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Barrett808 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-16-05 05:29 PM
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Poor living conditions erode morale of Iraqi's fledgling army
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Poor living conditions erode morale of Iraqi's fledgling army
By Ashraf Khalil / Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The rank smell of sweat, stale cigarettes and garbage engulfs the cavernous aircraft hangar where hundreds of Iraqi men in khaki fatigues lounge on black metal bunk beds with bare mattresses. A door in the corner leads to the bathroom -- a dozen or so metal cubicles reeking of human filth.

For many of the more than 2,000 men who make up the Iraqi army's fledgling 5th Brigade, this dank metal shed with sporadic electricity and no running water has been their home for the last six months as they prepare to take their place on the front lines against the country's insurgency.

U.S. politicians and military commanders hail the rapid development of Iraq's security forces as the key to ending the insurgency and speeding the homecoming of the nearly 150,000 American troops in Iraq. But a day spent with the 5th Brigade reveals the interlocking obstacles of logistics, bureaucracy and human nature that stand in the way of that goal.

Uncomfortable, unsanitary living conditions on this abandoned Baghdad airfield have eroded brigade morale, Iraqi officers say. Many soldiers have quit, and more say they plan to.

"We come home from training or patrols soaking in sweat and can't even wash," says one soldier who didn't want to be identified for fear of being punished. "Is this the way we should live?"


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