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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Morale Suffers in Iraqi Heat

Aired August 12, 2003 - 19:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We go overseas now to Iraq.
We're sad to say another U.S. soldier died today. The 58th American killed in hostile action since President Bush declared the end of major conflict.

Other U.S. troops and countries staged yet another raid going after Iraqi officials. About 200 U.S. soldiers participated in the three-hour raid.

Jane Arraf joins us now from Tikrit.

Jane, a massive raid netted two close associates to the former Iraqi dictator. Still, obviously, no Saddam Hussein. Tell us: how significant are these latest captures in the hunt for Saddam?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, one of them might be pretty significant. He's described by military officials here in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, as the former chief of staff of the Republican Guard.

So he may have some light to shed, not on Saddam's whereabouts. It's unlikely that he would know those. But he would just be another piece of that puzzle that could eventually add up to a network of information, a network of people who could eventually lead the army and the rest of the military to Saddam.

COOPER: Jane, I understand some U.S. soldiers were surprised to find out that their tour of duty in Iraq was going to be about a year. I know U.S. soldiers operating, very tough environment right now. Temperatures often reaching, like, 120 degrees.

How tough is it for U.S. soldiers, for the people you talk to, to do their jobs?

ARRAF: It's kind of unbelievable to watch them out here in the heat. In fact a couple days ago it reached about 140. And you have to remember that they are in combat gear. A lot of them are in body armor, helmets. They can't go out without it. They're in the baking sun. It's extraordinary that they can do this.

They say they've become sort of almost acclimatized to the heat. But it is still very tough.

We have to say that morale, even though at the top levels the generals keep saying morale has not suffered, it can't but help but suffer. A lot of these guys believed that they would be here for six months. They're now here for a year. Their families want them home.

And they're certainly saying that they know they have a job to do; they're going do it. But a lot of them are saying that they just cannot wait to get home, and they are under very difficult conditions -- Anderson.

COOPER: No doubt about it. Jane Arraf, thanks very much from Tikrit tonight.

Now, if some U.S. forces were surprised that they'd be pulling a one-year tour of duty in Iraq the U.S. military says they shouldn't be. To put it in perspective, this tour of duty is about the same length of time U.S. forces served in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War troops served at least a year in country before being sent home. And during the Korean conflict the minimum tour for U.S. troops was nine months.

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