June 24, 2007 -- American forces are on the move in Iraq.

The last of the 30,000 soldiers sent in as reinforcements (the controversial "surge") arrived this month. An offensive aimed at surrounding, isolating and destroying terrorist concentrations around Baghdad began early last week.

On Monday, 2,000 U.S. troops and 1,000 Iraqis swept into Baquba, capital of Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad.

Diyala became a refuge for many Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq terrorists after U.S. Marines evicted them from Anbar Province over the last few months. Now the pressure is on them again.

It's all part of a strategy developed by Gen. David Petraeus, chief U.S. commander in Iraq. Phase one was bringing order to select areas of Baghdad - thus providing sufficient stability to permit phase two to begin.

That second part of the plan is now under way in earnest: aggressive action to track down and neutralize al Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia.

Beyond the surge's sheer numbers, it is Petraeus' willingness to use unconventional methods to accomplish his desired goal that is most encouraging.

In Anbar, the Coalition had major success in bringing previously anti-American Sunni Arab tribesmen into the U.S. camp. Fighting side-by-side with Coalition troops, the tribesmen proved critical in helping expel al Qaeda forces.

The United States is not arming these groups, Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno (Petraeus' day-to-day commander in Iraq) noted. After all, "they have plenty of weapons," he said. "The point about reconciliation is, I want those weapons to be used against al Qaeda and not against Coalition forces or Iraqi security forces."

Indeed, al Qaeda is the primary menace opposing the United States - and not just in Iraq; Petraeus is smart to do what is necessary to take the real enemy out quickly.

Of course, the coming days and weeks will be difficult. U.S. casualties will rise with increasing contact with hostile forces.

The price during the offensive's first full week included at least 15 soldiers and Marines killed over a three-day period, mainly from roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

Iraqi civilians, meanwhile, continue to suffer horrific assaults, such as the terrorist truck bomb that killed 78 and injured more than 200 at a Shiite shrine in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Sadly, troop casualties are inevitable in war - and enemy atrocities will continue until the War on Terror has been won.

Petraeus, however, is pursuing a well-thought-out plan, with solid early results. That plan deserves to be given every chance to succeed - by politicians at home.

And, yes, by the American public.

We wish the general and his troops well.