.
March 19th, 2008
09:25 AM ET

Same place. But five years later, a much different war.

ALT TEXT

Gary Tuchman reporting from Iraq

On March 19th, 2003, I was near the Iraqi border, at a military base being used by U.S. forces.  I was an embedded reporter with the Air Force, but troops from the Army and Marines were also stationed at the base that was once occupied by Saddam Hussein's troops during the invasion of Kuwait.  But that was ancient history to many of these troops. The 18 and 19 year olds I was with were 6 and 7 during the invasion of Kuwait. Now, the overwhelming feeling among the troops was the moment of truth had arrived.

The war planes, with flames blowing out of their tails, were taking off at ear splitting decibels one after another into the night sky for bombing missions over Iraq. The patriotism level was high; but the fear was palpable. All knew that the stated reason they were here is because the government of Iraq had refused to give up its weapons of mass destruction. What was mostly left unsaid was that if Saddam Hussein was going to use those chemical or biological weapons, this was the time; and there was no more strategic target than the busiest U.S. airbase in the theater of operations; the one we were at.

All the troops (and journalists) had chemical masks and suits. We all went through training. If there were such an attack, we would have seconds to put on the gear correctly; any delay could be fatal. On that very first day, within hours of the air war beginning, we heard our first air raid siren. The siren meant a missile or a rocket fired by the Iraqi military was minutes away from landing in our general vicinity unless it was shot down first by a Patriot missile. But if it wasn't shot down, everyone on that base knew this could be the worst case scenario they had trained for.

Chemical gear went on; everyone hustled to outdoor bomb shelters. And then we all stared at each other. We couldn't see each others faces with the masks on, but I could see eyes. And the eyes of some of these troops, particularly the young ones, told you all you needed to know. Fear.  This was the real thing. We heard a boom; and waited for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, the word came. A missile had landed. Nobody had been hurt, and it was only a conventional weapon. The masks came off and I saw smiles. But only for a short time. About an hour later, another siren; another run into the shelter. And once again, only a conventional weapon. Over the first few days of the war, we had dozens of sirens. The masks and suits had to stay with us at all times. Once when I was in the shower, the siren went off, and on went the mask within seconds. It didn't take long for most of us to realize that if chemical or biological weapons hadn't been used yet, then perhaps they weren't going to be used at all. Or perhaps Iraq really did no longer have them.

ALT TEXT

Gary Tuchman (right) in bomb shelter, placing on gas mask after report of an incoming missile.

My photographer Damir Loretic and I flew on missions aboard war planes. We flew at high speeds at altitudes of 500 feet above the ground to avoid Iraqi radar. Shots were fired at the planes. Seeing fiery rockets intended for one's aircraft is quite a startling sight; particularly to a journalist. But they were wildly inaccurate. As the days went on, there was a victorious feeling among the troops.  We actually saw Iraqi citizens waving happily from the ground at the U.S. pilots as we flew 500 feet above their heads. When we set up camp at a new U.S. base in the Iraqi city of Talill, a statue of Saddam Hussein ended up being the backdrop for a multitude of triumphant pictures by the troops. Hussein still hadn't been found, but the prevailing feeling was his capture would be imminent, the war would be over, and everyone would go home soon.

Fast forward to the present. On my most recent visit this past September, I saw the same patriotism among the troops. I even saw some of the same troops. We looked at each other with a "would you have ever thought we'd see each other here all this time later" look. Saddam Hussein had of course been caught and already executed. But the war continued. The concern over "weapons of mass destruction" was gone. However, what replaced it was the concern that random deadly violence could occur anytime, anywhere.

