Troops' relatives speak out as death toll rises and morale falls
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Saturday October 25, 2003
News of the death of Jane Bright's son, Evan, arrived with the US military's greatest triumph in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad. In Mosul, the 101st Airborne cornered and killed Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay. Outside town, a US patrol came under attack, and Ms Bright's son, an infantryman, was killed along with two other soldiers.
That was on July 24. Her anger has not abated. "There are some terrible things going on there," she says.
Yesterday, other American families waited for official confirmation of death, after reports arrived of one soldier from the 101st Airborne killed near Mosul and two members of the 4th Infantry Division killed in a mortar attack near Samara. This brought to 108 the number of US troops to die under hostile fire since May 1, when President George W Bush declared an end to major combat.
The growing toll and reports of poor conditions and low morale among troops have produced an undercurrent of dissent among US military families. The Guardian has found that 75% of the 478 troops removed from the Iraqi theatre because of mental health issues have been reservists.
In researching this story, we received more than 70 emails and phone calls from relatives of US forces overseas. All but two were negative - about the treatment of soldiers, the reasons for the Iraq war, the pain of family separation and the insensitivity of the military bureaucracy. >>Full story...