Suffolk soldiers head for the Gulf

PART-time soldiers from Suffolk are today on their way to join the ongoing bloody conflict in Iraq.The five Territorial Army recruits, all members of the 202 (Ipswich) Squadron, 158 (Royal Anglian) transport Regiment based in Yarmouth Road, Ipswich, are set to help in the allied forces's continued efforts to rebuild the country.

PART-time soldiers from Suffolk are today on their way to join the ongoing bloody conflict in Iraq.

The five Territorial Army recruits, all members of the 202 (Ipswich) Squadron, 158 (Royal Anglian) transport Regiment based in Yarmouth Road, Ipswich, are set to help in the allied forces's continued efforts to rebuild the country.

The reservists will join around 18 fellow TA soldiers from the Regiment for a six-month tour.

Their deployment begins today as they prepare to undertake medical checks and final training before taking up their positions in the Gulf.


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TA units from around the UK have been performing similar supporting roles in Iraq throughout the last year.

Captain Joe McGivern, who is based with the reservists at Yarmouth Road, applauded the enthusiasm of his selected soldiers.

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"All the soldiers are raring to go.

"They are professional, confident and capable, and have trained to the highest standards.

"They will find things tough at times, but they have a worthwhile and important job to do.

Today's deployment does not come without its concerns for the chosen reservists, given the continued reports of death and injuries among allied soldiers already in service in Iraq.

They will be entering a warzone which has claimed the lives of 163 American service personnel in Iraq since 1 May when President Bush declared that major combat was over.

Of the dead, at least 93 were killed in combat, typically in ambushes involving rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and sniper attacks.

The ongoing situation in Iraq is also taking its toll on the minds of allied troops in the region with a recent poll of over 1,900 US service personnel showing that over 70% reporting their morale is low.

The survey by the Stars and Stripes newspaper also said that 49% of those polled did not plan to re-enlist, while 31% said the war in Iraq was of little or no value for the US.

About a third of the respondents said that their mission was "not clearly" or "not at all" defined, according to the poll.

But Captain McGivern said: "I am certain they (today's TA soldiers) will do a thoroughly professional job and make the most of the tour."

Admitting that the deployment will prove a tough experience for the Ipswich troop, Captain McGivern said: "Of course it will be hard for many of them being away from home, but the Squadron back here will keep the families updated on news and them support when needed."

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