Photographers Damir Loretic, Jerry Simonson and I spent time with Air Force troops who travel via tank convoy several days a week into the Sunni Triangle to help train local Iraqi police forces. The mission is incredibly hazardous. Every vehicle that is seen on the side of the highway is considered a possible insurgent.  The problem is virtually every motorist pulls over to the side of the road in order to stay out of trouble when a U.S. military convoy comes by.  There are so many vehicles on the side of the road, it is impossible to know who is good, and who might be bad. Just weeks before we were with these troops, one of their own had been hit by an IED as he operated the turret on the top of the tank. He was killed.  These troops were still in mourning while they were travelling down the exact same dangerous highway where their friend was hit. When we arrived in a small town near Tikrit where the police training was taking place under security you will never ever see anywhere other than Iraq, I asked these troops to talk to me about this war. What has stayed with me during that conversation and others I had on this visit is this: many are just not sure what their goal is.

Morale was very high when I was there during the first month of the war. Get rid of Saddam; get rid of the weapons of mass destruction; and then the coalition wins.  But now, they are deployed under great risk without a clear idea what it takes to end this war. That lack of a "finish line" is a psychological hurdle that affects morale for many of these troops.  Just before we left Iraq this most recent time, we visited a U.S. military hospital that also treats civilians, and even insurgents. I sat with a precious little Iraqi girl who had accidentally been shot in a firefight between U.S. troops and insurgents. The father of the little girl told me he doesn't blame the Americans; that accidents happen. As an American, I was pleased he was so forgiving. As a father, I wonder if I would be.

- Gary Tuchman, 360° Correspondent

Program note: Anderson takes a look back at the start of the Iraq War and where it stands now
Saturday & Sunday on 360° at 11p ET: “Shock & Awe: 5 Years Later” WATCH A PREVIEW 


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Iraq
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. eyes watching

    no it isn't working for mccain a lie is a lie flip-flopping is flip-flopping.can you please refrain from saying that mccain is having it both ways. try being fair demand truths from each candidate.may the best man win for such a critial time as this. i'm simply tired of the same old same old.please give change a needed chance.

    August 5, 2008 at 1:35 am |
  2. Jet Johnson

    This war was launched on lies, why did Libby have to attack Ambassador Wilson? Because Wilson illuminated the largest lie under this debacle, that Iraq sought uranium, a lie that was reiterated against CIA wishes in Bush's State of the Union Speech.

    The real enemy is Al Qaeda, yet total silence from the Bushies on their efforts agains Al Qaeda, oh but of course the Bushies harp about Al Qaeda in Iraq (they weren't there in the beginning) we have allowed Osama to simply exchange addresses, he now resides in a sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal area, an area where he planned the London bombings. On Sept 11, Bush said he would go after even nations that harbor the terrorists, well Bushie what are you waiting for? Oh, there is no oil in Wazaristan.

    So now after 5 years we pay $9 Billion dollars a month, we've lost three divisions of combat capability from wounded soldiers, and we've nearly lost half a division of brave fighting men and women, soldiers who were loved and walked where we now walk, who held the same dreams and hopes we all do, for a war about what? Oil is the only answer.

    For those who try to draw comparisons to our early struggles as a nation, how much more ignorant can a person be about both our naton's history and our present situation in Iraq? For one, there never were any exploding carriages in Philadelphia or the Boston Commons or colonial women strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up local marketplaces. The surge has given the Iraqis sufficient time to achieve political reconciliation, however Cheney and the Bushie are more concerned with Iraq's oil legislation that carves up their oil for American oil companies–this is exactly what the invasion of Iraq was all about, anything else is pure rubbish.

    March 22, 2008 at 10:13 am |
  3. JM

    Impeach Bush Now!
    Impeach Cheney Now!
    Ten months of Condoleeza Rice or Nancy Pelosi would not be anywhere nearly as bad as ten more months of Bush-Cheney. If justice is ever truly served, they will both be tried and convicted of numerous offenses against not only the US Constitution and We the People, but also crimes against humanity. Yes, I'm saying it...war crimes! Will it ever happen? Sadly, no. This administration will, however, go down in history as the absolute worst in the history of this country, beating out such stellar performances as Calvin Coolidge, Ulysses S. Grant, and George H. W. Bush.

