I am currently in the Middle East, visiting Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with other Members of Congress. This is my fourth visit to Iraq and the region. I wanted to visit Iraq one last time before the drawdown of American troops begins. I was pleased to have a meal with the soldiers from the 1109th Aviation Classification and Repair Depot based out of Fresno. The situation is greatly improved in Iraq. Baghdad, once strife-torn, is now vibrant. The surge has worked and we owe our military and intelligence community a tremendous debt of gratitude. The surge rooted out the bad guys, many foreign infiltrators, and has left Iraq a much better place than when I first visited in 2005. Iraq still faces the problem of long-term ethnic and religious differences. But the country has the potential to be one of the richest in the Middle East with abundant oil reserves and agricultural resources. I have been impressed with the commitment of many Iraqis to see this happen.
We will finish our trip to the region in the UAE and visit U.S. Navy personnel. Then we will depart for Germany on Friday, where we will visit our military installations in Stuttgart and Ramstein and spend time with some of the wounded soldiers.