IRAQ WAR VETERAN DESCRIBES HIS COMBAT EXPERIENCE

06/01/06

Paul Rieckhoff joined Rob Lorei by phone to discuss his new memoir, CHASING GHOSTS: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington (Published by NAL Caliber). CHASING GHOSTS was published on May 1, the 3rd Anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech. He spent nearly a year in one of the most dangerous parts of Baghdad, as an infantry Lieutenant in charge of 38 men, and in that time encountered bureaucratic red tape to get supplies to his men and the Iraqi people. He experienced first-hand the shortcomings of a war that America was fighting on the cheap, and daily saw Iraqis who had once welcomed Americans start to lose faith in their ability to help at all. With that loss of faith, he saw the insurgency, and attacks on soldiers and citizens, rise.

Shortly after returning from Baghdad in 2004 (after his tour had been extended three times), his chance to speak about the Bush Administration's mishandling of the war came as he gave the Democratic Response on May 1, 2004, the First Anniversary of Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. Rieckhoff discussed the low number of troops, the problems with the leadership in Washington, the lack of water, the change in attitude of the Iraqi people, his response to reports of a recent massacre in Haditha, his reasons for enlisting and his willingness to serve again- even if he disagrees with the policy. Paul also warned that not enough is being done for troops returning with PTSD. He's the founder and director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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