Special Report: Winning The PeacePosted: Updated:
When you think of Iraq, what comes to mind? Destruction, poverty, a lost cause? Fresh off a deployment to that country, the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division says it's quite the opposite. 7 News anchor Jeff Cole begins a 2-part story with Major General Walter Piatt.
"I would assume most think it's a violent place, That nobody wants peace, that everywhere you go it's extremely dangerous and very difficult. That's not the Iraq I know," said General Piatt.
Wrapping up a several-month deployment to Iraq, the general spoke with 7 News at LeRay Mansion on post. He just wrote a document, "Winning the Peace in Iraq."
"I wanted to just shift the focus from winning the fight to winning the peace," he said.
Piatt has said he has optimism that will happen and was asked if a lot of people share his opinion. "Well, I think the Iraqis do," he said. "I think the one thing that you see in the eyes of the Iraqis is that this can never happen again - they almost lost their nation."
To win the peace, General Piatt says U.S. and Iraqi forces need to instill confidence in the Iraqi people, get them their houses back, get them jobs, an economy and that will lead to them trusting the newly formed government and not revolt.
"To really win it strategically, to really defeat the ideology of this ruthless enemy, you have to address the needs of the population and that will make ideology fall on empty ears and the population itself will reject it - and that's when you've truly won the peace," he said.
"I think there's a strong foundation," he continued. "You go to Mosul, you go to these places where ISIS occupied and dominated and the people hate them. They feel liberated. They celebrate the fact that the country freed them. They trust the Iraqi army deeply; the most trusted organization in Iraq is the Iraqi army."
General Piatt's opinion on Iraq is written out for anyone to read. However this commanding general had a unique chance to share his view with President Trump.
General Piatt arrived home from Iraq just days before Trump's visit to Fort Drum in August.
"He asked me about Iraq and I said the same thing, 'Sir, we've won the fight. We've got to stay committed to winning the peace,'" he said.
The special report will air on Wednesday's 7 News This Evening. Watch for it at 6 p.m. You can see part 2 on Thursday.