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Iraqi Battleground Fiercer, Veterans Say - Washington Post

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  • DSBR
    Iraqi Battleground Fiercer, Veterans Say 2nd Gulf War Would Present Chemical Arms Danger, Ex-Soldiers Fear By Steve Vogel Washington Post Staff Writer Monday,
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 11, 2002
      Iraqi Battleground Fiercer, Veterans Say
      2nd Gulf War Would Present Chemical Arms Danger, Ex-Soldiers Fear

      By Steve Vogel
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Monday, November 11, 2002; Page B01

      Only four days into the ground war -- with the Iraqi army on the run --
      Sgt. Kevin Gregory and his squad from the Army's "Tiger" Brigade
      were stunned when the orders came to cease fire.
       
      The platoon sergeants gathered the soldiers near the Kuwaiti city of
      Al Jahra and told them that they would advance no farther. The Persian
      Gulf War was over.
       
      "When we stopped, we were ticked off," recalled Gregory, 38, who lives
      in Anne Arundel County. "We wanted to know why. We wanted to see
      a good end."
       
      Now President Bush is promising to deliver that "good end," threatening
      an attack that would force out Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and rid
      that country of its weapons of mass destruction.
       
      Gregory and many Gulf War veterans, though, greet the prospect with
      decidedly mixed feelings. Although many are eager for troops to finish
      the job they started, they worry about the cost of returning to the Middle
      Eastern nation, which is believed by the U.S. government to be armed
      with chemical and biological weapons.
       
      "I'm kind of upset we have to go back," Gregory said. "I wish we'd done
      it right the first time."
       
      While history remembers the Gulf War as all "smart bombs" and sorties --
      surgical strikes with few casualties on the battlefield -- veterans recall the
      thousands of men and women who came home wounded, physically or
      emotionally.
       
      "On this Veterans Day, we need to remember the price of this war is
      going to be more than rebuilding Iraq," said Stephen Robinson, a former
      Army Special Forces soldier who served in Iraq and is now executive
      director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring. "It's
      going to be upholding our promise to take care of the soldiers who go
      there to fight."
       
      Gregory was seriously wounded during his service in the war as an infantry
      squad leader with the 2nd Armored Division's Tiger Brigade. The day after
      fighting stopped, a truck he was in ran over a land mine. The blast shattered
      his feet and ankles and left him hospitalized for more than two months. He
      now wears a leg brace to walk.
       
      Despite his injuries, Gregory said he supports going back to Iraq. "I wish I
      were in good enough physical condition to go myself," he added. Gregory's
      wife remains on active duty with the Army, and he worries that she might be
      sent to the region. "I don't want to see her go," he said.
       
      The war this time, he fears, will be much costlier for U.S. troops than the
      1991 Gulf War, which claimed 148 Americans killed in action. "Now [Hussein]
      knows what to expect," he said. "He knows how we fight. I don't think it'll be
      as easy this time."
       
      Some veterans worry about being bogged down in city-street fighting in
      Baghdad, a scenario the Defense Department hopes to avoid. The gravest
      threat, others say, is that Hussein will make full use of chemical and biological
      weapons, unlike during the last war. "We've basically given Saddam no option,"
      Robinson said. "He's going to use everything he has to kill as many as he can."
       
      Kirt Love served during the war with the Army's 141st Signal Battalion, part
      of the U.S. "left hook" aimed at destroying the elite Iraqi Republican Guard.
      Like Gregory, he was upset when the attack abruptly ended after the Iraqi
      army abandoned Kuwait.
       
      "I was ready to drive to Baghdad myself and take out Saddam," said Love,
      38, a resident of Mount Jackson in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. "All the
      troops were angry. We all felt betrayed."
       
      Now he is an activist on the issue of illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans
      and is adamantly opposed to U.S. ground forces going back for another war.
      He is worried that gas masks and other protective gear issued to troops have
      not been adequately upgraded.
       
      "Our government knows our equipment is not up to standards," Love said.
      "This isn't going to be the same as before. This is going to be a bloody affair.
      They haven't shown us that they have learned anything."
       
