Friday, October 17, 2003


Read about the varying conditions under which the soldiers live in Iraq.

Some things to think about as you do...

1. Yesterday we learned that one-third of soldiers polled rated their morale as low. Given what you read here...seems fairly remarkable.

2. CPT Patti and her crew, while certainly not living in the luxury palaces, have it better than many. But then, that's the thing in the don't want to compare because someone will always have it better, some will have it worse.

3. When this poll was taken CPT Patti's gang didn't have their internet cafe, gym or game room establshed yet.

4. Do you find it interesting as I do that Reuters, AP, CNN never tell you this stuff. Were it not for the Stars & Stripes newspaper, we would not have this sort of information.
When Pfc. Alan Shaffer wakes up each morning in his camp near the Tigris River, he looks up and sees the stars. He grabs an MRE for his morning chow; for a toilet he uses a slit trench in the grassy field not far from where he sleeps. A shower to wash off the sweat? Only in his dreams...

Forty miles downstream in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, Spc. Dennis Kerr also lives in a camp overlooking the Tigris. But his digs are quite different.

Kerr, 20, of Sparks, Nev., plays trumpet in the 4th Infantry Division band. When he wakes up on his cot, in air-conditioned comfort, he sees an elaborate crystal chandelier and he pads across a marble floor to a latrine with gold-plated fixtures. Then he eats a plate heaped with bacon or sausage and scrambled eggs, topped off with fresh fruit and chilled juice in a Kellogg Brown & Root chow tent...

Still, they found their camps lacking a lot of the basics. Asked to rate their camp facilities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest:

82 percent of soldiers gave their toilets a rating of 3 or lower.

73 percent rated their hand-washing facilities 3 or lower.

79 percent rated their gyms 3 or lower.

82 percent rated their telephone service 3 or lower, and almost half rated it 1.

66 percent rated their e-mail access 3 or lower.

Overwhelming majorities, ranging from 64 percent to 85 percent, said they had no access to a library, a game room, MWR trips, AFN television or USO services.

“We are a country at war,” said Sgt. William Hutchens, a 13-year veteran serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. “We are soldiers, and it is expected that conditions will be rough.”...

Battery D’s one hot meal per day is trucked in by convoy. It’s got no radio, no Internet, no telephone. Entertainment is limited to a DVDs, a few board games and some donated books.

Yet the soldiers here almost all say they’re happy. They’ve built themselves bunkbeds out of scrap wood, and they’ve got indoor showers and toilets. It’s the fifth place they’ve lived since parachuting into Iraq early in the war.

“This is by far the best,” Marcantonio said. “I’m hoping we can stay here until the mission is completed.”

Read the whole'll have a much better understanding of how the troops live.

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