    March 20, 2008 at 3:40 am |
  4. Anthony

    I believe that the history books in a hundred years will reveal the truth about this disastrous president. Not only have we lost over 7000 American lives during his presidency...9/11 and our soldiers, but we will have spent upwards to 2-3 TRILLION dollars according to economists and nobel prize winners. Bush lied about this war and created more animosity towards the US from friend and foe alike. He also is handing the shipwrecked presidency to someone else who has to correct his blunders which may take years or decades. Has anyone noticed that oil went from $30 a barrel before the war to over $100 a barrel now??? As a president, Bush has done NOTHING about immigration, energy solutions, gas prices, healthcare, national debt, trade deficits, unsafe imports, or to find that guy (you know...Bin laden!) The families of 9/11 still have no justice! Bush promised to find terrorists and those who harbor them. Why does he continue to pacify and send tax dollars to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? This guy is a disaster just like his father! If the Republicans wanted Clinton impeached for lying about an affair, what do we say about the empathy regarding Bush who has continued to lie about a war in which thousands have died and cost us trillions? If anyone should be impeached, it should be George Bush!!!
    Anthony
    Wildwood Crest, NJ

    March 19, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  5. MD

    People need to wake up.There is some good point in here (Brenda,Jorge,Chancy). America has gained Nothing for the Iraq War !The American people has gained Nothing for the Irag War ! The American economy has gained Nothing from the Iraq War ! This CNN site and all these other news outlets need to be focused on change and REAL ISSUES !! There is NO REASON George Bush and his staff should still be in office. American people need to stand up!! And stop watching American Idol and Momment of Truth. Gain some common sense people...

    March 19, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  6. Roy Lucas

    Iraq has drained our ecomomy into recession and inflation. Iraq should be funding the conflict. With a Depression within view, we must spend our money here and help our own first. Big Oil is UnAmerican in conduct.. Taxes on big oil should accelerate upward, as the price of oil rises. We have plenty of oil in this America, which Big Oil shut down, to increase prices. Mada Johnston, and many others, have seen their wells shut down, depriving our economy of this money. We need good paying jobs in America, for all. The top 1 or 2% in income, are the only people benefiting in the current economy. The American People need to take back their Country in the coming Election. Presently Big Oil pulls the strings.

    March 19, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  7. Tom

    It's the same war now as it was 5 years ago. It has been used as a prop for the Bush/Cheney political agenda, nothing else. $3 trillion dollars spent, 4,000 American soldiers dead, 50,000 suffering wounds , 1.5 million civilians dead, and half the population displaced into other countries. This is the price America has paid to keep Bush happy and in power, yet the "affairs" of New York politicains seem more important to the public.

    March 19, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Jorge

    WITH ALL THAT MONEY SPENT!!

    we could of paid for better technology to monitor terrorism.
    we could of improved our Homeland security.
    we could of help our medical health system.
    we could of secure our boarders.
    we could of spent more money into the economy.
    we could bought solar panels for every home in America.
    we could of given free gas to the Americans.
    we could help all them home destroyed in Natural disasters.
    we could built better electric hybrid cars.

    WELL GUESS WHAT, THE ONLY WEAPON OF MASSIVE DISASTER WE FOUND WAS IN OUR COUNTRY.

    AMERICA HAS NO MORE VALUE....THANK YOU WASHINGTON DC.

    could have congress stopped BUSH? YES
    could have American stopped BUSH? YES
    the war is still going on inside and outside your country!!!
    DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!

    March 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  9. Paris

    Sadam, attacked Iran with chemical bomb and the images will hunt me for the rest of my life.
    I agree that the war could have been handled better, but the world is certainly a better place without Sadam.
    Every time I bring this up CNN doesn’t post my comments.
    You must understand the culture on the other side to understand the time it takes for the transformation.
    We will end up with a genocide in Iraq if we leave now. We must finish the job.

    March 19, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Jonathan bray

    Victory is possible in my opinion but, at what cost? Are we really willing to destroy our own economy for an area that could easily fall right back into violence as soon as we leave it?

