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Troop morale sags
The morale of U.S. troops in Iraq is sagging, according to a report by ABC News.
Members of the 3rd Infantry Division, which was first in on the Iraq invasion, are especially gloomy over the prospect of an additional lengthy stay in Iraq.
The division has been there for almost eight months and the Pentagon recently announced it is extending their stay. Officials hinted they may be able to bring the troops home by September.
Some 9,000 members of the division are on duty in Iraq.
ABC News quoted Spec. Zachary Watkins of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: Youve got soldiers who are already at their mental, physical and emotional limits, and youre going to keep them here another three months? Its not a smart thing to do. Youre going to have lots of incidents going on.
When the 64th Armored Regiment of the divisions 2nd Brigade got the news that they would be staying, the silence was deafening.
You could hear a pin drop, said Sfc. Eric Wright. But even though not a word was spoken, you could hear the thunder of their thoughts.
Sgt. Paul Roe of Middleburgh, N.Y. said: There isnt much going on. Every now and then, they take a potshot at you. I dont see the point of keeping 160,000 men here.
Comments like that to the news media are causing the Pentagon to consider disciplinary action against any troopers making them on grounds it is a violation of military rules. Reportedly, several officers involved have said their careers are finished.
At the same time, the steady trickle of U.S. casualties continues. Reports in the Arab press cite a new resistance movement that has warned American and other forces to get out of Iraq.
The Liberation Army of Iraq, in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, said it will go after any foreign military personnel in Iraq. It cautioned Annan not to authorize the use of a multinational force to control Iraq in the post-Saddam era.
The present governing council, appointed by the U.S., banned the celebration of July 14 to commemorate the collapse of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958. The decree was ignored by thousands of Iraqis.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa warned several months ago that an invasion of Iraq would open the gates of hell.
Firas Al-Atraqchi, correspondent for YellowTimes.org, said: The warning should be heeded. Except for Lebanon, no other country in the region has seen as bloody a modern history as Iraq.
The bloodshed is likely to continue.