Admiral Mike Mullen took a tour of Iraq’s former no-go zones this week, including Mosul and Sadr City, to review progress over the last six months. General Mark Hertling declared al-Qaeda “defeated” in the doctrinal sense, but noted that we had more work to do to “destroy” the terrorists. The stroll through Sadr City with the media shows just how much the situation has changed:

Just weeks ago, American soldiers couldn’t even appear in Sadr City without it being considered a provocation. When Nouri al-Maliki took Sadr City from Moqtada al-Sadr’s control, he had to keep US troops out of the fighting to keep it from escalating into a full-scale battle. Less than three months later, American patrols and civilians can navigate openly through Sadr City without incident, and apparently without anyone much caring.

That’s progress, significant and obvious. Mullen will see much to please him, and to please those who want the US and the West to prevail over terrorists and oppressors.