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Barrett808 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:04 PM
Original message
Soldiers' Doubts Build as Duties Shift
Soldiers' Doubts Build as Duties Shift
For Many, Prolonged Stay and New Threat Have Eroded Early Optimism
By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 25, 2004; Page A11

KARBALA, Iraq -- When the Army's 1st Armored Division arrived in Iraq 13 months ago, its job was to close out Iraq's past by wiping out remnants of former president Saddam Hussein's armed base of support. Now several of its units are confronting a new threat, Moqtada Sadr, a Shiite cleric who is leading an armed revolt in defiance of U.S. plans to sideline him in a new Iraq.

This shift in responsibility is hitting hard at soldiers who moved into this area south of Baghdad last Wednesday for a short mission to fight Sadr's militia. In the view of many troops in Company A of the division's Task Force 1-36, the old battle, though filled with hardship, was imbued with the optimism of liberation. The new one is tinted by pessimism. Soldiers feel themselves mired in an effort to navigate the indecipherable intricacies of Iraqi politics.

"I just think it's a lost cause," said Spec. Will Bromley, a gunner who sits inside the turret of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and mans a 25mm cannon whose rounds can blast walls to pieces. "This has become harder than we thought. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein, that's one thing. Getting Iraqis to do what we want is another. It's like we want to give them McDonald's and they might not want McDonald's. They have to want it or we can't give it to them."

Sgt. Jerry Sapiens, a specialist in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, suggested there was no end in sight. "We're in the baby-sitting phase and my question is, how long can we baby-sit for the Iraqis? We want the Iraqis to change, to be like us, and to do this we will have to be here forever."

"The enemy is not the same as before," said Spec. Matthew Aissen, a medic. "I fear that people who use religion as a power point are taking over the place. It's a power struggle. Our weak point is they think we are evil and we're not so popular, so we become part of the mess."

(more)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52971-20...
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Jmeyers130 Donating Member (81 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:09 PM
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1. Well hopefully
the troops will use their absentee ballots for good and vote for Kerry rather than their executioner.
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:25 PM
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2. Sad that so much wisdom is at the bottom,
and so much idiocy is at the top.
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TrogL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:33 PM
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3. Soldiers are no dummies
They're in an impossible position. They were sent in to prove a negative then re-fight WWII with the same consequences - power rushes in to fill a vacuum.
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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:42 PM
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4. These guys are articulating a reality the rest of Americans need,...
,...to understand but who are diverted by bullshit political rhetoric.

I respect these guys' understanding of these problems and recognition of their limits in solving such problems. Geez, maybe THEY should be in charge rather than the neocon morons who are ruining our country and Iraq.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:53 PM
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5. The military is NOT behind srub
and Rove knows it
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hadrons Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 03:21 PM
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6. "... people who use religion as a power point are taking over the place."
wow, Sgt. Jerry Sapiens could have been talking about the U.S. right now
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 03:30 PM
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7. Good Lord, that's one of my old battalions, "The Spartans."
- Nice to see the soldiers telling it like it is. They know they have been given a hopeless task by an incompeteent administration. I bet the troops vote Democratic this year.
- Get the Spartans and the rest of our troops out of there NOW !
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enough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:37 PM
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8. This soldier has it right. Too bad Bushco doesn't get it.
snip>

"Last May, possibly, there was a chance for this thing to succeed. People were happy. Then we started arresting people" for carrying ammunition, said Bromley, referring to operations to disarm Iraqis in Baghdad. "It's been easy for enemy recruiters. They just wait for something bad to happen, like if someone shoots up a family. They just have to wait, and the recruits come in."

snip>
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