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Soldiers Learn Cultural Do's, Don'ts While Preparing For Deployment To Iraq

Posted August 22, 2003

— Thursday, troops from the 82nd Airborne were getting ready for the next round of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

About 5,000 soldiers will leave Fort Bragg for Iraq during the next few weeks. The soldiers know that simple manners could be the difference between a safe deployment or a deadly one.

Preparation for peacekeeping starts at the tip of a needle. Thursday, troops with the 82nd Airborne offered up their arms for 15 different shots, including vaccinations for Anthrax and Smallpox.

Soldiers also were learning about cultural do's and don'ts. Something as simple as shaking with your left hand or showing the bottom of your foot can be considered a major insult in Iraq. It was a lecture about cultural characteristics in the Arab world, everything from how Iraqis value time, power, informaiton and family -- differences troops need to know in order to accomplish the common goal of peace.

"It is important because we don't want to offend the culture we're trying to rebuild," said Spc. Joseph Cush. "And, so, if we can be a little more aware, then it helps out."

Private Jeremy Michael is a medic. Just 20 years old and 20 months in the Army, he hopes to make a positive impression on the Iraqi people.

"If I'm polite to them, then there is not going to be as much anger against the soldiers," Michael said.

And that , Army officials say, could very well save lives.

Right now, there are about 4,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne in Iraq. When this next group goes overseas, Army offficials say two-thirds of the 82nd will be in Iraq.

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