From Ralph Peters' New York Post column:
Gen. David Petraeus evokes the late Warren Zevon's line, "I'll sleep when I'm dead": His idea of downtime on Christmas Day was to answer a series of questions from The Post - after spending 11 hours out visiting our troops.
Relentless in his pursuit of our enemies and tireless in his pursuit of enduring results for Iraq, Petraeus is on track to become America's most successful four-star general since 1945.
Question: As a remarkable year draws to a close, what's your assessment of Iraq today?
A: "Our troopers and our Iraqi partners have wrested control of many of the sanctuaries from al Qaeda in Iraq and disrupted extremist networks throughout the country. Since the 'surge of offensives' began in June, attacks and civilian deaths have decreased by 60 percent.
"Our own losses have fallen substantially, as well - although each loss is a tough reminder of the cost of what's been achieved.
"Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces are making an increasing impact on the battlefield. In the last year, they've not only added over 100,000 new soldiers and police, they've also gained in capability. The Iraqis now have well over 100 combat battalions solidly in the fight - sustaining losses at a rate two to three times our own.
"In 2008, the Iraqis will add some 30 additional battalions to help compensate for our reduction of about one-quarter of our own combat forces by the end of July.
"In some areas of Iraq today, the atmosphere resembles the spring of 2003, with many communities feeling 'liberated' once again - this time from al Qaeda and other extremist elements.
"That said, we should all be clear that what has been achieved could be reversed - the progress in many areas remains tenuous and the campaign to establish sustainable security is far from over. Al Qaeda, associated insurgent groups and militia extremists remain lethal. Nobody here is doing victory dances in the end zone."...