The deaths of two al-Qaida leaders in Iraq, reported last week, probably were not terribly significant in terms of damage to the terrorist organization. Al-Qaida leaders have been killed before; the group always seems to find replacements.
What was significant about the deaths, at the hands of U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad, was the method by which they were found and attacked. U.S. officials have said the operation was based on intelligence obtained by the Iraqis and was carried out in large measure by that country's armed forces.
As U.S. troops continue their withdrawal from Iraq, it will become more and more important that Iraqi forces be able to handle security on their own. The operation in which terrorist leaders Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri were killed seems to indicate the Iraqis are becoming more capable of that.
If the operation was an indication of overall improvements in the Iraqi military, Americans should be very pleased.
Knowledge gained in boosting the Iraqi military's self-sufficiency should be applied in Afghanistan, where the same concern about continuing reliance on foreign troops, including Americans, is present.