    March 19, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  11. Ralph

    I have to smile when I see Bush and Cheney making their rah, rah speeches at military bases or Veterans Legions. Now, with Cheney and McCain in Iraq, there is Lieberman lurking in the background to make sure they stay to protect Israel. Never will the Republicans admit the war was to secure the Jewish vote but I think it played a big part in it.
    Finally, American CIA "Intelligence" is an oxymoron as applied to those who told us to invade or we would be inundated with missles! Hope their performance reviews reflect their erroneous predictions with a resulting decrease in pay!

    March 19, 2008 at 12:25 pm |
  12. mike

    All I can say after listening to bush today is that he is truly delusional he is a real piece of work the man has no firm grasp on reality. He has become just what his father was the worst thing to happen to america! I truly dont get what people were thinking when they voted him in when i think bush father or sons the image i get is not great minds or leader or nothing like that, i get no class mental midgets !! he stole from the poor to give to the rich and he has just messed this country up . Well there is another thing he and his dad has in common the first bush had to have someone come in and clean up the mess he left and now the sins of the father are revisited on us again!. maybe we can talk him and his sidekick into taking an early retirement so he cant do much more damage to the country!

    March 19, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  13. Harry

    Yeah, I remember 5 years ago, when Bush's approval rating was 70% and we were a cocky nation, with e-mails and blogs about "Boeings many fine products that can be delivered via air, etc."

    I notice Bush's current rating is about 32%. I wonder how many people really supported the war to begin with. I suspect a lot. How many of those same people are now against the war. I suspect a lot.

    In essence, the support of these people is what pushed us into this war and now they go ooops!, my bad, sorry, I didn't mean it. This after 4,000 dead americans.

    Yes, these are the same people that can tip the balance of power.

    It's called accountability, and it is sorely lacking in many aspects of our society. A society that is all for something, unless it involves some hardship for them. Another person's property or now as we see, life, is of no consequence.

    I suggest that any future endeavors be a whole hearted effort of the american people, and that we make sacrifices here at home, such as our parents and grandparents did for WWII. Yes, even obey the Constitution.. Article I, section 8, paragraphs 11,12.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  14. Brenda

    I applaude your courage and thank you for your bravery in the name of reporting the story.

    Now there is the chance for a new president. New choices.
    I've seen an article about a blunder that McCain made confusing sunis and shiites. Somebody had to whisper in his ear to correct him (03/18/08). This is a man who would be making decisions about war? Very worrisome. What is also troubling is that there is only one article about this. I haven't seen anything on T.V. The public has the right to know about this.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:45 am |
  15. Jenny Murray

    I remember when Anna Nicole Smith died and Anderson Cooper thought it horrible that we people were interested in that. His words were "Don't they know we have a war to cover?"
    Well, lately, due to lack of coverage, I was thinking that the war had ended and I missed it.
    The war still needs to be covered on a daily basis, the needless deaths of all these people, especially those of the soldiers, the escalating costs of a truly unjust war based on lies and a huge ego trip of George Bush that is totally destroying the American way of life.

    We need to bring our troops home, the sooner the better, and spend the war money on making our war wounded, body and mind, more comfortable and improving our own country.
    The Iraqis have all our oil money so they can use their money to rebuild Iraq.
    by the way, Gary, you are fantastic!

    March 19, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  16. CHANCY

    We deserve the everlasting war we voted the idot george bush in for a second term, when he showed us what he was during his first term..
    also we have made Haliburton rich enough will our congress please bring our troops home and cut off the monry to Iraq. they (Iraq) people have more money than I do.. We won the war in Iraq the first few weeks why are we still there fighting their civil war???

    March 19, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  17. sonny c.

    Uncle Sam: Typical George W. Bush MO. Jump into something with total disregard of the blow back & let someone else clean up the mess.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  18. J Houston, TX

    To Matthew Hays,

    The money spent on the Iraq war is mere pennies in the eyes of the economic change you refer to. Coming from the oil industry, may I quickly note that the combined size of the industry supporting fuel around the world is far larger than the economy of the US and China combined. Every refinery or oil rig is a multi billion dollar project with multi million dollar maintenance and operating costs. Not to mention we are all digging for an energy alternative that simply doesn't exist yet.

