Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Our moderator tonight is John Koopman, San Francisco Chronicle writer and former marine. In 2003 he accompanied a marine regiment into Iraq and reported on battles in Basra, Diwania, Koot and on the invasion of Baghdad. Please welcome John to the stage as he kicks off tonight's program. Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of INFORUM, a division of The Commonwealth Club by and for people in their twenties and thirties. Tonight we are pleased to host three soldiers who had fought in Iraq. Army Sergeant Camille Evans, National Guard Sergeant and resident of the Traumatic Brain Injury Center in Palo Alto, Brett Miller and Army Specialist Colby Buzzell. Brett Miller, Sergeant Brett Miller was an Oregon National Guard Sergeant, who was severely injured by a roadside bomb, commonly referred to as IEDs on August 11th of '05 while riding in a Humvee in Iraq. He is currently being treated for traumatic brain injury as I mentioned before at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto. Army Sergeant Camille Evans, in the middle, was trained as an intelligence analyst during her Individual Advanced Training. For her service in Iraq she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. At the far end is Colby Buzzell who is author, blogger and former soldier with the United States Army in Iraq. Colby began publishing a blog under the title CBFTW. As an anonymous soldier blogger Buzzell was able to share more lucid experiences than the embedded journalists who were there. He published his book called 'My War: Killing Time in Iraq', combining narrative, blog entries and e-mails. Please welcome our panel. I will start with Colby. Same question, I guess, we will start with with all three of you. The topic tonight is soldier stories. I think what we are interested at this point is some of your impressions of Iraq. What you did in Iraq and the kind of work that you did, your impressions of the place. So, I guess, I would question I would ask is explain a little bit about how you came to to be? In other words, you know, why you joined the army, to begin with? What took you to Iraq in terms of like the unit, you know, the work that you were doing and maybe you could run through the experience that you had there, you know, what was good about it, what was bad about it, your general impressions of the country and the conflict. Well, I lived in San Francisco prior to enlisting in the army. I lived in the Richmond District over in 20th in Fulton and I used to do temp work right here in the Market Street Financial District, you know, and just doing, you know, temp work and then I used to valet park in the North Beach District, you know, at the Italian restaurants and I would valet park on Friday, Saturday night and I didn't find that lifestyle fulfilling, so I decided to join the army. It was the year after September 11th and I, you know, I heard they were hiring. So I decided to join and from there I got sent to Fort Benning where I did my basic training. Then from there I got sent to Fort Lewis Washington and I was part of the strike brigade combat team and at the time they were non-deployable, but as soon as they I got there they they changed that and shortly after, I think, six months afterwards I got sent to Kuwait and then Iraq and we drove into Iraq and our first stop was the Sunni triangle and we spent a couple of months there and then from there we went to Mosul and that's pretty much where I spent a majority of my deployment was in Mosul and I don't know, I mean, it was just, it was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. But at the same, it's hard to describe like it was an experience, it was that, you know, I don't know. Well, what was your most vivid experience? Well what stands out in that entire time you were there, something that was either when you when you talk to your - First thing that came to mind was just the same streets over and over again. Everyday the same patrol, the same streets, the same scenery and the same people, you know, it was just living everyday the same over and over again. That was the first thing that came to mind. What where there any particular experiences that you had with the Iraqi citizens, with insurgents? Yeah, there was a lot but I don't even know where to start. There was a lot of experiences, I mean, there was the raids, there was the counter mortar missions where we'd go sit sit up somewhere for hours and hours and just wait. Yeah I don't even know where to start with that, sorry. Okay, we will get more details as we go along. Sergeant Evans is with a program that the military has called, it's called "Why We Serve" and it can be seen at whyweserve.com. I guess, I think, that's a it's a great question. And so can you tell, I mean, I think a lot of people don't really understand that very well, why do you serve? Well, actually I was born in Houston, Texas and then at the age of seven, me and my family moved over to Saudi Arabia. That's where I grew up and then from there we moved to Thailand and finally moved back to Houston again once I was in high school and growing up overseas and seeing the way that their culture worked over there, most of the time students only go to school up until 9th grade in Saudi and after 9th grade they go and get regular jobs and go to work and I always knew, well, hey I am lucky, I have this opportunity to, you know, grow up in a great country and so I always wanted to give back to my community in someway and right after 9/11 happened, I turned 17 right after that and went straight up to the recruiting office and joined. And then, from there I went to basic training in May of 2003 right after graduation, just a couple of days and then waited around a Fort Campbell for about a year and a half before we finally deployed. They kept telling us, okay its going to be March '06, you are going to deploy in March '06 and then October 1st comes around they are, you got 10 days, we are deploying in 10 days. So