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Troops Doing "Magnificent Job" in Iraq Say Senior Leaders

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2003 – Americans can be proud of the work U.S. soldiers are doing in Iraq, said 5th Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston during a video teleconference from Baghdad today.

"The soldiers are really doing a magnificent job," he added. "All of you should be very proud of what soldiers here are doing in support of the people of Iraq."

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bush, 1st Armored Division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Fuss, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), agreed.

"They're doing very well," said Fuss, who also serves as command sergeant major for Task Force Iron Horse, which has responsibility for the northeast portion of Iraq. "They're disciplined. They're trained. They are taking the fight to the enemy every day and we're winning."

This is in spite of working in difficult conditions such as the "tough, rugged" terrain and temperatures that have averaged 123 degrees, said Preston. "Even in full uniform out on the ground, their spirits are high," he added. "Soldiers are proud of the mission they are doing.

"Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the world," Preston continued. "It's one of those things we learn from. Soldiers understand the threat and the environment they work in. They walk with death out on patrols. There's no substitute for the level of experience a soldier gains."

The adaptability of these young soldiers is great, said Bush, who also serves as command sergeant major for Task Force Baghdad.

Senior leaders in Iraq remain focused on the mission and taking care of the soldiers, noted Preston. "The No. 1 way to take care of (soldiers) is to ensure they are trained," he added.

Quality of life issues, to include housing and food, are also a top concern of the command sergeants major.

In an effort to improve troop billets, Preston said they've been working with local contractors to restore infrastructure and to put windows and air conditioning back in buildings. There's even a push to get air conditioners out to the soldiers who live in tents at remote sites.

Fuss said they've started purchasing 20-foot vans that have heat and air conditioning. Each would house four soldiers.

Food preparation is also being contracted out. The intent, said Preston, is to have several large dining facilities in established areas. These facilities would in turn get "quality meals" out to the soldiers in remote sites.

One priority is obtaining power generators, said Bush.

"You can't rely on commercial power," said Fuss. Power may be on for three hours and then none the rest of the day or it may be just the opposite, he added.

"There are a number of initiatives," Preston added. "I think if you asked the soldiers, they'd say there have been many improvements in the last 30 days. As the theater matures, you get logistics support structures set and quality of life improves substantially."

Every day soldiers look at what their leaders are doing to make their quality of life better, said Fuss. "And we're working on it every day."

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