The United States is making significant progress in Iraq, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said Friday after returning from the war-torn country this week.
Rehberg spoke to reporters from Billings after his return Thursday night. It was his second trip to the country in two years.
He said it was valuable to "see it and smell it and touch it" as Congress is debating the country's position there.
"The Iraqi people are thankful we are there, they asked that we not immediately withdraw," he said.
Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, created a congressional uproar last month by calling for America's exit from Iraq.
Rehberg said the country's infrastructure is much improved since his last visit in December 2003.
He said officials told him 50 percent of Baghdad is now protected by Iraqi military and police, a signal that U.S. troops have made significant progress in training soldiers there.
"The morale of our fighting men and women is strong and high," he said.
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