By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Retired Lieutenant Cornel and newly elected Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell recently returned from Iraq, and he said troops could come home in just two years.
Russell is credited for helping to find Saddam Hussein back in 2003. Now, he returned to Iraq to analyze how much the country has changed since his tour five years ago.
He said the changes he witnessed are nothing short of amazing. Roads are busy with traffic and at night, in the streets of Baghdad people are everywhere.
Russell said he had wondered when Iraqi's would start taking control of Iraq.
"To Baghdad, we drove by civilian car to Tikrut, 150 miles one way. And we went like any other citizen would go, a normal person would go. They are clearly in charge of security," Russell said.
Oklahoma soldier Stephen Saunders, a medic with the Army, is on his second tour of Iraq. He was also impressed with the progress in the country.
"From the day we first got here, there was nothing, maybe two shops from what I saw, and now it's flourishing," Saunders said.
But the progress isn't just noticeable in the streets of Iraq. According to one website that monitors soldiers who are killed, not one U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq last month in combat.
Russell said he see troops coming home in the next 18 months, but any sooner as many have suggested could hurt progress.
"We need to make sure we don't pull out too much for political expediency, Russell said. "And we can have this thing won."
Russell said he is aware President-elect Barack Obama wants to start bringing troops home after being sworn in, but if that initiative can put it off for a short while longer, it could have a profound impact on Iraq now and in the future.