      Love suffers from migraine headaches, respiratory difficulties and nerve
      damage, problems he attributes to his service in the theater. He co-founded
      the Desert Storm Battlefield Registry, an advocacy group trying to bring
      attention to the unexplained illnesses reported by thousands of Gulf War
      veterans. The causes have been variously attributed to vaccines given to
      protect the troops, exposure to chemical agents released at depots, oil fires,
      battle stress or depleted uranium used in some U.S. armaments.
       
      Gregory works in the Washington office of Disabled American Veterans,
      and many of the soldiers he deals with fought in the Gulf War. "I think
      people tend to overlook what happened there," he said.
      Many are suffering orthopedic problems, others have chronic fatigue
      syndrome and others are experiencing post-traumatic stress, he said.
       
      Soldiers who were sent to the Saudi Arabian desert during the buildup
      to the war, including Gregory, had no way of knowing that the war would
      end so quickly with so few casualties. "We were scared," Gregory said.
      "There was constant fear for your life. There's quite a few Gulf War
      veterans who are experiencing problems."
       
      Robinson's last assignment before retiring from the military last year
      was in the office of the secretary of defense, where he did research
      on Gulf War illnesses. He was disillusioned by what he saw. "It seemed
      that everything we produced leaned away from helping the veterans," he
      said.
       
      "Gulf War veterans were treated as if they were crazy and didn't have
      real problems," added Robinson, who served with the 10th Special
      Forces Group in northern Iraq assisting Kurds immediately after the
      ground war ended. "Now science is catching up."
       
      If the United States sends troops to fight Iraq again, Robinson said, it
      must ensure that they are fully protected against chemical and biological
      hazards. "I served 20 years. I loved my military career," he said. "But I
      don't want to see guys make the same mistakes we made."
       
      Gulf War veterans will be among those marching this morning along
      Constitution Avenue in the "March to Remember" -- an event sponsored
      by Vietnam Veterans of America -- as a show of unity among veterans
      past, present and future, Robinson said.

      © 2002 The Washington Post Company
    • Paul D Lyons
      Dear Kirt, Damn good news article. keep up the good work!!! Sincerely, Paul D. Lyons, SSG. USA Ret. (Medically) Pres. Desert Storm Justice Foundation, Inc.
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 11, 2002
        Dear Kirt,
         
        Damn good news article. keep up the good work!!!
         
         
         
        Sincerely,
        Paul D. Lyons,
        SSG. USA Ret. (Medically)
        Pres. Desert Storm Justice Foundation, Inc.
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: DSBR
        Sent: Monday, November 11, 2002 6:57 AM
        Subject: [gulflink] Iraqi Battleground Fiercer, Veterans Say - Washington Post

        Iraqi Battleground Fiercer, Veterans Say
        2nd Gulf War Would Present Chemical Arms Danger, Ex-Soldiers Fear

        By Steve Vogel
        Washington Post Staff Writer
        Monday, November 11, 2002; Page B01

        Only four days into the ground war -- with the Iraqi army on the run --
        Sgt. Kevin Gregory and his squad from the Army's "Tiger" Brigade
        were stunned when the orders came to cease fire.
         
        The platoon sergeants gathered the soldiers near the Kuwaiti city of
        Al Jahra and told them that they would advance no farther. The Persian
        Gulf War was over.
         
        "When we stopped, we were ticked off," recalled Gregory, 38, who lives
        in Anne Arundel County. "We wanted to know why. We wanted to see
        a good end."
         
        Now President Bush is promising to deliver that "good end," threatening
        an attack that would force out Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and rid
        that country of its weapons of mass destruction.
         
        Gregory and many Gulf War veterans, though, greet the prospect with
        decidedly mixed feelings. Although many are eager for troops to finish
        the job they started, they worry about the cost of returning to the Middle
        Eastern nation, which is believed by the U.S. government to be armed
        with chemical and biological weapons.
         
        "I'm kind of upset we have to go back," Gregory said. "I wish we'd done
        it right the first time."
         
        While history remembers the Gulf War as all "smart bombs" and sorties --
        surgical strikes with few casualties on the battlefield -- veterans recall the
        thousands of men and women who came home wounded, physically or
        emotionally.
         
