Out of the entire field of candidates running for President of the United States, only John McCain has taken a strong stand supporting the troops in Iraq and their mission.

His sudden turn backing the current efforts in the War on Terror is cause for considerable discussion on the national political scene, with much of the reaction being in the negative or marginal-at-best categories. But McCain actually has used his vast knowledge of the military and historical facts to his advantage and while everyone else is worrying about what to say or do, McCain will reap the political benefits.

Whether this one issue can turn his political fortunes around and give him new strength in the polls is still a wild card.

But, out of everyone running thus far, only McCain has the first-hand knowledge of war fighting, and more to the point, the downside of war fighting, in his case being wounded, taken prisoner and tortured for years. Thus, when McCain speaks about war, America listens, and well they should.

With a very few exceptions, most of the big talkers in Congress are blowing smoke up the voters' skirts when they talk about the War on Terror and how we are doing, because they simply don't have the personal knowledge of the issue.

Many in Congress make the obligatory journey to Iraq, where the military is diverted from doing its real work to see that they are escorted around the country to have discussions and photo ops with the troops. But there is a huge difference between the routine Congressional visit and a McCain visit - that being McCain knows what to look for.

It is obvious that McCain found matters to his liking on his most recent visit two weeks ago, and from that he feels confident enough to openly support the war effort. Many in Congress are ready to show support for the current offensive, dubbed the Surge, but most are not running for President.

McCain also has another ace in hole that may well have influenced his decision. He had a ringside seat to the Gathering of Eagles vigil in Washington on March 17. While the American Terrorist Media and most politicians looked the other way and pretended it didn't happen or wasn't really all that successful, McCain was well aware of the GOE and its outcome.

If he stepped back for even a moment and objectively reviewed that event he would have come to the conclusion that America is fed up to the hilt with the anti-American, pro-terrorist, troop bashing demonstrators who had planned to deface our national memorials during their protest march on the Pentagon.

If McCain was objective about the GOE he not only saw that veterans and our supporters vastly outnumbered the pro-terrorist, Cindy Sheehan-led marchers, he would have seen that the commitment on the vets' side was wider, deeper and stronger than the media and left-wing politicians want to acknowledge. He also would have seen that a tremendously successful vigil was arranged and executed with precious little time or money, nearly entirely over the Internet, with no input whatsoever from the mainstream media.

That factor alone could be an major factor in his decision, because it has been demonstrated that he can access his base without help from print and electronic media.

The combination of an objective look at the both the GOE and the situation in Iraq would give McCain a rare opportunity to accurately predict the future. In this prediction, which I also believe is likely, our troops will lambaste the terrorists, the Iraqi army will come into its own, and by early next summer the troops will not only be coming home, they will be coming home victorious.

When that happens, the war is suddenly going to be a very different issue in the presidential race.

I also believe the American Terrorist Media and left-wing politicians are overlooking or deliberately burying a salient point in America's view of the war when they quote polls and statistics saying the public is dissatisfied or non-supportive.

First, I don't trust polls unless I am directly involved in them. That is because I don't know what question was asked, how it was posed, who was interviewed, when they were interviewed or what options they were given to answer.

And I firmly believe that many Americans may be dissatisfied by the war effort because they want news of victories and progress, and we never, ever get news of victories or progress.

But the so-called surge, which hasn't even hit its halfway mark in the troop buildup needed to fully execute it, is already succeeding. Some terrorists are fleeing. Some of their leaders such as Muqtada Al-Sadr are in hiding in Iran, sending strongly worded messages to their followers, rather than taking on the US in a stand-up fight.

Even though the World Terrorist Media is still reporting the dramatic bombings and killings, the truth is that killings overall are down, violence overall is down and neighborhoods are safer.

One reason for this may well be that even though it hasn't been reported AT ALL the war effort worldwide has been phenomenally successful and tens of thousands of terrorist have been killed or wounded since the attacks of 9-11.

A regular reader of this column has been keeping a spreadsheet listing terrorist deaths worldwide, basing his information on both media and military sources, by date and location. According to those figures, more than 35,000 terrorists are now in paradise - meaning that more than 2.5 million virgins have been rounded up to wait on them hand and foot.

That number alone - terrorist deaths - is quite impressive, and if it represented American deaths we would all be in a state of hysteria by now. It also doesn't represent the number of terrorists who have been wounded.

Due to our advanced medical and transport capabilities American combat wounded outnumber killed by more than a 10-to-1 ratio, according to some estimates. I seriously doubt the ratio in terrorist ranks is anywhere near that number, but if you even drop it down to a 3-to-1 ratio, as existed on average during WWII and the Vietnam War in America, we can safely assume that in addition to more than 35,000 dead terrorists, there are another 105,000 who have been wounded.

You don't hear about terrorist casualties because the American military has been cowed into believing that casualty reports were inaccurate and irrelevant in Vietnam. Actually, nothing could have been further from the truth on either point.

Well after the Vietnam War was over the communist North Vietnamese admitted to losing some 1.4 million troops killed in action, roughly 2.5 times the size of their standing army as it existed in the mid-60s.

That was important because the American public never heard those stats, nor did they hear that neither the North Vietnamese regulars nor the Viet Cong guerrilla fighters were ever able to succeed on the battlefield. Until the final drive to take the south, two years after all American combat troops had left South Vietnam, a drive that was encouraged by American politicians and anti-war activists, the communists never had one single battlefield success against America.

The same is true today in the War on Terror, but the public never hears about our successes, only our casualties. The Associated Press for instance, has been on a virtual feeding frenzy the last week, reporting each American death, along with a running tally of our total sacrifices, but not a word about terrorist casualties.

The WTM is only too happy to report on it when a force of 800 or so Taliban crosses the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan and overruns a small village police force. But you never hear the final tally when the Afghan Army or NATO forces pounce on the terrorists, annihilate them, and send a ragged and battered remnant straggling back over the border to hide.

But as those casualties mount up for the terrorist forces they are extremely important. Not only do they show that we are succeeding militarily, but if the world was aware of them it would severely hamper terrorist recruiting efforts.

Obviously there are some fanatics in their ranks who honestly believe they will be better off in their version of paradise than they are in life. But it is safe to also consider that given an option, most of their potential recruits would take a different and much longer road to that end.

John McCain is well aware of all of this, and I believe he has seen what others overlooked, the potential for victory. John McCain has access to all the information listed above, and he also has intimate knowledge of one other major point.

The American grunts never quit. Never. They will go through hell, complaining all the way, but they will not quit. They emerged victorious in Vietnam, and they will emerge victorious in Iraq.

McCain knows he can count on the grunts. He saw it before. They don't need politicians or the media to tell them when they have done their job and done it well. They only need each other. McCain knows this and he knows he can count on America's troops.

To a great degree the military has been given the freedom from Rules of Engagement, the troops and the backing to get the job done in Iraq. Only McCain has had the courage to make note of this before the battles are won.

But only McCain will be able to use this to his advantage after the battles are won.