get ready and go. We went to Kuwait on October 14th and when we got to Kuwait, I thought okay, we got here a little early, so you are going to spend another month here before we head over to Iraq. About three days later all right we are heading out tomorrow, so all right, I went over to Iraq. I didn't have any SAPI plates or anything, we are very unwell prepared. I didn't get my SAPI plates until I got up to our base in Balad and we spent about a year there. And the only thing that really stuck out in my mind is we did our guard duty, every time we had our guard duty around the base one of our ROEs is we aren't allowed to, if you are getting fired at, we weren't allowed to fire back at them until we we had radioed in to the headquarters and asked permission to and that never seemed to bother us until the one day we are actually getting shot at and the tower next to mine calls in and says, okay we are getting shot at, we are getting shot at, can we fire back now. No you can't, we can't confirm who is out there, it could be friendly units and what not. About 30 seconds later a guy calls back on the radio. He is like, okay, well my buddy just got shot in the head. Can I fire back now? No, no, just him buddy aid and the guys was like, well did you not hear me? He is not shot in head, he is, you know, there is no buddy aid to be given. And we sat there for about five minutes taking fire before the fire ceased and it just kind of daunted us then that, you know, here I I was 20 years old and my buddy was 18. He had just gotten over there a couple of weeks earlier and you know, we were and there is these guys that are sitting back in an office somewhere telling us what we can and can't do. They have no idea what we were seeing upfront so, that was just my main experience that stuck out. Sergeant Miller was pretty severely wounded by a road side bomb and we were talking in the in the back when he mentioned that, in fact, he had been hit by seven, you said seven road side bombs in all? Probably about nine. Nine, even better. Can you describe a little bit what, what goes on? You know, that's really the I think, you know, 90 percent 80 percent, 90percent of all wounds I think are done by the road side bombs. Describe for the audience a little bit about how they are made, what they do in terms of the mechanics of that and if you would, you know, bring us up to the time that you got severely injured in what were the circumstances and what happened to you? Well, to answer your first question. I was born in Sacramento, raised in Lake Tahoe, pretty much lived in California until I got married and moved to Oregon. That's where I was married and I had been a career wildland firefighter 13 years. I was teaching at a college level, wildland fire science and meteorology and joined the National Guard to finish my Masters and complete my education levels so I could move up to more of a university level and went for close to six years and then got deployed. Well, we spent probably about eight months in training in the States and then Kuwait and my brigade was actually the brigade in Kuwait when Rumsfeld came and had a Town Hall meeting and one of our soldiers spoke up about no armor on the vehicles and that created a pretty big tail storm. We had some new vehicles but not all of them were new, we had the canvas doors. We had to drive from Kuwait all the way to northern Iraq where we were in between Kirkuk and Mosul. Our situation as far as ROE, like Sergeant Evans said, Rules Of Engagement was a little bit different. Our commander basically said if someone shoots at you, you shoot back, no questions asked and we will be, he said, we will be behind you a 100 percent. So we took that to heart the whole way up there. But perfectly honest when I was rolling up, I didn't have any armor on my vehicle and in order for us to put armor on the vehicles you had to take out the glass windows and put steel on, you know, this sort of thing in order to fabricate and I decided not to do that because it was December and it was very cold and I valued heat rather than armor. So I was warm driving up the whole way. Once we got to our area of operation we started to settle in and kind of know the whole routine of the same streets, same people, same places. We started to get a feel for the area, you know, if something wasn't right. But the people who went outside the wire, the soldiers that were on the road all the time, the longer and the more days you were on the road, the more of a chance you had of getting hit. And I would say that it was more of like a, who knows if it's going to happen type of attitude. You kind of the get this, kind of like a God complex, if you will, you know, I am invincible, lets move, just get out there and do it. And then when the first IED does off, whether it hits your vehicle or not in that convoy, in that element or you know group of Humvees, whatever mission you are doing, it's kind of a reality check that you have to look at. The IED that injured me, the one that was sufficient enough was it went off six feet off my door, buried on the road side, we are doing about 65 miles an hour in a Humvee. I was the truck commander sitting on the passenger side head of whole crew of five in the Humvee plus the gunner. The gunner was sitting down low and when that IED went off it was just a flash, a whole lot of gravel, dirt, asphalt, all kinds of debris and it shatters the mirrors, the glass, the ballistic glass on the Humvee was kind of all messed up and at that point I really, I remember a sharp pain in my ear and that was it. I didn't remember too much on to that and as a result, that was in August of 2005, I have been a in-patient since then in various hospitals between Balad, Iraq which is Theater Hospital, Landstuhl, Germany, Walter Reed, Madigan in Fort Louis and finally the Palo Alto, VA where I am at now currently, still an in-patient. Results of my injuries have blinded my right eye, hearing loss in my right ear. I have left side weakness on my body due to a right