The following came to me via CJ, and it should be read fully and understood. I am copying it in it's entirety here since I believe this IS what the mission in Iraq is all about. Now, more than ever, I believe it is important that ALL American voters understand the progress that has been made in Iraq:
Two-Thirds Of Iraq's Provinces Now Under Iraqi Control
"Earlier Today, In Yet Another Sign Of Security Improvements In Iraq, Primary Security Was Turned Back Over To The Iraqis In The Province Of Babil … South Of Baghdad And Home To The Ruins Of The Ancient City Of Babylon … It Becomes The 12th Of 18 Provinces To Take A Lead For Its Security Operations In Iraq."
– White House Press Secretary Dana Perino
Associated Press: "The U.S. relinquished control of a southern province that includes Sunni areas once known as the 'triangle of death,' handing security responsibility to the Iraqi government on Thursday."
"Babil is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be handed over and a sign of the improving security. U.S. forces will remain in the area to assist the Iraqis when needed."
"At a transfer ceremony held near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon, Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said security gains have been remarkable – with the number of attacks falling about 80 percent from an average of 20 per week a year ago. But he cautioned that 'while the enemies of Iraq are down, they are not necessarily defeated."
"With Babil's handover to the Iraqi government, the only province left under U.S. control in southern Iraq is Wasit, a rural desert region that borders Iran and has been a conduit for the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq."
"Salim al-Musilmawi, Babil's provincial governor, credited tribal leaders and Sunnis who turned against al-Qaida in Iraq in a U.S.-funded revolt with the downturn in violence."
"Today's security handover is the fruit of the victory over al-Qaida,' he said." (Bradley Klapper, "US Turns Over Control Of 12th Iraqi Province," Associated Press, 10/23/08)
Ambassador Crocker and General Odierno: "The United States Embassy – Iraq and Multi-National Force-Iraq welcome the transfer of security in Babil Province to Iraqi responsibility as a positive step on the path to Iraq's self-reliance.
Babil is the twelfth province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility. The first province transferred to Government of Iraqi security control was Muthanna in July 2006, followed by Dhi Qar, An Najaf, Maysan, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk, Karbala, Basrah, Qadisiyah, and most recently Anbar in September 2008.
The achievement in Babil Province means that now fully two-thirds of Iraq's provinces have assumed security responsibility.
Iraqi Security Forces in Babil have been operating independently for the past several months. Working with local government and military officials, they have demonstrated their readiness to assume responsibility for the provincial security of Babil. Today this responsibility is theirs.
The transition of responsibility for security in Babil Province is an important step. The provincial and military leadership in Babil will have to work cooperatively in order to maintain the security necessary for long-term economic prosperity. We will assist as needed. The United States Embassy and Multi-National Force-Iraq congratulate the Government of Iraq on this important milestone." (Joint Statement by Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and General Raymond Odierno, Press Release, 10/23/08)
Babil is the twelfth province to achieve Provincial Iraqi Control.
In June 2005, Iraq's Prime Minister announced a joint decision between the Iraqi government and Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) to systematically hand over security responsibility in Iraq's 18 provinces to the Provincial Civil Authorities under the control of the province's governor. The responsibility for security in each province will become that of the Local and National Iraqi Police Service (IPS), the Iraqi Army (IA), and elements of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Ministry of Interior (MOI).
The Joint Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility (JCTSR), comprised of Iraqi, MNF-I and Embassy representatives, was commissioned in July 2005 to develop a set of conditions assessing the readiness of each province for Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC).
The Selection Process:
The selection of a province for transfer of sovereignty is based on an exhaustive examination of criteria:
The perceived Security Threat Level
The ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to accept the responsibility for maintaining security
The proficiency of the Provincial Governor in managing security enforcement matters
The ability of the Multi National Force - Iraq to react to any request from the Prime Minister of Iraq for assistance with the maintenance of security, should such a request be received.