    War is always a tragedy, and we are NOT fighting the same war we fought 5 years ago. First, we fought a war to end Saddam's regime. We won...mission accomplished. Now we are fighting a new war, to defend the regime that is trying to set itself up in the country. We've done this before... the US Revolutionary War was fought from 1775-1783. The French had to help us win the war both financially and militarily. The constitution was not ratified until 1788.

    It took us 13 YEARS to build a nation and then many more to end slavery, allow women to own property and vote, and we are still correcting injustices. It has taken Iraq 5 years to overcome much deeper seeded hatred and begin making progress...and we're complaining?

    March 19, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  19. sonny c.

    Even if Saddam had WMDs, what was the real danger that he would provide el Quida, our true enemy, with those weapons to be used against America. That is the argument made by the few who could see through the banging of the war drums. America needed a new site for military bases since the Saudis told us to leave. Our presence in Holy Grounds was making things too hot for el Quida sympathizers. Saudi Arabia, the country where 11 of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from. A U.S. military base in Iraq was supposed to bring fear of military reprisal to any Mid East country who had a cell of terrorists. This is the same rationale used by Germany & the Soviets in invading & occupying their neighbors between 1939 -1945. Bush made it seem like a noble mission by saying we were going to "liberate the Iraqi people from the TYRANT Saddam Hussein" Then Bush really went nuts & proclaimed America was going to "spread Democracy throughout the whole Mid East." He may have fooled most of the American public with such childlike rhetoric but no one in the Mid East were fooled. They saw this war for exactly what it was: a big military power invading & occupying a much weaker country. They'd seen this done many time before by European Nations, especially Great Britain,our closest ally in this venture. It didn't escape Cheney's notice that his oil buddies like Exxon could make a few billion $ "running" Iraq's oil industry for them or that Haliburton could provide provisions to our military or that these "buddies" could show their appreciation for this new account by giving the GOP hefty $ contributions. That's how things started five years ago. It's amazing the number of people who still haven't thrown up the cool-aid they drank & still follow the constantly changing web still being spun by Bush,Inc.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  20. Bubba

    Our mission: Re-elect Bush. Mission accomplished. New mission: Elect McCain. Come on, you were actually scared of WMDs? I could tell from my house in America there weren't any. Wanna know how? Republicans SWORE ON A BIBLE there were WMDs. Had to be bogus.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  21. Jim M

    I am back in this area for the second time. However, I am not in the military. I work as a contractor for the US Army, doing communications work so that soldiers can be free to do other duties. I spent two years in Iraq the first time. I arrived in country the day Sadaam was captured, and remember the general feeling being that, as the author stated, the war would be over soon and the combat troops would be home shortly after that. How naive we all were. The stated reasons for our being here, while justifiable, were unfortunately not the real reasons behind the invasion. Who knows how long we will be stuck here. It could be many years, and many more lives lost. While I agree that Iraq is better off without Sadaam, I question how this was supposed to help win the "war on terror". Sadly, that is now a moot point. We are here, and it appears we are here for some time.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  22. karim

    will this ever end ???

    March 19, 2008 at 11:17 am |
  23. Bob fom Pittsburgh

    Amusing at how misinformed Americans are, Please read at before 1990, what was the American policy with Sadam. What was his role in the war with Iran, what was the role of Americans towards Iran, who financed the Iraqi Iranian war?

    You must inform yourself.