side head injury. A huge chunk of my memory is gone literally. My my speech when I first got here was unbelievably slow and sporadic effect. So a handful of of injuries too that I am still sorting out. Sergeant Evans, I was I was curious, how would you portray or how would you say the general attitude of troops. Maybe not, you might not be able to speak about exactly today but, but generally speaking what's the attitude of troops who are serving in Iraq today in terms of their mission and what they are doing there. I mean, what we hear a lot of stories about morale being low or people, you know, starting to, you know, question more on what's going on over there. In your experience how would you, how would you describe the what the morale or the motivation level of the people who are now serving? Well, while we were there most of our unit, we were just kind of it was our mission. That's all we are really concerned about, so like we were up to into the big war picture really. I guess, for an entire mission that we had to do every single day and our morale stayed out mainly because, like letters we got from loved ones and people writing us telling that they supported us while we were there, because that's really all we cared about was, making sure that people back home still supported us. So as long as we had those letters and most of the time our morale was high. Do you think though that, I mean, was there, was there a discussion much, was did people talk about you know, you know why they were there or whether they agreed with what was going on. I don't mean to answer that in the sort of the political question in terms of agreeing with the President but was there an overall sense of yes, you know, this is this is what we need to be doing or was it just, as you mentioned just specifically like I am a soldier, this is my job and I will do my job? Yeah, actually it was like half and half. Half of the people you talk to they are really, you know, this is why I am here, I am ready to do it but most of the time people I came across, it was kind of, you know, this is this is my job. I had signed up to do this and that's why I am here. Colby what, what's been your experience, part of your training from Iraq. Do you do you think that the American public has a different feeling today about about returning veterans. What's your overall sense of like the how people view Iraqi war veterans? Well, I think, personally I think there is this stereotype. I think, from what I have experienced, automatically people think that you come back and you are all, you know, people have this image in the head of from the Vietnam movies, you know, born on the 4th of July and like the guy that comes back and that's an alcoholic or can't function in society. That's that's all, you know, and he is totally screwed up and I think some people kind of view our veterans like coming back from here like they should have problems, you know, like you know I have come back and I felt fine but so many times, you know, I got people asking me, you know, all these questions and it was kind of like, I think, they they think I should be messed up and they are shocked when I tell them I I feel fine. But then again I went to the VA Hospital, you know, and my parents and friends tell me, you know, I get down to the VA Hospital get checked out and I went down to the VA Hospital and that was kind of a nightmare. Not a nightmare, it just just all the waiting and all the, it was just a hassle but I finally saw saw a doctor there and took the test and like, you know, they asked you the four questions and if you answered yes the three out of four, you are screened positive for PTSDA. I answered yes to all four and, you know, they are they are supposed to call you back and they never did. Well they did a month later but by then I lost all interest in going down there and dealing with all that but, you know, there is lot of people trying to get help at the VA and my impression of it is it's very understaffed and a little disorganized. At least the VA in Los Angeles from my experience there but, yeah the transition back home has been different. You know, you come back and it's not like other wars where you get preyed or you get spit on. Here it's you are invisible, you know, and I think that's what messes with the veteran heads a lot more than the war as you come back and you are released in a society into a world that really doesn't really care about what you or your others, friend in your platoon did over there. You know, you are just out in the open and as life goes on and I think overtime that wears on you and I think that's the most difficult part of transition back. Brett, it's been a lot in the news lately about conditions of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I know that actually you were in a story in the chronicle recently about your your experiences with army medicine and what you dealt with with veterans administration, can you can you address that at all? What's been your personal experience in terms of how you been you have been treated dealt with in terms of a as a wounded veteran wounded soldier not only I mean obviously the surgery and treatments you you received but just I think the bigger issue is as we all understand is really more the outpatient care and whether people you know focus on treating you all, what's your experience with that? Well, when I was at Walter Reed I was in a bed the whole time so pretty much all I saw was ceiling tiles and it wasn't really a lot for me to really comprehend them I was still kind of shady if you will. But I can see how the Walter Reed events that have transpired in the last month how that can upset a lot of not only veterans but family members just for the fact that you know if soldiers are being sent overseas and they pay a price if not the ultimate price but if they end up wounded and come back and then get treated, you know, less than you know, homeless shelter. I would see how that would draw really infuriate a lot of people. And as