An Iowa National Guard commander who’s been on duty in Iraq since April says from his vantage point, there’s progress in building up a local police force and military so Iraq can begin to govern — and defend — itself. Lieutenant Colonel Ben Corell (kor-EL) of Strawberry Point, Iowa, leads about six-hundred-40 Iowa National Guard soldiers from the First Batallion, one-33rd Infantry who’ve been assigned to an air base about 150 miles west of Baghdad. Corell has seen an increase in numbers inside Iraqi forces, as well as American military units who’re training the Iraqis. “I’m currently out in…western Iraq and I think that I’m not going to see the same vision that someone in the Baghdad area or down south may be seeing at the same time. They may see more. I can’t answer for them, but I can tell you I’ve seen an increase within my area since I’ve arrived.” Corell describes development of those Iraqi forces is the crucial element as the “trigger mechanism” that must be in place before U.S. forces can withdraw. “If we pull out too quickly and they are not capable…of allowing their government to maintain order and discipline throughout the country then it’s going to continue to struggle,” Corell says. “Really the success for that is building up a police force that can curb the criminal activity, an army force that can guard their borders and keep insurgent activity from coming in from other countries and once they can do that, and do it successfully, then we can begin to go home. That’s my what I believe.” While some Democrats in Washington, D.C. and some Republicans, like Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa City, have called on the Bush Administration to set a date for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Corell believes announcing a timeline would prompt the insurgents to go underground until the U.S. military is out of Iraq. “And then soon after that date when we leave then they become strong again. So to put a date on it, I don’t believe that’s realistic. Would it be nice to do that? Sure it would be. That would give us a date to mark on our calendar when we would all be home,” Corell says. “But I don’t think that’s condusive to being successful in what we’re trying to do here.” He says Iraqi kids seem hopeful about their future. “As I look at the young children of Iraq…I see hope,” Corell says. “That movtivates me and it movtivates our soldiers.” Corell commands Iowa Guard soldiers from units in Waterloo, Dubuque, Oelwein, Iowa Falls and Charles City.
You are here: / / Iowa Guard commander sees progress in Iraq