U.S. Colonel Says Troop Morale 'Absolutely Tremendous'

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2006 - The morale of U.S. soldiers in Baghdad is "absolutely tremendous," a U.S. Army commander there said today.

"When I talk to my soldiers on the ground, they're absolutely committed to what we're doing here," Army Col. Michael Beech, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, told Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad.

He said this high morale is reflected in his unit's re-enlistment rate -- 116 percent of goal for first-term soldiers.

"They volunteered knowing they were coming to Iraq," he said. "A hundred and sixteen percent of the soldiers that we needed to re-enlist have now re-enlisted and elected to stay in the Army. That's a tremendous thing, given that we are now in Iraq, in Baghdad, in a pretty tough fight. So I think the morale of our forces is great."

The colonel also used his news briefing as an opportunity to share his unit's appreciation for their families in the United States.

"I'd like to thank all of our friends, family members back home, the family members of our soldiers," he said. "Of course, we couldn't do this without their love and support during this time period.

"And they're all our heroes," he added.

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