    Bob

    March 19, 2008 at 11:16 am |
  24. seah

    One major reason is those running around condemning the war, sends a message to our troops that no one cares. they do get the news, they do read it, they do and should get the countries support. Whether you agree or not with the war, We all have to support each and every guy and girl there. They our our sons and daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers sisters. They Put their lives on the line for this country. We owe them To stand behind them. God Bless them.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  25. carol

    Anderson, you are right on, How can we end a war with no clear mission. Saddam is dead. Our own president said we have won the war. So why are we still in Iraq?
    Our troops can not police the world, they are trained to carry out a mission and then go home. They are not trained to keep the peace in a civiel war.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  26. Annie Kate

    Gary,

    Thank you for such a detailed look at your first embed in Iraq. Its sad that what the troops thought then were the military objectives to accomplish and then go home weren't the end objectives now. I wonder if anyone knows what the end objectives are now – the soldiers I'm sure would like to know what they have to do so they can come home and resume living the rest of their lives, and those of us at home who wait for them would like to know too. I wonder though with the lack of planning on the Bush administration's part for this war if even they know what the end goals are. I also wonder how many of those Iraqis that initially waved to the US troops coming into Iraq are still alive and if they would be as welcoming today.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 19, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  27. Joe Szefler

    People say the war in Iraq is hurting the economy. What about the $338 Billion we are shelling out of tax money to support illegal immigrants in this country. The $ 12 Billion for the war is peanuts to give people hope of a better life and freedom from oppression.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:13 am |
  28. Dr.. Steve Bennis

    I cannot beilive that a President of the United States could talk so Stupid.
    WMD's? None has ever been found and even the U.S. Defense department confirms it.
    4000 trops killed but US is safer for it?
    At least 30,000 troops wounded but we are safer for it.
    The Iraq people are safer and there country is stable? How about the thousands that are dead and we dont have a count maybe up to 100,000. Country stable what a joke.
    If we pull out of Iraq WMD's will be used against us? Wow did we not just go through that lie 5 years ago.
    The triillon dollars we are spending is not hurting the economy. What a lie it will hurt us as you cannot keep the taxpayers paying 720 million dollars a day without us going broke.
    I could go on and on but you get my point how did we elect this guy twice??? We will pay for Bush's mistakes for decades.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:09 am |
  29. Don Axt,

    Good story ... useful in attaining an understanding of the situation.

    D.A.
    Peoria IL

    March 19, 2008 at 11:06 am |
  30. Brad Johnson

    Since the war in Iraq began I have heard so many different "rationales" for starting the war that my head spins. From removing Saddam and Weapons of Mass destruction to petro dollars. Is America safer now than before the war? I don't see it. But even assuming that it is, the cost in lives and in dollars is certainly not worth the tiny bit safer some Americans may feel. I am angry at the war; angry at our country starting it on false pretenses; angry at the way the war has been managed; and especially angry at the cost. In my humble opinion there is no such thing as a good war. War should always be waged as a LAST resort. This war was not a LAST resort and seems to me to be the worst decision in the history of our nation.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:01 am |
  31. cindy

    Exactly, we were given all these reasons for why america had to retaliate(september 11th) but none of the reasons we were given were accurately justified to the american people!!!

    Now we're being told by Republicans that we will need to remain in Iraq for an indefinite about of time as these young men and women watch their tender years whitle away!!!!!!

    -We didn't find Al Qeada there
    -We didn't find weapons of disturction there
    -We didn't find haters of americans there
    -We haven't done anything to assist the Iraqi's by having them take over their own government.

    YET, we have had millions of our young people killed there, spent millions of dollars to support the war, killed our own economy AND still no end in sight.

    And people wonder why Pastor Wright has expressed his anger towards the american government!!

    March 19, 2008 at 11:01 am |
  32. BIBA

    All well and good. If the US thinks that we (worldwide) people are under the comatose influence of the US believe that the war in Iraq and the aftermath is a success, they SHOULD think twice.....

    The war was orcherstrated for personal gains to the US. It failed and is still failing.... The crude is at its highest ($110. +) and still rising. I read a while ago that Iran predicted the crash of the $ and that Oil will be the major factor for the crash. It is happening.........

    Iraq was the blunder the US did not see it happening. What we hear now is a cover-up to justify the blunder.

    Yes... the US reserves will print more (green backs) to cover-up the stench, but rest assured that it will surface at a later date. The time will come when the green-back need the backing with gold bullion!!! THAT WILL BE THE DAY.......

