“The war in Iraq is not a glorious cause … it is a job”

Staff Sgt. Lucas C. Trammell has had four tours in Iraq. He said what was most important to him was that he had not lost a soldier in his squad. Joao Silva for The New York Times

“A lot of people at home are tired of this,” said Staff Sgt. Trevino D. Lewis, sitting outside a gym at Camp Liberty, the dusty rubble-strewn base near Baghdad’s airport and coming to a point many soldiers made. The people back home can tune out; they cannot.

“The way I look at it, it’s my job,” he said, recounting and dismissing the shifting rationales for the war, from the weapons of mass destruction that did not exist to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to the establishment of democracy in the Arab world. “It’s my career.”

The sense of duty among those who serve here, still strong, is nonetheless tempered by the fact that the war is winding down slowly — or, as one officer put it, petering out — with mixed results.

The invasion has left behind a democracy in an autocratic part of the world, but a troubled young one with uncertain control over its security and destiny.

“Do I think the kids running around here have a better future?” Sergeant Trammell said one evening in Camp Karbala, just outside the holy Shiite city of the same name.

“To be honest, I don’t really care,” he said. “As a nation, was it the right thing to do? In the end of the day, when I look back on it, I haven’t lost a soldier in my squad. That’s what’s important to me.”


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