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For U.S. combat soldiers, new role in Iraq is frustrating [View All]

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jakeXT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-06-09 04:01 PM
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For U.S. combat soldiers, new role in Iraq is frustrating
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CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq -- Before Army 1st Lt. Bianca Philson's first deployment to Iraq earlier this year, she trained as a battle captain, learning how to keep commanders informed of progress during fierce fights against insurgents.

Philson's extensive drills included simulated urban gun battles, intelligence gathering and jamming signals to prevent the detonation of roadside bombs. Now that she's been in Iraq for five months, how much of that training is put into practice?

"None," said Philson, 24, of Huntsville, Ala. "I don't do any of that stuff."

Instead, Philson and about 4,000 other soldiers with the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division are relegated to their sprawling base on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah or to dreary outposts where they train Iraqi forces. The brigade, primed for combat, is now the prototype for the U.S. military's "advise and assist" mission, an experiment in which Americans step back from the fight and empower Iraqis to take charge of their own forces and reconstruction efforts. One other advise and assist brigade is in Iraq now, with five more expected to arrive by spring.

The change of mission has been jarring for many young soldiers who'd hoped to gain combat experience in Iraq. Now, they listen longingly to the war stories of soldiers who saw the worst of Iraq, and make comparisons with their own more mundane duties.

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