We spoke yesterday with COL Tom James, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (the last of 3ID to still be in Iraq). This is an area that I spent a lot of time studying while in Iraq, so I had some very specific questions about progress there since I left in March. I have to say that I am impressed with the answers across the board: progress is solid, and indeed, better than I expected.
The one difficulty was the slowness of the integration of Sunnis into the Iskandariyah police. The rest of what he had to say was highly encouraging -- especially, for me, the news about the new blue tractors being everywhere. There is a tremendous potential for progress, and wealth generation not dependent on oil, if Iraqi agriculture can be fully capitalized. It's an added bonus that the tractors are assembled at the nearby Iskandariyah Industrial Complex, which in turn becomes a hub for small businesses to serve its workers.
Good news all around. You'll want to read it all.