(What are the troops doing in Tikrit, Iraq?) Well different missions here from past years. Tikrit was a bastion of the insurgency and now I've been out and about with the commanding officer here and we have a lot of mobility. It's a slower mission, with less combat and more counterinsurgency and building the politics in Iraq. (Have you been able to get any idea how closely these troops are following the election?) People have said the U.S. military is a microcosm for U.S. society and I think there are a few people here who've expressed no interest. But most are watching it pretty closely, a fact which can be seen in the dining facilities. People here pay attention to the wars but also the financial crisis. (Are their opinions formed on the personal implications of what might happen to them in Iraq and Afghanistan or do they take a broader look?) That's a good question. In the last presidential election, I was embedded in Fallujah and people did seem to think they were voting based on if they thought they'd be staying in Iraq. People thought it'd be cowardly almost to vote for John Kerry. Now I think there's a growing perception that neither candidate is going to do anything that different from each other. I think people here would resent thinking they're voting to go home. All these people here now had a chance to get out since 9/11 and have willingly stayed here, so that's not as much an issue.

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