WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy.
"I think the 'surge' is working," the Democrat said in a videoconference from his Johnstown office, describing the president's decision to commit more than 20,000 additional combat troops this year. But the Iraqis "have got to take care of themselves."
Violence has dropped significantly in recent months, but Mr. Murtha said he was most encouraged by changes in the once-volatile Anbar province, where locals have started working closely with U.S. forces to isolate insurgents linked to Al Qaeda.
He said Iraqis need to duplicate that success at the national level, but the central government in Baghdad is "dysfunctional."
Mr. Murtha's four day-trip took him to a Thanksgiving dinner with troops in Kuwait last Thursday, and he then made stops in Iraq, Turkey and Belgium.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.