far as the army's medical system there is a lot of people that go through that medical system a lot of soldiers. I had the opportunity to meet Bob Woodward and I met him before and after his injury and most people know Bob Woodward because of how high profiled person he is. And everyone has seen Bob Woodward's recovery from injury to post recovery where he is at now see him on news but you got to keep in mind that over the last couple of years every time you had seen a story about Bob Woodward there has been 25,000 40,000 other veterans that have been in the same exact shoes lot of people going through the system and eventually there is going to be people who fall through the cracks. Where am I at now the Palo Alto VA is specifically the poly-trauma unit - I don't think if I had unlimited resources and funding I don't think I could find a better place to be. Soon as I came in the door I was expecting you know just another random medical facility but it was a barrage of neuropsychological exams and physicals and physical therapy and you know it was overwhelming I was exhausted and then the PTSD Clinic has you know, picked up its overwhelming, it really is the amount of care that they have taken on down there and just a touch on what Colby said earlier. A good friend of mine told me once that he said the greatest soldiers make the worst civilians and it's it kind of rings true you know. You have a lot of guys that go out there and give their 150 160 percent or their country and then when they come back if they don't have you know the care or the provisions that they expected you know the country that they fought for its going to be pretty difficult for not only them to fit back in but their families. Sergeant Evans other item in the news army lieutenant Watada is being court-martialed at this point for missing movement for basically refusing to go to Iraq. I'm curious what you generally the troops, is there a and again I don't want you to speak on behalf of, you know, all soldiers everywhere, but in your experience is there a is there support for the lieutenant, I mean do people support what he did or oppose what he did? There has been a suggestion that the war unpopular as it is would be over for a lot more soldiers to decide it that, you know, they don't agree with the politics or situations or the reasons we went to war to begin with and therefore if they refuse to fight the war would be over today. What are your impressions about that? Well, my standpoint is when we signed up and joined the military we all signed a note saying that we would follow the orders of the officers and those point above us and when we were given that order, that's our duty to follow it. My personal opinion and some of the people I worked with when we were in Iraq when we heard about what the lieutenant did and that is just kind of, you know, you knew what you are doing when you signed up for this, you knew there is the possibility of you going to war, if you didn't want to go you shouldn't have joined in the first place. Ditto. Colby, what do you think about that? I disagree. I am not really too familiar with the situation but you know I understand a little bit of where it is coming from and if he doesn't want to go - yeah, well, I do understand. You know, he signed the paper and all that stuff but there is a part of me that does kind of understand his way of thinking. I just hope it's not for political reasons and that's his I don't know. If I was in Iraq I would and there was somebody there that didn't want to be there that puts me in a dangerous situation I would rather be there with a bunch of guys that wanted to be there and if he didn't want to be there then you know let him face the consequences for that. But haven't a guy that really doesn't want to be there puts other soldiers in danger and I don't know that's kind of way to look at it. Brett in the time that you were in Iraq before your injury what did you see anything that was good and did you did you see whether there are situations that you looked at and you said, this is you know, something useful is coming out of all of this I don't know what it might be school, security or something I mean we hear about there is a lot of I mean, there is this constant the dialogue I think in the press of like you know you know good news, bad news kinds of things, you know, we hear about the car bombings because they are did you ever did you see things experience things where you said, you know, that's good? You know that's a great question. I had the opportunity when I was over there to be in history during their first election. We were in support of that and we would delegate places with the locals in Iraq to find an area for the elections to where we can hold the actual voting in the ballot counts and we incorporated in the Iraqi police and the Iraqi National Guard its kind of a multi-national force and when we would go and surround, it was two parts. We would usually find schools and security schools set up road barriers around the schools to prevent vehicle borne IEDs that sort of thing set up barriers. And when you can see the public coming out seeing what you are doing protecting a place that their children are at everyday, you can see the gratitude if they don't come up to you and give you objects whatever it is or hugs which happen quite a bit. Just little things that happen on a daily basis like soccer is big in Iraq and we used to get requested big box of soccer balls from home and we would go out to the soccer fields and you know give these kids soccer balls and next thing you know the kids would be given us the intel on you know, hey, this guy down there or this guy here, you know there is a common threat over there. It basically takes a hand a trust to earn it back. So I saw quite a bit everyday and that definitely our way the rocks being thrown at your vehicle and you know you can definitely tell where anti-American cities are or anti-American areas. Sergeant Evans you you work on intelligence for an aviation