<i>The following is a commentary by Sgt. Todd Selge of A Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.</i>

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 27, 2007) - When you hear about the war in Iraq, you hear it from a high-level Army spokesperson or you hear tragedy and "another deadly day" from the media. The view on the ground, from the Soldier's perspective, is often overlooked.

We are the ones who live the conflict every day, who see the progress day to day. We are the ones who experience the sorrows, deal face to face with the people and see the enemy's effort to undo every good thing the Iraqi people and coalition forces have done. What all Soldiers want is to succeed in the mission and go home to our Families. The things we do each day allow us to do just that.

The Soldiers make the many successes of the coalition possible. My unit, A Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), is no exception.

The most important success is getting the Iraqi security forces organized and capable of handling every problem that may arise in the future. Accomplishing this happens on all levels, from the commanders down to the average private.

Our Soldiers develop friendships with the Iraqi troops and police. We joke, eat, talk about Family and conduct missions together. We provide a model for the ISF during the time we spend together.

We have a training program where Iraqi Army soldiers come and learn the same basic tasks every U.S. Army Soldier knows. Every day Soldiers work hand-in-hand to teach the IA to succeed in securing their country.

The ISF have been the main effort. Our joint successes include finding countless caches, killing or capturing anti-Iraqi force personnel and thwarting attacks targeting coalition forces. The ISF continue to gain the confidence of their fellow countrymen.

We are also building important and long-lasting relationships with the surrounding communities. We continuously visit schools and neighborhoods to give the kids backpacks full of supplies, hand out candy and listen to the concerns of the people.

We ask about their basic services, such as food, water, electricity and fuel. We hand out cards with hotline numbers to address any problems, and we share handshakes. We see the smiles of a hopeful generation firsthand and see the efforts of anti-Iraqi forces to shatter those dreams. Recent tactics by the insurgents are trying to break these bonds.

There has been a major effort by insurgents to sell and hand out a wide variety of realistic-looking toy guns. Their hope is for the ISF and coalition forces to engage children. But with constant training and help from the communities, we will yet again foil the enemy's plans to promote chaos and hatred.

Every day we interact and help Iraq grow, we are one day closer to success and one day closer to seeing our Families.

What does the average Soldier think on a daily basis' He wants to accomplish the mission. He wants to see the smiles of the Iraqi people endure. He is grateful for everything he has back home, and he wishes the very same freedom he is fighting for, upon the country of Iraq.

(Sgt. Todd Selge of A Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, forwarded this as a letter to the editor of the Fort Lewis "Northwest Guardian.")

Page last updated Fri April 27th, 2007 at 07:57