Opportunity through sacrifice

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan is the Director for Strategic Effects, J9, United States Forces-Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq.  In this capacity, he coordinates and implements political, economic and communications activities on behalf of USF-I. In addition to this role, Maj. Gen. Buchanan also serves as the USF-I spokesman.  Check out his entry below for a first-hand account of the progress in Iraq. 

Earlier this year I visited Samarra, a city in Salah Ad Din Province, just north of Baghdad. I had been there the day after

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan talks with Iraqi leaders during his trip to Samarra.

the Golden Mosque was attacked and some of the toughest days I’ve spent in Iraq have been there. This year, we walked Samarra’s streets across from hundreds of pilgrims; we viewed the mosque’s reconstruction from a neighboring building’s rooftop. Piece by piece this historic shrine was being restored.

Iraq has an opportunity now it has never had in the past. It stands poised to reintegrate into the international community and has the promise to be a regional leader. Iraq has built up a professional and capable security force. Its government has developed into an organization that understands it must be accountable to the people. Finally, Iraq has an economy capable of fueling growth.

Like many in today’s US military, I have lost friends here – both US and Iraqi. The sacrifices we bear are shared by our families and loved ones. But our family members don’t make the return deployments to see the hard-fought progress like we do or the inspiring resilience and determination of the Iraqi people to build a better future.

Year in and year out I have seen the progress made in Iraq; a comfort not afforded to the many family members and loved ones of our fallen service members. I have seen the tremendous shared sacrifice it has taken to bring Iraq to this point.

I know there will be challenges ahead, but Iraq is poised to be a leader in the region and for the first time in many years has the opportunity to determine its path. Today, through the sacrifice of our service members, brave civilians who have served here over the years, and their families, Iraq has been given an opportunity for a sovereign and stable future.