unit I assume that that gives you - privy to a lot of lot of information about about the insurgency, about and certainly with in the area of your operations. I think its tough for most of us when we we get our information from news sources which are aimed at it's a limited view often times and we don't know what you know without, you know, giving away the confidential top-secret kind of information, is it better or worse than we think it is? Is it better or worse than we see portrayed in the media? Actually for most of our intel we did use CNN to get a lot of our intel and . So did I. The reason why that was because they did have the most up-to-date information, they they - you know, most of the time its the portrayed the same I think its the same things going on they say they just kind of had a more biased view on the whole situation, they showed mainly the stuff that we were doing wrong and when you know, that's what we wanted to know though so you wanted to know where all the enemy was and stuff like that but what they are not showing was what we were actually doing, part of our unit went up to Mosul and built a whole university and they never showed any news coverage on stuff like that, when we built the hospital in Balad its only the most state of the art hospitals there, they didn't show any coverage on that and that's where I think the news media gets wrong. They do have to the stuff that's going wrong they have that right, but the stuff that we are doing right over there, they have no coverage on that. Colby, I I would imagine that in the time that you have been back from Iraq you try and keep in touch with a lot of the people you served with or certainly like like a lot of people obviously, you know, watch watch the news what's going on - you were there in in 2003 and 2004, what's your impression of how the situation there has changed since you were there? Well, I don't really know, since I am not there but my old unit is there and I am not going to you know mention his name but you know I mean - well you know, I still keep in touch with a lot of guys, they tell me it's a lot different than when I was there. It's its well they are in the different part of Iraq. I believe my old unit is in Baghdad right now and they are riding ____ QRF I think, I am not sure on that but they tell me its from the people I have spoken to, its way dangerous now than it was back then and they don't see getting any better and you know its weird because like you know I talked to my friends on the phone they called me up and its like they straight up tell me they don't think they are going to make it back this time, you know its their second deployment over there and you know they call me they don't go in the specifics but they just get really scared and you know you know I have got a bad feeling about this you know I don't know, you know its different here and they won't tell me exactly what you know because operational security but from what I little contact that I have with the soldiers over there it does seems like its getting worse over there. Brett, do you think the American government does the does the defense department do enough for its soldiers? I mean you talked before about not having any armor on your on your Humvees long after I think that was pretty much long after IED started popping up and Sergeant Evans you mentioned that you know you had to go into to Iraq without your for those of you who don't know SAPI plates where the the heavier armor that you put on your on your body armor to protect from rifle bullets and that sort of thing. Is enough being done is enough ever been done? I mean I know that obviously there are budgetary constraints and nobody ever seems they have enough money for that but in a in a time of war one would imagine that the government would would do more and pay more and spent more and make sure that everybody not only is protected but even after the fact is is treated as well as can be I guess I want to ask you this of all three of you individually do we do enough and if not what should be done? I think with anything if you dive into something head first there is going to be a lot of changes that you have to make and you have to be kind of fluid. When the conflict first started there was a lot of things that changed that was out of our control meaning army. You know insurgents the enemy changes their tactic on a daily basis and in order to keep up with that change is pretty big monetarily and physically. As far as the armor there was a that was something that was brought into the limelight by a simple Joe. You know someone's kid and as a result, you know, the vehicle started to get beefed up and I think through that mentality it started there is a lot more people that are willing to stand up and say, I think we need to improve this or I think we need to improve that. By the end of my tour in Iraq, we had very fortified Humvees. We had anti-IED equipment on our vehicles. We had a you know, weapon systems that were integrated. You know we had a lot more things that kept the soldier himself out of harms way. As far as that goes when boots hit the ground that thing that scene is very adapted. However, once that soldier comes back through my eyes I have seen that the the amount of energy that's focus towards troops and family members of fallen soldiers is - could definitely be improved a lot on the army side. Not just and I don't mean just healthcare but the amount of provisions that the government could put for those troops that you know really have nothing to look forward to once they come back, you know. I am blessed to have all my limbs, but I know several soldiers that are very good friends of mine that don't have limbs and its almost as if it is just a simple check that's written off. Here is a some money for your troubles. We are going to be heading into the question and answer portion of tonight's program in just a few minutes. So please start lining up at the microphones if you have questions for the panel I'm sorry