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lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 16 13:28:15 MDT 2003
U.S. Soldiers Complain of Low Morale in Iraq
By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fed up with being in Iraq and demoralized by
their role as peacekeepers in a risky place, a group of U.S. soldiers
aired their plight on U.S. television Wednesday and said they had lost
faith in the Army.
Told several times they would be going home only to have their hopes
dashed this week, a small group of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry
Division in Iraq, spoke of poor morale and disillusionment with Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation," one
disgruntled soldier told ABC's "Good Morning America" show.
Asked by a reporter what his message would be for Rumsfeld, another
said: "I would ask him why we are still here. I don't have any clue as
to why we are still in Iraq."
About 146,000 U.S. troops are serving amid mounting security threats in
postwar Iraq. The death toll has now equaled the number killed in the
1991 Gulf War.
Sgt. Filipe Vega, said they had expected to return home soon after the
fall of Baghdad on April 9. "We were told the fastest way back home is
through Baghdad and that's what we did. Now we are still here," he
The 3rd Infantry Division was the first U.S. unit to enter Baghdad after
driving through southern Iraq from Kuwait.
Sgt. Terry Gilmore described a phone call with his wife, Stacey, when he
told her he would not be coming home soon.
"When I told her she started crying and I almost started crying. I just
felt like my heart was broken. I could not figure out ... how they could
keep us here after they told us we were coming home."
Commenting on troop frustration, White House spokesman Scott McClellan
said the president was grateful for the sacrifices being made by
soldiers in Iraq. "We will continue to make sure they have all the
support and resources they need as they do their job," he said.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said she understood the frustration, but said
morale was still high. "It's obviously a frustrating situation for some
of them, but it does not represent the entire 3rd Division."
Appearing on the same show, Stacey Gilmore said U.S. troops were
ill-prepared for the post-war phase. "They were told after the fighting
ended they were coming home. All I know is that morale is low and they
are just hanging in there, sticking through it."
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