Wicker Responds to Testimony from Gen. Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker

April 8, 2008

WASHINGTON – Following testimony today about conditions in Iraq by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a member of the committee, released the following statement:

“I appreciate the honest assessment given today by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker about the situation on the ground in Iraq.  The two of them – and the dedicated men and women in our military – deserve our country’s thanks for the remarkable work they continue to do.

“There can be no mistaking the progress made in Iraq.  From June 2007 to February 2008, deaths resulting from sectarian violence in Baghdad dropped 90 percent, while American casualties dropped 70 percent.  Security improvements across the country have made political reconciliation possible, with Iraqis making real progress on benchmark legislation on such critical issues as provincial elections, de-Baathification, amnesty and the budget.

“While progress has been made, challenges and threats still remain.  The Iraqi Security Forces have shown steady improvement, but still have a ways to go.  Al Qaeda has been significantly weakened in Iraq, but still remains a threat.  And Iran continues to train and equip extremists, which threatens both our soldiers’ safety and the recent progress made in Iraq.

“These continued threats pose real challenges to the stability of the Middle East and the security of our nation.  This makes it more important than ever to tie decisions made about Iraq to the facts on the ground and the recommendations of General Petraeus.  I want our troops to come home as soon as possible.  However, bringing them home against the will of their commanders on the ground would endanger our national security and place at risk the recent progress made possible by the sacrifice of many.”