completed in a five-province region in Iraq. Their efforts are a big reason we have seen significant progress and stabilization in Iraq over the past 2 years.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to support our forces in these two endeavors.