MG Robert Scales (USA Ret.) - The Emerging Iraqi Army in the Washington Times.

"I traveled to Iraq this week with a group of military analysts. From my visit I concluded that the greatest change in the military balance over since last summer has been achieved by the Iraqis Security forces. Their story is only partially told by the recent spike in numbers of Iraqi army battalions from only a few a year ago to 117 today. But soldiers know that the effectiveness of a fighting force is better measured by intangibles such as courage, will to win, skill at arms, leadership, cohesion and allegiance to a higher cause. These are factors that media amateurs and Washington insiders have difficulty comprehending..."

"Like a good wine, making an army takes time. I only hope the American people will give our soldiers the time they need to mature this Army. Give them time, trust them, and this war will turn out OK."

Austin Bay - Al Qaeda's Losing Hand also in the Washington Times.

"But current combat in Iraq is not simply the result of slapdash postwar planning. The United States has two strategic goals that have taken years to mesh in terms of political, economic and military operations:

Goal 1: Battle al Qaeda in militarily and politically to destroy its claim to 'divine sanction' and to 'speak on behalf of Islam.'

Goal 2: Seed development of modern, democratic states in the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East."

"Achieving both goals defeats al Qaeda. Goal No. 2 is a multidecade project. Reaching it requires sustained, courageous effort, but Iraq's January election and its constitutional process are signs of progress. Sensational carnage and 'expert pessimism' dominated the international media's January election coverage. Despite the dour predictions, Iraqi voters responded, waving ink-stained fingers -- a terror-defying demonstration of political change. Al Jazeera didn't miss it."