Besides his “the surge is working” comment from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today, Congressman John Murtha is telling the Iraqi central government what they need to hear. They do need to make progress, build bridges and clean up ministries that are not delivering results and that are hamstringing progress.

Also, in all honesty the folks on the ground—including those Pennsylvania troops Murtha met with last week—do have a desire to come home, but they have an even stronger sense of duty and conviction to get the job done right. They are being empowered to do the job right and the Congress needs to grant them the funding to accomplish this task.

The truth of the matter is the surge is working and has altered for the better the landscape that US diplomats and the US military are responding to.

However, publicized, Congressionally-prescribed timelines are not helpful to military planners and leaders working in a volatile and ever changing Iraq. Developing a sound exit strategy and publicizing it, for all to digest including insurgent groups, are two very different things.

The US cannot afford to repeat past actions that have withdrawn troops from vulnerable neighborhoods and sectors only to have to reclaim them militarily.

All this discussion of the surge and defense funding for military operations is buttressed by a new optimism among the American public regarding Iraq. A new survey out of The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press states:

A growing number [of Americans] says the U.S. war effort is going well, while greater percentages also believe the United States is making progress in reducing the number of Iraqi casualties, defeating the insurgents and preventing a civil war in Iraq.

Americans are becoming more optimistic about progress, but we should all be prepared that progress may not happen as quickly as we would like. The environment in Iraq is so complex and victories come in small quantities one by one, as is being illustrated on the streets of Baghdad daily.

Going back to Congressman Murtha, he makes a point that I am sure many on both sides of the aisle would agree with. Iraq has to be won by the Iraqis. They have to want it and they must seize the momentum ignited by the surge to make political progress toward stability and reconciliation.