    Happy >Easter.....................................................

    March 19, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  33. Nikunj

    What we have done is stir an international hornet's nest. Islamic fundamentalists will take issue with our presence in any Islamic country. Five years ago we started an endless war, not with Iraq but with fundamentalist Islam. I wonder what we as Americans would do if someone occupied our country, pushed their brand of living down our throats and caused untold collateral damage. No one has a viable solution to end our occupation of Iraq. Everyday sees the US sinking deeper into a military, political and financial quagmire.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  34. Marc

    Overall, I believe what we have to fight for from now on is forgiveness. Sometimes I feel completely lost when the war is being reported on the multitude of news channels. It seems that every anchor/reporter who reports the news has this look of confusion about what they are reporting, not at their own fault, but because there is no clear answer to report, only teleprompters of bad news of our beloved soldiers injured or dying, or our economy declining. I am always surprised that people dont understand that war and a healthy economy do not mix, and that people are shocked that a multi-billion to a trillion dollar war hurts our economy as well as families. We have a lot to after this sorry excuse for an administration leaves the White House.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  35. Thomas

    This war was a bad idea. A HUGE mistake. I have thought so from the start. But, in case no one has noticed, we can't leave now. We created the new Iraq.

    You (the media) need to hold leaders accountable about how this happened. Make the elected officials stand before hearings and explain themselves. And if impeachment is in order, so be it. Congress has a great deal of culpability too.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  36. Coleman McDonough

    Gary,

    Your reports on the war have been superb! It's great to read & hear reports on CNN that tell the truth, without the spin. Thank you CNN!
    Thank all to all of you who have served & are serving our country!

    March 19, 2008 at 10:52 am |
  37. Celeste

    As we approach the 4000 mark of troops who have died in the Iraqi war , I am interested in knowing what is the total number of casulaties suffered by our troops since the onset of this war.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  38. Sherina

    Is there a finish line? I here a lot about needing more troops. What are they doing with the troops that are over there? I wish someone would research that. I was there for one year and had no real mission. I was a cook and my job along with several other jobs were contracted out and we spent a whole year doing nothing. I guess my mission was not made clear by my commanders. So many of us were trained for a job in combat that we never did. What was the real job of the soldiers that have been killed in combat and what were they doing when they were killed? HMMM maybe kicking in doors @ 2.00am like I was on 5 year old intelligence instead of cooking.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:47 am |
  39. Bill Jackson

    In response to Gary's last statement. You wonder if you would be so forgiving ? What? That the Americans got rid of a horrible Monster like Saddam who killed thousands for no reason and are trying to establish freedom for this father and his little girl.
    Maybe the father and his daughter would have been better off with Saddam and the insurgents. They are much nicer.

    Bill

    March 19, 2008 at 10:47 am |
  40. ron spurgeon

    regarding the war in iraq. can someone tell me how we will know when we've won? thank you, ron

    March 19, 2008 at 10:46 am |
  41. Uncle Sam

    The American people understand that, while our entry into Iraq may be debated, our continued presence there for the time being is necessary, not only for Iraqi stability but for confronting the greater security threat.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  42. Danny

    Served during OIF III in 2005 in Baqubah. While we were tasked with helping to set up and protect the Iraqi elections that year, when we went out on patrols it was difficult to figure out exactly what we were supposed to be doing. Not too surprised that it hasn't changed, at least from the grunt's-eye view. I don't think we can achieve much more than what we already have through arms. The rest is going to have to be up to the Iraqis themselves. I pray they figure it out soon.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:43 am |
  43. Nina, Washington D.C.

    After all of this time under an Administration which does not take into account factual data if it doesn't support their view on Iraq, America desperately needs a leader with intelligence rather than one carrying on the Bush-Cheney torch. Despite my drastically different views of John McCain, I always respected the man because he has to know what he's talking about on this subject, right? WRONG!!! Three times in a speech made in Jordan and on a radio talk show he mistook Sunni and Shiite extremists - assuming they're all al-Qaeda - until Lieberman whispered the correct Islamic sect in McCain's ear.

