This past weekend I, along with Senators Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Snowe (R-Maine) and Congressman Issa (R-Calif.), traveled to Iraq.  We visited Tikrit, Baghdad, Ramadi and Balad and had the opportunity to meet with the commanding officers in each location.

While it is still too early to tell the overall success of the new plan in Iraq, I was impressed with some of the progress being made -- violence in al-Qaim, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah has dramatically decreased; in Baghdad U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces are clearing and holding some of the most dangerous areas; and sectarian violence has decreased.

Congress will have a review by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in September.  And if present trends continue, I expect an even more encouraging report then.

While our military is doing a great job in improving security in Iraq, what is needed is a political solution to complement their efforts. I relayed this message to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the influential leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.  Iraqi political leaders must find a political solution to the issues dividing Iraq.

Also, we need to do a better job of public diplomacy. Our military has made a real difference in Iraqi communities, but our government is not doing an adequate job of spreading the good news.

I was proud to see first-hand a mosque in Ramadi that American soldiers rebuilt. It is this type of assistance in Iraqi communities that is critical to winning the broader war-on-terror. The United States needs to be more proactive in talking about these efforts.