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God Bless Our Troops

 

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Ross Colvin, Reuters
Sun Jun 1, 2008 12:22pm EDT [Drudge]

* U.S. monthly death toll drops to new low

* Iraq says oil production at post-war high

* Australia pulls out combat troops

BAGHDAD, June 1 (Reuters) - U.S. troop deaths in Iraq fell to their lowest level last month since the 2003 invasion and officials said on Sunday improved security also helped the country boost oil production in May to a post-war high.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Iraq's oil minister credited better security for the two milestones, which illustrated a dramatic turnabout in the fortunes of a country on the brink of all-out sectarian civil war just 12 months ago.

"We've still got a distance to go but I think lower casualty rates are a reflection of some real progress," Gates told reporters in Singapore. "The key will be to continue to sustain the progress we have seen."



M
en and women of the United States Armed Forces, thank you. You are the History Makers. You're doing more than making a difference in individual Iraqis' lives. You're changing our whole world for the better.

Our freedoms here are much more secure today solely due to your efforts over there. No islamass murderers are successfully setting up any bases of operations in Iraq, training to attack your families and countrymen back home. The greater stability that you and your Iraqi comrades whom you trained have forged in the region is creating a multiplier effect which gives regular Iraqi and other nations' citizens strong incentives and reasons to support and assist you as you help them build a country for themselves and take it back from the thugs and terrorists who no longer can find any welcoming place inside its borders.

Well done.

American generals have stressed that the security gains are both fragile and reversible. That was shown in March, when an Iraqi government offensive against Shi'ite militias in southern Basra sparked a surge in violence in the capital and other cities, catching U.S. and Iraqi officials off guard.

The U.S. military said 19 soldiers died in May, the lowest monthly death toll in a five-year-old war that has so far claimed the lives of more than 4,000 American soldiers.

Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told Reuters in an interview that the improved security had helped Iraq, which has the world's third-largest oil reserves, raise oil production to a post-war high of 2.5 million barrels per day in May.

Iraq's oil industry, hit by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, was a vulnerable target for saboteurs after the U.S. invasion. Attacks on pipelines quickly destroyed any hopes of using Iraq's vast oil reserves to fund its reconstruction.

The military says violence in Iraq is now at a four-year low following crackdowns by U.S. and Iraqi forces on Shi'ite militias in southern Basra and Baghdad and on al Qaeda in the northern city of Mosul, its last major urban stronghold.

"In May we have exceeded for the first time a 2 million barrels per day export rate. In production we have exceeded 2.5 million bpd," Shahristani said.



Hoo-ah, men! Combat Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guardsmen, all of that progress is your doing. No mere "talking the talk and walking the walk" could get any of that done. You've been doing the jobs no one else on the face of the earth would or ever could hope to do a hundredth as well as you're able and willing to do for us each and every day.

Anyone searching for the purest definition of service could come across no better examples than the ones you've all set.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in May also fell, to 505, after reaching a seven-month high of 968 in April, figures compiled by the interior, defence and health ministries showed.



Lord, please continue to help and protect these brave Defenders of our freedoms, and comfort and bless their families and loved ones, especially of the Heroes who sacrificed all in devotion to You, to honor, and to their country as You help us to always remember them and forever appreciate what they did for us all.

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