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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Troubled Times for U.S. Troops Struggling to Bring Order to Iraq

August 30, 2003

Re " 'Democracy Is Not Easy,' Rice Says of Unstable Iraq," Aug. 26: National security advisor Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld continue to compare the U.S. occupation of Iraq with our post-World War II occupation of Germany. The analogy is seriously flawed. Germany had surrendered unconditionally to our terms. Such is not the case in Iraq. In addition, the Germans saw the Americans as a much more agreeable alternative to the revenge-driven, looting Russians. The Iraqis, meanwhile, continue dangerous assaults upon our forces.

I speak from firsthand experience, as I served in the U.S. Army occupation forces in Germany from 1946 to 1948.

Carlo P. DeAntonio

Encino

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Rice need not reach as far back as the slavery in America's past to remind us that the U.S. "should always be humble in singing freedom's praises." American hypocrisy concerning freedom continues today in, among other ways, its support for undemocratic regimes such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Tom Gorman

Glendale

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November 1966: Congressional leaders call for a troop buildup in Vietnam. In a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, President Lyndon Johnson declares, "We will not leave until the job is done."

Aug. 26, 2003: Congressional leaders call for a troop buildup in Iraq. In a speech before the American Legion, President Bush declares, "There will be no retreat." It's deja vu all over again.

James W. Bradley

Palm Desert

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Re "U.S. Military Strength Called Lacking in Iraq," Aug. 25: Seems to me that Rumsfeld should have listened to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki about the number of troops required in Iraq instead of forcing him into retirement. Now it will be a tough sell to the public to send more troops over. The U.N. will certainly be reluctant to offer any aid.

James Kamada

Manhattan Beach

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Re "A U.S. Silence in Iraq Puts a Deadly Cloud Over Journalism," Commentary, Aug. 27: Joel Campagna, senior program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, seems oblivious to the need for the journalists to use common sense in matters of safety. Their own guidelines apparently need updating: Do not point anything that can be mistaken for a weapon at soldiers involved in a guerrilla war. This would be a better resolution than expecting the troops to wait patiently to see if a snapshot or a rocket-propelled grenade was coming their way.

Fred B. Rothell

Torrance

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Re "A Deadly Day for Charlie Company," Aug. 26: In describing the tub-shaped assault vehicles called "tracks," in which some of the Marines were operating, the article explained that "their aluminum skin is vulnerable to artillery and rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs -- unlike the heavy armor on tanks. Thick steel plating can be attached to the tracks, but none was available to outfit Charlie Company's vehicles when they reached the war zone, the Marines said."

Some obvious questions: Why wasn't the steel plating available? How many Marines died as a result? Who is responsible for the obviously bad decision to send our Marines into that snake pit without the proper equipment?

Michael F. Locke

(USMC 1969-1971) South El Monte

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