Upton: Power on, spirits good in Iraq
By By FRED UPTON / Member of Congress Michigan's 6th District
Well, it's been an incredible two days on this bipartisan trip. We have met with a number of local officials, national officials in Iraq.
We've met with Paul Bremer, who is our ambassador here.
We've toured the countryside in a pretty meaningful way.
We visited some schools, a lot of school kids today (Oct. 8).
Some schools that USAID actually refurbished, replaced their windows from the looting and things that have gone on.
They have actually fixed up 1,500 schools nationwide and have a 98-percent attendance rate as school started just this last week.
Hospitals are at an 80-percent pre-war rate and they expect to be at 100 percent before the end of the year.
The power is on. We took a helicopter ride over a lit Baghdad tonight and, in fact, electricity is above pre-war levels for the first time established this week. We visited an electric plant just yesterday.
I have to say that the spirit of our troops has been outstanding. They feel absolutely committed to what they are doing. It's been inspiring to talk to folks from not only all over the world, but certainly U.S. troops -- I've had a number of meals with them over the last couple of days and they feel very committed to finishing the job and to begin to see their use change from one of occupation, which it clearly is today -- particularly in the city of Baghdad -- to transforming it back into a democracy.
We've seen some violence. We've seen a lot of happy smiles and a lot of waves as we travel through the countryside and through the city here.
We've got another busy day tomorrow, as we'll be up in the north with the Kurds to try and get a sense there of what is going on.
I look forward to coming home, but the power is on and the spirit is good.
Upton, a Republican from St. Joseph, is leading a congressional delegation in Iraq with Reps. Mike Castle, R-Del.; Greg Walden, R-Ore.; Amo Houghton, R-N.Y.; Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md.; Ron Kind, D-Wis.; Jim Davis, D-Fla.; and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.
Upton will return to the United States on Friday.