        "On this Veterans Day, we need to remember the price of this war is
        going to be more than rebuilding Iraq," said Stephen Robinson, a former
        Army Special Forces soldier who served in Iraq and is now executive
        director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring. "It's
        going to be upholding our promise to take care of the soldiers who go
        there to fight."
         
        Gregory was seriously wounded during his service in the war as an infantry
        squad leader with the 2nd Armored Division's Tiger Brigade. The day after
        fighting stopped, a truck he was in ran over a land mine. The blast shattered
        his feet and ankles and left him hospitalized for more than two months. He
        now wears a leg brace to walk.
         
        Despite his injuries, Gregory said he supports going back to Iraq. "I wish I
        were in good enough physical condition to go myself," he added. Gregory's
        wife remains on active duty with the Army, and he worries that she might be
        sent to the region. "I don't want to see her go," he said.
         
        The war this time, he fears, will be much costlier for U.S. troops than the
        1991 Gulf War, which claimed 148 Americans killed in action. "Now [Hussein]
        knows what to expect," he said. "He knows how we fight. I don't think it'll be
        as easy this time."
         
        Some veterans worry about being bogged down in city-street fighting in
        Baghdad, a scenario the Defense Department hopes to avoid. The gravest
        threat, others say, is that Hussein will make full use of chemical and biological
        weapons, unlike during the last war. "We've basically given Saddam no option,"
        Robinson said. "He's going to use everything he has to kill as many as he can."
         
        Kirt Love served during the war with the Army's 141st Signal Battalion, part
        of the U.S. "left hook" aimed at destroying the elite Iraqi Republican Guard.
        Like Gregory, he was upset when the attack abruptly ended after the Iraqi
        army abandoned Kuwait.
         
        "I was ready to drive to Baghdad myself and take out Saddam," said Love,
        38, a resident of Mount Jackson in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. "All the
        troops were angry. We all felt betrayed."
         
        Now he is an activist on the issue of illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans
        and is adamantly opposed to U.S. ground forces going back for another war.
        He is worried that gas masks and other protective gear issued to troops have
        not been adequately upgraded.
         
        "Our government knows our equipment is not up to standards," Love said.
        "This isn't going to be the same as before. This is going to be a bloody affair.
        They haven't shown us that they have learned anything."
         
        Love suffers from migraine headaches, respiratory difficulties and nerve
        damage, problems he attributes to his service in the theater. He co-founded
        the Desert Storm Battlefield Registry, an advocacy group trying to bring
        attention to the unexplained illnesses reported by thousands of Gulf War
        veterans. The causes have been variously attributed to vaccines given to
        protect the troops, exposure to chemical agents released at depots, oil fires,
        battle stress or depleted uranium used in some U.S. armaments.
         
        Gregory works in the Washington office of Disabled American Veterans,
        and many of the soldiers he deals with fought in the Gulf War. "I think
        people tend to overlook what happened there," he said.
        Many are suffering orthopedic problems, others have chronic fatigue
        syndrome and others are experiencing post-traumatic stress, he said.
         
        Soldiers who were sent to the Saudi Arabian desert during the buildup
        to the war, including Gregory, had no way of knowing that the war would
        end so quickly with so few casualties. "We were scared," Gregory said.
        "There was constant fear for your life. There's quite a few Gulf War
        veterans who are experiencing problems."
         
        Robinson's last assignment before retiring from the military last year
        was in the office of the secretary of defense, where he did research
        on Gulf War illnesses. He was disillusioned by what he saw. "It seemed
        that everything we produced leaned away from helping the veterans," he
        said.
         
        "Gulf War veterans were treated as if they were crazy and didn't have
        real problems," added Robinson, who served with the 10th Special
        Forces Group in northern Iraq assisting Kurds immediately after the
        ground war ended. "Now science is catching up."
         
        If the United States sends troops to fight Iraq again, Robinson said, it
        must ensure that they are fully protected against chemical and biological
        hazards. "I served 20 years. I loved my military career," he said. "But I
        don't want to see guys make the same mistakes we made."
         
        Gulf War veterans will be among those marching this morning along
        Constitution Avenue in the "March to Remember" -- an event sponsored
        by Vietnam Veterans of America -- as a show of unity among veterans
        past, present and future, Robinson said.

        © 2002 The Washington Post Company

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