Camille. What you are saying about do we think we are really quick once we got up to Balad and got where we - we have a more had more than enough stuff we had all the equipment we needed I think the problem with us was this we were kind of like a last minute push to go over there we were told, you know, couple of weeks in advance we were heading over there instead of some, you know, lot of more of the units were getting up to like six months out before they were ready, but by the time we got over there, we had everything we needed. I think it depends on like a individual unit to unit basis whether or not, they had all their equipment we didn't have any Humvees as we were all helicopters, so I am not sure about the whole armor on the Humvees thing but with our SAPI plates there was about a third of our unit that didn't have the SAPI plates and we were pretty much threatened out when we got up there with the unit that we were taking over for. I think the only other you know most of the the money issues for equipment we buy, you know of course we need more money we need more equipment over there and they can always use more stuff to make it better. So that's always going to be the answer I think its yes we could use the more equipment. Colby? I was really lucky I was with the Stryker Brigade and we had everything that we needed brand new everything, I mean I don't think that went over there with the single item that was used everything was brand new, even pretty much of vehicles. So I have really have no complains when it comes to equipment what our government and military can do for veterans coming back. A lot more and I think you know, I mean I don't think a lot of veterans or people that have prior service are really too surprised about the recent Walter Reed scandal. One last question for we take - take questions from the audience and again I will direct this to each each individual but I guess we will start with Colby this time. Ultimately we were told that this is about the Iraqi people and helping them you know, helping them escape tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Helping them reestablish a country, a democracy. Your time in Iraq did you did you form opinions about the Iraqi people themselves. You get a sense of who they are, what they are, whether this mission is valid from that stand point? No there is a language barrier and you know, being in the infantry, go out and you are doing missions and there is no interaction with them really. I mean, there is a little bit but it's really hard to understand what the overall consensus of what the Iraqi people think of us being there. I mean, that wasn't our job really to think too much about that even though we were there to also win hearts and minds but our job was more locate, capture and to kill all anti-Iraqi forces and to stabilize the country and to hand it over to the Iraqi people and that was our job, that was our mission. That's what we concentrated on. We didn't really, you know, we didn't really put the or I didn't really put too much thought of what the, you know, of course, there is people that are thankful of you being there but then also you know, why they are shooting at you, you know, kind of thing. And you know, the interpreters or you know, they tell you that you know, God Bless America thank you for being here. But they are, you know, also working for you. You know, so it's really hard to understand or to figure out you know, what's going on there, I don't know. I have probably spending years and years thinking about that but I don't know. Camille? Well part of our job being in intelligence whenever we would have it always brought the villagers from right around our base on to the you know, - you know, on to have a say there and not always our whole job is talking to them and see how they felt and trying to get you know, up to date information on intelligence right around there. What I got from most of the people that I talk to is a lot of them are very grateful that we are there. That was all they kept saying, saying thank you, thank you so much for you know, coming to help us and other people, they really wanted to help if they knew about some type of insurgent in the local village there. They really want to tell you most of the time they are just scared, they were getting paid off. Being in intelligence too, you understand that most of the insurgents are called insurgents for a reason because they are coming in from other countries not necessarily Iraq. They are coming in from Syria and Iran and everywhere else. So most of the terrorists there in Iraq aren't really even Iraqis so, I mean, the Iraqi people that we got to talk were very grateful though that we were there and that, you know, helped our morale too as well talking to them. Brett? Most of the contact I have had with Iraqis has been handful of public and a lot of Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi police or the Iraqi army. And the biggest thing I can remember out of all of it is the bulk of the multi-national forces over the Iraqi police and Iraqi army whenever we would be doing a mission or training or that sort of thing. I was around them quite a bit as they were just amazed at how much America was willing to help them out. I mean, you are talking about a country that's been around and only known one way for several thousand years and to have someone finally come in and give them hope and aspiration you know, it definitely outweighs the random 10 percent insurgency that's out there. So you kind of woke up in the morning though and that you were making a difference. But its only one day at a time and that's the hardest thing for most people to grasp us. It takes time. For the radio audience you are listening to the Commonwealth Club's INFORUM program. And tonight we are talking with soldiers home from the Front lines. I am John Koopman of the San Francisco Chronicle and I am here with National Guard Sergeant Brett Miller, Army Sergeant Camille Evans and Army Specialist Colby Buzzell.