U.S. forces are proud of their service in Iraq. The service members who spoke with the President from Tikrit today are proud of the opportunity to discuss their service with the Commander-in-Chief.
The event was technologically challenging and required organization and preparation. The soldiers were advised as to the issues they should expect to discuss, and decided among themselves who would speak to each issue as it may arise.
The service members were excited about the opportunity to speak with the President. No one intended to tell them what to think or how to express themselves; going through likely questions in advance was meant solely to help the troops feel at ease during an obviously unique experience.
All of us at the Department of Defense are proud of the chance to serve the troops who serve the country, and we appreciate any opportunity to help them tell their story. On behalf of these fine young men and women, we certainly regret any perception that they were told what to say. It is not the case.