Guard unit may face greater dangers now
Identifying the enemy was much easier three years ago when U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq.
Today, as Iraq rushes into civil war, the enemy is not so clearly defined as about 150 members of Hartselle's Alabama Army National Guard unit get ready to take up the challenge.
The unit began retraining for military police duty in September at Fort Benning, Ga., after converting from an air defense unit.
Three years ago, the nation hoped for a relatively quick victory. The second best wish was for a stable Iraq in which democracy could take root.
But when the unit arrives, probably in June, it is apt to find the country in full-blown civil war and public opinion polls showing an even greater majority of Americans now against the war.
One Associated Press writer in Baghdad described the streets there as looking like hell.
"Corpses, coldly executed, are turning up by the minibus-load. Mortar shells are casually lobbed into rival neighborhoods. Car bombs are killing people wholesale, while assassins hunt them down one by one," Special Correspondent Charles J. Hanley wrote.
The 152nd's assignment will be the protection and security of U.S. and coalition forces. The soldiers will go and they will make the best of a deteriorating situation. But whether they go believing they can make a difference now or go because it is simply their duty, they go for their country.
That call to duty has solid public support even if the nation is increasingly concerned about the mess the Bush administration created.