The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
‘We should let others come in’

Tikrit, Sept. 3 (Reuters): American soldiers struggling to keep a lid on violence in Iraq and concerned by near-daily fatalities yearn to see more troops from other nations share the work of occupation.

“It’s getting crazy out there, and we can’t be everywhere at the same time,” said Tikrit-based Sergeant Michael Evans, referring to Iraq’s recent string of bomb blasts and guerrilla attacks on the US-led force in Iraq. “It’s time the rest of the world gave us a little reinforcement. We’re paying for too much of this. I think we should scale down and let others come in.”

“I think we would have lost less people if the UN had been with us earlier,” Sergeant Rob Summerfield, from Ohio, said at the US military base in Tikrit.

Sixty-seven US and 11 British soldiers have been killed in attacks since Bush declared major combat over on May 1. “I think a lot of people want to come over here and help us but they can’t,” Summerfield added. “For political reasons, their country is not sending them.”

“We understand that is needed to make things more legitimate in the view of the outside world,” said Lt Israel Guzman, from Texas. “But the world must understand we cannot only take US troops to do this. Fighting terrorism and nation-building is an international responsibility.”

The 26,000-strong 4th Infantry Division, based at one of Saddam’s former palaces on the banks of the Tigris river in Tikrit, knows only too well the perils of occupation.

Their patrols come under daily attack from Iraqi guerrillas in a zone traditionally supportive of Saddam and now a focus of anti-American resistance. Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and mortars often come fizzing into the base, including several overnight today. Soldiers based here shunned suggestions they would not want to relinquish any control and work alongside non-Americans. “We were here the first time, side-by-side with the French,” said Evans recalling the 1991 Gulf War.“They were great to work with, and as funny as hell”.

Email This Page