On Monday, October 6, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-09) led a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Iraq. Joining Congressman Lynch were Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) as well as several House Oversight Committee Investigators.
The visit is part of an ongoing assessment of the status of military operations and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
While in Iraq, Lynch and delegation members visited the Balad Air Force Theater Hospital and examined treatment methods for traumatic brain injury. Congressman Lynch also took the opportunity to have dinner with soldiers from Massachusetts.
“I cannot say enough nor do enough to thank our brave men and women in uniform. As always, I am impressed with their discipline, their humility and their common bravery,” Congressman Lynch said. “Meeting and travelling with these troops, observing the situation firsthand and listening to their concerns and then sharing those observations with the White House and with members of Congress is one of the most important and effective things I can do.”
Congressman Lynch and members of the delegation also travelled to Samarra and Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold within Baghdad which has been a base of support for the radical cleric, Moqtadar al-Sadr. In Samarra, site of the 2006 Golden Mosque bombing, the CODEL participated in a walk-through of Bank Street, located in Samarra’s market area. The delegation was accompanied by the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 237th Infantry Regiment, also known as the “No Slack” Battalion from its heroic service in Vietnam. CODEL Lynch was the first Congressional delegation to participate in such a battlefield circulation in Samarra, a key population center within the 237th Infantry’s area of responsibility.
In Sadr City, the delegation inspected the Sadr City R3 Water Treatment Plant, accompanied by Brian Flynn of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The $50 million facility has the capability of producing 25 million gallons of potable water per day, significantly improving availability of drinking water for Sadr City residents. The water plant has been the focus of Congressman Lynch and Committee Investigators after contractor errors pushed the project two years behind schedule. The delegation also visited the Alghader Rehabilitation Center, a health clinic, to examine the progress of medical care within Sadr City.
Congressman Lynch and delegation members also received a briefing from General Raymond Odierno, Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq. General Odierno assumed command from General David Petraeus on September 16, 2008. This was Congressman Lynch’s tenth trip to Iraq.
“I’ve tried to keep tabs on the situation in Iraq on a fairly regular basis over the past few years. I would say that the security situation is vastly improved generally. There are some problem areas remaining near Mosul and in Dyala Province, and near Basra. However, these are the exceptions,” Lynch said. “I anticipate that fewer troops will be needed and gradual force reductions will be coming in the near future.”