Skip to main content
CNN.com
Search
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
WORLD header
Iraq Transition

U.S. troops: Additional forces must be used correctly

Story Highlights

• U.S. soldiers say when deployed correctly sectarian violence goes down
• Soldier on effectiveness of more troops: "You never really know"
• Soldiers say most Americans don't fully understand what's going on in Iraq
By Arwa Damon
CNN
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A few hours after President Bush announced more than 20,000 additional troops would deploy to Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Casper was doing inventory with his soldiers.

Like most soldiers here, Casper did not catch Bush's speech, but he knew the basics: More troops are on the way.

"It's trying something new, and if it works, it works; and if not, we will have to find something else," he said.

Staff Sgt. Roy Starbeck also didn't hear Bush's remarks, but he did hear some of the dissenting reaction from politicians and others -- and it irked him to no end. (Watch American soldiers react to Bush's new proposal Video)

"It's just ... really just aggravating," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "People saying that they don't support the war because they don't like the president or saying they don't support the war because they are Democrats or saying they support the war because they are Republicans. (Pentagon lists troops affected by plan)

"None of them are taking the time or energy to find out what is actually going on over here."

Most of the soldiers who spoke with CNN said they believe that if the fresh troops are used in the right way, the increase could be a significant help. But these men have no say in policy.

In the words of one soldier, "I am just a little fish." (Watch Defense Secretary Robert Gates explain how plan will work Video)

Starbeck said he believes that Bush "did a pretty good job of owning up to what is going on over here."

That sentiment -- that Americans don't fully understand what's going on in Iraq -- is one that resonates among troops.

A lot of them said they feel that those who make the decisions and the American people don't have a clue what they --- the soldiers, Marines and other forces --- are going through. And dealing with that is not easy.

A few days before Bush's speech, Army Spc. Peter Manna said he struggled when he went home on leave.

"You can't explain [it]. I went on leave and tried to explain, but it's just too hard," he said.

Casper added, "They don't understand what is going on, what we do. So most of the time it's one of those deals where you just blow it off. You really don't pay attention to what they are talking about because they don't know what they are talking about unless they have been over here or have family members who have been over here."

He said it's imperative that U.S. forces complete the mission here. "If you are going to start something, you have to see it until the end -- whatever that end may be." (Troop levels in Iraq)

'We can be more places at one time'

Based on their experiences fighting in Baghdad, troops who talked with CNN said they feel that more troops would be best used alongside Iraqi security forces. Even in areas that already have been handed over to Iraqi control, the Americans still find themselves coaching and mentoring the Iraqis down to the last detail.

The Iraqi troops also have told CNN they want the American firepower on their side because it bolsters their confidence.

In addition, U.S. soldiers have said they have noticed that when they are present in force, the sectarian violence tends to decrease.

"We would drive right down the Sunni-Shia fault line when we heard the gunfight going on and that would calm things down," Staff Sgt. Daniel Beard told us out on patrol.

His platoon commander, Charles Moffit, said he thinks the increased troops will help.

"We can only be in so many places at one time. ... If we have more soldiers here, we can be more places at one time."

Many of the soldiers here are on their second -- if not third or fourth -- deployments and have a solid grasp on the countless challenges they face.

They know that military power alone is not going to win the fight. And they also know that while, as many of them said, the plans often sound great on paper, it translates differently on the streets of Baghdad.

"I think it's a double-edged sword," Army Sgt. Jason Dooley said, peering over the shoulder of an American sniper about halfway into Tuesday's 10-hour gunbattle for Haifa Street.

"Increasing troops could show more force, could incite the insurgents or get them to back off. You never really know. They do what they want to do -- that's what makes it so hard."


story.damon3.cnn.jpg

U.S. soldiers in Iraq told CNN they believe most Americans don't understand what's happening there.

SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

QUICK VOTE

What is your overall reaction to President Bush's revised Iraq plan?
or View Results
Advertisement

Advertisement

Career Builder.com
Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more