http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2005/n01252005_2005012505.html Papers Outline Iraq's Progress in 2004 American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2005 In less than a year, Iraqi military ground forces have grown from one operational battalion to 21 and counting. Iraq's navy now sports five 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment. The country's air force has three operational squadrons equipped with nine reconnaissance aircraft and three U.S. C-130 transport aircraft. And Iraq's special operations forces include a counterterrorist force and a commando battalion. (Sure hope we're not training someone we're going to have to shoot sometime in the future. But given the religous fanaticism of the folks in the region, I trust the average muslim about as far as I can throw his mosque. But I guess that this is what we have to do - and hope for the best.) These count among a multitude of accomplishments across the spectrum of the Iraqi interim government, reported in a series of just-released fact sheets by Multinational Force Iraq and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. "In 2004, Iraqi forces fought alongside coalition forces in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, Baghdad, North Babil, Mosul, and a host of other locations," reads a fact sheet on Iraqi security forces. "In Fallujah alone, Iraqi forces lost eight of their members and had more than 40 wounded. Well over a thousand others have also lost their lives serving their country." And officials add that although Iraqi forces have sustained casualties in many attacks, there's no shortage of volunteers. Facts are included also on the growth of the Ministry of Interior's Iraqi police forces, which number more than 55,000. (Maybe this will answer Kennedy's recent whine about (paraphrasing) "when will the Iraqis start fighting for their freedom? When will they shed their blood for their country." What I find disgusting about Kennedy's bitching is that he doesn't give a hoot in hell about our troops. He's simply making a career out of trying to cause the Bush administration programs to fail. I've never said this about anyone, but I do hope he has a massive coronary and drops dead before he can do any more damage to the nation.) Other year-in-review documents list and discuss coalition troop contributions from the U.S.' 148,000 to Norway's 10 (TEN??? I guess it's the thought that counts). Besides the U.S. contingent, other countries supporting Multinational Force Iraq range from South Korea and Japan, to Latvia and Estonia, to Italy and the United Kingdom, to Georgia and Azerbaijan, to the Netherlands, to El Salvador. Plus, there's information on operational feats by units such as the Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft detachment, the Macedonian Special Forces and Ukraine's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Another point paper states that more than 1,100 reconstruction projects are under way, including 364 schools, 67 health clinics, 83 railroad stations and 93 water and sewage plants. Also, as of Dec. 29, 2004, some 108,000 local Iraqis have been hired to work on these projects. The paper also outlines progress during the year in improving essential services water, electricity and education, among others. (Why do we never hear about this in the MM? Not even Fox carries these stats.) On a more somber note, there's a timeline of atrocities by insurgents, starting with two French nationals shot and killed in Fallujah on Jan. 6, 2004, and ending with 12 Iraqi police officers' death at a Dijila police station on Dec. 28. That fact sheet also lists March 2 as "worst day of violence" where "sophisticated and simultaneous attacks" killed up to 223 Iraqis, as well as the March 31 deaths of the four U.S. contractors whose bodies were burned, dragged and strung up. (I guess that answers my previous question. We don't hear about the things we are accomplishing in Iraq because our necrophiliac press corps is too busy filming bodies and carnage.) On the Iraqi economy, a fact sheet points out that oil revenues totaled $18.1 billion in 2004 and that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened for trading on June 24. A final sheet lists the 47 countries with established embassies in Iraq and 28 Iraqi government ministries.