    Now if a Presidential Candidate cannot distinguish the difference between two factions which have been combative since the 7th century then his claim that he's the most experienced in the election on foreign policy has been proven false by himself. Do what Bush never did, figure out what you're talking about before you speak!

    March 19, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  44. buddhesus

    blah, blah, blah...this is useless entertainment.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  45. Scott Prato

    It is sad to see so many people so misguided by this war in Iraq. The Usa went to Iraq to capture the world's 2nd largest oil reserve for corporate entities ie British Petroleum and Exxon-Mobil. Thousands upon thousands of Human beings have died so that Haliburton and Black Water could turn a nice profit. Dick Cheney and George W. Bush think the war in Iraq in going great and they're sure happy we went there with all the profit they have made. Patriotism and Religion and the need to believe are all important to Americans but we have been taken for the biggest ride ever. U.S. Citizens have no access to Health Care and people are losing their homes to foreclosure. Billions of dollars in tax payer money is sent to Capture natural resources for multi-national corporations so they can be profitable. The Iraq war is a disgrace and someone needs to put the truth out there, enough lies already!

    March 19, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  46. delusionaldan

    Lack of a "finishline'?

    You sat with a little girl that was shot in a firefight and as a Father, you still don't have a clear idea of what it takes to end war??

    March 19, 2008 at 10:39 am |
  47. Michael

    People who talk about the WMD need to also mention the guy that befriended Saddam while he was in US custody. Saddam wanted everyone to think he had WMD to keep Iran at bay. I'm not saying what we did was justified in the end, but if you want the world to believe you're a crazy guy with WMD, then when they come knocking on your door, you shouldn't be surprised either.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  48. Matthew Hays

    The money we have spent in Iraq could have been used the develop new fuels or existing new fuels. It could have been used to develop the infastructure for the new fuels. It could have been used to help car companies manufacture automobiles that used new fuels. This is about oil...we all know it.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:35 am |
  49. Tammy

    And while you saw fear there those of us at home with loved ones in Iraq or deploying shortly to Iraq sat in fear at home. My cousin left two weeks after this started. His son was a week old. I promised that if something happened I would be part of Ben's memory for his son. It's surreal making those decisions families have made for the last five years. It's still scary whenever I think he or my other friends might go back for another deployment. It's sad because my friend Mike died in 2005 from injuries sustained in an explosion in Iraq. I'll be part of his memory for his kids. And today is nothing but a painful reminder that while freedom is great and our soldiers are thankfully willing to pay the ultimate price, parts of our lives are gone for a good they undrstand but I still have a hard time swallowing some days. Mike was worth more. Ben is worth more. My other friends are worth more. I'm selfish. I admit it. I do know our soldiers need our support and prayer no matter what we feel about this war. I do think one day I might understand why Mike died a horrible death from burns and brain damage weeks after the attack. He was a sweet guy. None of it makes sense still. We do need to finish the job. We made a promise, and we need to keep it. We owe these people that much. My head says that. My heart says no other family deserves what Mike's has endured, what over 4000 families have endured. But no one deserves what the Iraqi people have been through, either. As you can see, it's five years, and I am still very conflicted. For a lot of us, today is going to suck. Parts of this anniversary always will on some level. I'm stopping because I'm about to cry again. Thanks for not forgetting five years ago. Thanks for covering Iraq again this year, for those of you who still go, for those who don't forget the losses either.

    March 19, 2008 at 10:01 am |
  50. Cindy

    Gary,
    It doesn't even seem like 5 years since we all watched everything unfold on TV when we invaded Iraq. It seemed that with all of our might and weapons that we would go in do what we had to do and get out. Boy were we all wrong! Now it's 5 years later and we are still fighting with what it seems no end in sight. I hope that what ever has to be done can get solved quickly and we can get our people out of there.

    Thanks for telling us your stories of your first days there. I love hearing from reporters who actually lived it.

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 19, 2008 at 9:51 am |

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