Just before Independence Day, I led a bipartisan delegation of six members of Congress on a trip to Iraq, the central front on the Global War on Terror. Our three primary goals were to: 1) see and meet with our American troops, and thank them for their bravery and sacrifice; 2) assess the security situation in Iraq; and 3) lend our support to Iraq’s national unity government.
The most rewarding part of the trip came at the “Chow Hall” at Camp Victory in Baghdad where I had the opportunity to share lunch and dinner with many of our American troops, including soldiers from my Ohio district.
One such individual was Brandon Johnson, a 21-year-old soldier from West Chester, Ohio. He is serving as a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, and his company operates in the western region of Iraq near the border with Syria. Brandon also happens to be a former employee of mine, having worked for me between his first and second tour in Iraq.
Spending time with America’s soldiers is always inspiring. The enthusiasm and optimism of these young men and women is remarkable. Brandon is no exception. He and the other soldiers I met know the importance of their mission and of America’s commitment to combating and defeating terrorism abroad, and they know that they are making a real difference in bringing freedom to a part of the world that has known only tyranny.
Brandon’s company does a little bit of everything as it serves in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror. It patrols the border with Syria, working to prevent foreign agents who would support insurgents and terrorists from entering the country. It provides convoy security for our troops, and it escorts Iraqis home who have been released from prison, helping them avoid insurgent attacks and get home safely. His company also works to disarm Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and performs other tasks that are necessary in waging and winning this important campaign.
It is the bravery of our soldiers like Brandon, and the hundreds of others I had the pleasure of meeting, that makes victory in the Global War on Terror possible. America will prevail in large part because of their unyielding commitment to duty, their devotion to American principles and ideals, and their fearlessness in the face of danger. They represent the very best of what it means to be an American, and they deserve our praise, our respect, and our unending thanks.
The most common concern I heard from Brandon and other soldiers was that the American people — and specifically Congress — would buckle and call for an early retreat. The soldiers on the ground repeatedly told us that no matter what someone’s opinion of the conflict, it is of the utmost importance that America prevail and a free Iraq rise to join the community of nations.
My colleagues and I gave them our word that America was up to the challenge, and they had our continued support. While we have no interest in being in Iraq any longer than necessary, we can no longer afford to look up, look away, and hope the problem of international terrorism goes away. We are in this fight to achieve victory. And, we assured them, we will.
— John Boehner, a Republican congressman from Ohio, is House Majority Leader.